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Baby playing in bath

bathing a newborn: simple steps.

3 minutes


In the early days of parenting, most of us are continually struck by how teeny our newborn babies are. On the one hand, it’s lovely – marveling at how tiny their fingernails are and being astounded that a pair of socks could be so small. On the other, it’s a little nerve-wracking handling something so delicate, particularly when it comes to bath-time!

When and how to wash a baby

Looking after a wriggly, wet baby might be a daunting experience, but as long as you never leave your baby unattended and the water is warm rather than hot, you should have the recipe for a safe bath-time. Also make sure it is safe and easy to transfer your baby from the bath to towel.

“With our first daughter, we really struggled with bath-time, but when we had our second, we paid a bit more attention to when we chose to bathe her, and found as long as she was content and awake and hadn’t just been fed, she was pretty happy,’ says Fiona, mum to Olivia, four and Annabelle, one.

Gently lowering them into a few inches of water, with their head and shoulders supported should be fine, but not all babies are instant water babies. If they really don’t enjoy bath-time in those early days, ‘top and tail’ them instead. Simply take some warm water and cotton wool or WaterWipes, and clean their important bits - around their eyes, ears, neck and bottom.

Where to wash a baby

“Once, when we were bathing Tristaõ, he arched his head to look back at something, and we noticed deep in the folds of his neck there was a bright red patch that was all grimy and sore looking,” says Dad, Filipe. “Bath-time was my job as it was a nice way to spend time with him after work, but I’d been so gentle with my cleaning that I’d not got right into his crevices! Once I was on it though, it cleared up quickly.

”Baby’s necks can get surprisingly mucky because milk dribbles and gathers there. And as we all know, one of the cutest things about babies is that they often have multiple chins, so you do have to have a good old check!

Their hands and in-between their fingers can get quite dirty, and of course around their bottom and genitals. According to the NHS, water alone is best for their skin in the first month.

Find what works for you

“We bought this baby seat that you use in the bath to prop newborns up,” says Heather, mum to Millie, two. “I know friends of mine use the same thing all the time, but I found it awkward to use, so either me or my husband used to just get in the bath with Millie instead! It was easier, I’m sure Millie felt more comfortable and it was nice to have that quiet, skin-on-skin bonding time, too.

’In their own bath seat, in with you, in the kitchen sink - genuinely it doesn’t matter how you bath them as long as you both feel comfortable.

Bath-time giggles

As well as being crucial for cleanliness, bath-time can be incredibly bonding for both parent and baby. As babies need your undivided attention during this time, it’s a great opportunity to really drink them all in, not to mention being a nice way to wind down after a busy day and (for baby) before bedtime.

And as they grow, playing with their rubber ducky and splashing around in bubbles becomes even more fun, and bath-time may well grow to be their (and your) favourite time of day.


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