Baby’s First Bath

It is completely normal to feel a little nervous with this milestone.
Our parenting expert, Claire Thompson, is ready to put your mind at ease and to make bathing baby an enjoyable experience for everyone involved!

Everything you need to know to give baby their first bath is right here- tips and tricks to help you prepare the room, area, bath and baby for their (and your) first baby bath experience!

Newborn Care

When a baby is born, their umbilical cord is still attached. It takes one to two weeks for this to dry up and fall off. Until it does, it is recommended that we clean babies using a ’Top and Tail’ method. This is to stop the umbilical area from getting damp and avoid becoming infected.

After the area has healed, it is the perfect time for baby to have their right of passage into their first bathing experience!

Timing is key

Okay, baby is ready- but is there a right time for a bath?
The perfect time to give a bath is when baby is happily full, but making sure not to feed just beforehand. It is a good idea to leave time for milk to settle, over 30 minutes, otherwise baby may bring up the milk if they become distraught.

Pick a time when baby is alert and content- normally with smaller babies, it may be more optimal in the morning time.

As your baby gets older and enjoys the bathing process, you can begin to adapt baths into their evening/bedtime routine.

Preparation for post-bath, pre-bath!

Before you even run the bath, have everything you need ready to go for directly after baby has been washed:

• Hooded towel open and laid out.
• Clean onesie and fresh nappy opened next to towel.
• Vest on top of the onesie, to be put on first.

Keep these things close by in the bathroom. A good tip is to bring a padded changing mat with you so there is no traveling room to room with temperature drops.

Keep the room at a consistent, comfortably warm temperature, making sure to close any windows so there is no draughts causing baby to become cold too quickly.

It’s Bath Time!

Before baby is undressed, have the bath water ready, baby’s sponge/wash cloth next to the bath and remove any jewellery, particularly rings, as baby will be wriggly.

Temperature of water

Fill the water in the bath, making sure to reach the right temperature. Add cold and hot water together initially, but make sure the last tap running is cold water.

Mix the water using your hand to make sure there are no hot spots in the water. Using a specific bath thermometer is a great idea for parents- it takes the uncertainty out of the task. Temperature should be around 36-38˚C. We test this by placing our elbow in the water. Hands/wrists are not as heat-sensitive to distinguish the right temperature.

Never have baby in the bath when water is still running.

The water should be enough to cover baby’s tummy. If you think that baby is upset due to cold chest/arms, a tip is to dip an extra washcloth in the water and place on baby’s chest for the duration of the bath,

Baby’s turn!

When baby is undressed, it is a completely normal reaction to cry! Babies hate to be cold so get baby to that water as fast as you can.

If bathing alone, use one arm to support under baby’s shoulder and use that hand to hold up baby’s head.
Use your hand to clean baby with sponge/washcloth.

If you have help, you can use both of your hands to hold baby up as your partner can clean baby down.

Work in the same way as a Top and Tail- working down from baby’s head, under neck, arms, torso and legs, leaving the bottom area until the end. This is the dirtiest area to clean and it stops contamination of the washcloth over the rest of baby’s body.

For girls, make sure to clean from front to back, and with boys it is not necessary to clean under foreskin, cleaning bottom last.

Never EVER leave baby unattended in a bath. It only takes seconds for a baby to drown, especially as a small baby’s head does not yet have the strength to hold itself upright. If you need to get a cloth/ towel in a different room, take baby with you.

All Done!

Take baby out before water becomes cold. Baby will be quite slippery, use both our your hands under baby’s armpits and scoop up to your chest. Get that hooded towel over baby’s head and wrap up as fast as you can.

Keeping the towel wrapped around baby’s body, begin to work drying off from ‘Top to Tail’ again. Pay particular attention to under folds of skin, such as the neck, armpits, and closed fists. When you have dried up to tummy area, put the vest and onesie on the top half to keep baby warm and happier.
Dry off the bottom half, patting the folds in baby’s thighs. Pop the nappy on, close up the vest, legs into the onesie, then lift baby up to reassure and cuddle if still upset.