Bathing your Newborn Baby

Bathing your Newborn Baby

Bathing your newborn baby for the first time can leave you drowning in anxiety. It’s possibly one of the first times that you will imagine everything that can go wrong as a parent. You would be forgiven for being overwhelmed at the prospect of a wriggling crying infant and your hands covered in slippery soap. You don’t have to have done this before to know that these are not a good match and your confidence may well be at an all time low.

The good news is that lots of new parents feel this way and everyone gets through it. Here are a few tips to help you perfect (or thereabouts) the art of bathing your baby: 

Bathing your newborn: How often? 

Your newborn does not need a bath as often as you might think. In the first three days don’t wash your baby, rather just clean their face, neck and bottom by ‘top and tailing’ them with warm, wet cotton wool.

In the next few weeks, you may find that they cry a lot during bath time. Save yourself the stress and don’t try to bath every day. Bath your newborn every third day and ‘top and tail’ them for the days in between. After a few weeks, you can start daily baths, if you find that your baby enjoys it or that bath time settles them. 

Bathing your newborn: When to bath? 

Most babies are somewhat overstimulated by the end of the day. The interaction and sensory input of a bath after 5pm can all be a bit too much for your little one and the result is extensive crying in the evening. If you find this to be the case, move bath time to the morning.

Bathing your newborn: What to use?  

  • For a newborn baby, you need a small bath – either a plastic tub or bucket or even a hand basin will do
  • You may feel more secure if you have a seating positioner for you baby, especially if you are using a ‘big bath’
  • Have a warm, soft towel on hand so that you don’t need to leave your baby for even one second in the water unattended 
  • It is preferable to use fragrance and preservative free aqueous cream in place of soap on your newborn’s sensitive skin

How to bath your newborn 

Prepare to wash your baby at their changing mat by washing their face first with water on cotton wool pads. Then take off their clothes and ‘soap them down’ with aqueous cream. Place your baby on a support in the bath to rinse them off or keep your non-dominant forearm under their back. Hold their distant arm firmly while you rinse off the cream gently. Ensure that the water is a comfortable temperature and spend some time talking to your little one. In time, bath time can become one of your favourite times of day with your little one – hang in there until then! 

Parent Sense is the all-in-one baby app that takes the guesswork out of parenting. Download the app now for expert parenting advice, tips and tools where and when you need it. 

Meg faure

Meg Faure

Hi, I’m Meg Faure. I am an Occupational Therapist and the founder of Parent Sense. My ‘why’ is to support parents like you and help you to make the most of your parenting journey. Over the last 25 years, I’ve worked with thousands of babies, and I’ve come to understand that what works for fussy babies works just as well for all babies, worldwide.