Bathing Newborn Babies

Rubber duck

Bathing your baby is about more than getting him clean. It’s a chance to play with him and spend time with him – and it’s fun for both of you. It’s also a great opportunity for dad to get hands on and involved in the daily routine. Your newborn may take some time to get used to the idea of bath time and become distressed when all of his clothes are removed. This phase usually passes quite quickly.

Here are some tips for bathing your baby:

  • For the first few weeks you don’t need soap or anything ‘cleansing’ like baby bath liquid or shampoo, water is fine. When you want to start using a cleanser, try and select a wash with a gentle formulation that is safe for newborn skin.
  • You need only bath your newborn 2-3 times a week.
  • Avoid tub bathing of your newborn until the cord stump has fallen away and healed, until then it is only necessary to give a sponge bath.
  • Lay a wet flannel or cloth across your baby’s chest to keep him warm.
  • If you take your baby into the bath with you then you’ll need someone to pass the baby to you, and take him from you when he’s finished.
  • Talk, sing and play games with your baby, so he learns to enjoy it as a special time with you.
  • Always check the water temperature. Use your wrist, as this is more sensitive to heat than your hand, or use a bath thermometer. It’s a good idea to fill the bath with cold water first, and then add hot. That way you don’t heat up the bottom of the bath and risk burns, and you also avoid the slight chance that you’ll put your baby in a bath that’s scalding hot (because of forgetting to add cold water). Finally run cold water through the tap to ensure that the tap head is cold.
  • Finally run cold water through the tap to ensure that the tap head is cold.
  • Hold your baby steady. If your baby is in a conventional bath (not a sit-in tub) support him across his shoulders, so his head is against your forearm. If he’s in a tub, hold him under his arms with one arm. That way, you get a spare arm for bathing your baby’s body all over.
  • If your baby is not enjoying himself and is showing signs of distress, just do the basics and get him out. You can try again in a couple of days, perhaps try bathing at a different time of day.
  • Avoid giving a bath immediately following a feed.
  • Massaging your newborn is a lovely way to get to know her body and expressions.

A separate tub for bathing your newborn isn’t essential, though they can be a good idea, giving you more freedom of movement – and they’re portable, to allow you to bath your baby in a warmer room. You can buy baths in a tub-like design, which means your baby can be upright, or you could use a new washing-up bowl for a tiny baby.

Cleaning the Cord Stump:

Your baby’s umbilical cord stump dries and drops off within a week to ten days of his birth. You may receive advice from the hospital to clean this area daily or there is another opinion that excessive cleaning of the area is not necessary and simply keeping the area clean and dry is adequate. If you notice any redness, discharge or other signs of infection, ask your doctor for advice.

For more information see Baby Care