If it’s your first time with a baby, bath time can feel a little difficult. A big question that a lot of parents think about is how often should you bathe a baby? You don’t want to overdo it and damage your little one’s skin. But you also don’t want to not do it enough and then risk your little one getting dirty and unhygienic. If you have a new-born baby, you may think of doing it less frequently to protect their delicate skin and if they’re older, to do it more often as they’ll be walking or running around more. There’s no need to keep overthinking these things. Read our article to find the right answers and to make life much easier when it comes to bath time.
Bathing changes as your little one gets older and there will be different processes to follow as they grow. To make things easier to understand, we’ll be going through your baby’s life stages – adding in what you need to change as they development more. If your baby is already 6-12 months – scroll down and read the section to get a better understanding of what you need to do for your child.
So, you’ve had your baby, left the hospital, and now what? It’s time to work out a routine. A bathing routine is just the same as a feeding and sleeping routine. As soon as you get into one, it will make things much easier for you and your baby. When you have your baby in the hospital, the nurses will give your baby their first bath. This is to clean them up after being born and to ensure they are healthy to go home. You can stand by and watch whilst the nurses bathe your baby. They will be happy to answer any questions you have to make bathing at home much easier.
Whilst your baby is so young, you should only bathe them one to twice a week at first. This ensures that their skin is looked after and doesn’t become damaged by over washing. It’s also important to remember that your baby will still have their umbilical stump when they are born. You should follow to 1-2 time a week bathing routine until this comes off on its own. Whilst they still have this, you should also not submerge them into the water. Instead, support them with your hand and gently bathe them with the other.
Use a soft sponge when bathing your newborn. Don’t apply too much pressure and definitely don’t scrub their skin. Gently wipe over their skin including their head to ensure you remove any dirt that has built up since their last bath. Be very careful of their face as you clean their head, it’s important not to get water into their eyes and this can cause discomfort. For now, just use water to bathe your little one, soap can dry their delicate skin out and cause irritation.
Make sure you only use lukewarm water for your baby. If it’s too cold, it will be a very distressing experience for your child and if it’s too hot, it can potentially burn them or severely dry their skin out. If you are in between your two baths a week and notice that your baby has dribbled milk or had an accident, you may want to bath them again. Focus that bath time for the specific area that needs to be cleaned. Don’t clean your entire baby for no reason.
If your little one has just reached 2 months old, their bathing routine will start to change very slightly. It’s still recommended at this age to only stick to 1 – 2 baths per week. Your baby won’t require any more than this as they will still be reliant on you and won’t be running or walking around on their own. As we mentioned previously, the only reason you should bathe your baby more than this per week is if they have an accident where they need to be cleaned up.
At this stage, your baby’s umbilical stump should be gone. This means they are now able to have a normal bath instead of you having to support them to ensure they do not go under the water. You can still use a baby bath if you want or need to, but there’s no problem with moving to a normal bath either at this point. If you choose to start using a normal bath, it’s just important to ensure your baby doesn’t slip. It may be worth buying a non-slip mat so that they are more secure.
Start with your baby’s head and move down their body as you bathe them. This is still very similar to the bathing routine that you did when your baby was a newborn. However, this time, you can use baby soap if you are comfortable with it. If your baby has problems with their skin or it is overly sensitive, you may want to give this a miss for a little longer until they are more developed. If you choose to use it, only use a small amount and make sure it is all fully washed off before you dry your baby.
A lot of parents bring their baby to the bath with them to save water as well as time. If you choose to do this, you just need to ensure that the water is lukewarm and safe for your baby. What might feel normal to you can feel extremely hot for your little one and could severely damage their skin. If you need a second. Run some of the water on your wrist to gauge the temperature of it. Also don’t use any strong soaps or bubble bath as this isn’t safe for your baby.
Another thing to note when having a bath with your baby is that there should be somebody else there to take your baby out once you are done. If you choose to stand up with your baby in the bath to get out, you could risk falling over and injuring yourself as well as your baby. If you’re a single parent or your partner is away, we advise that you don’t have a bath with your baby. Instead, give them their own bath and have your own bath/shower afterwards.
During this time in your baby’s life, they will begin to become more active and maybe crawling or walking. Not only does this mean they will get up to much more mischief, but it also means they will be able to explore much more! What does this mean? Their more likely to get dirty – and much quicker than before! Not only is it their mobility that affects their bath routine, but it’s also the new food they will start to enjoy. At this age, your baby will begin to try new foods which can get them extra messy! That calls for another bath!
At this point, it really comes down to how often you think your baby needs to be bathed. Whilst we do not recommend this every day, it’s important to clean your baby up if you feel they have gotten themselves into a messy situation! We would recommend 3 times a week as a normal routine and then extra ones if you feel that they need it. This can be if they’ve ventured into the garden and got themselves a bit messy or if they’ve just had an experimental mealtime!
You can get special baby bathing tubs suited for baby’s who are able to sit up. They ensure that your little one cannot fall back into the tub and have grips on them to make sure they stay in the same place at all times. When filling your baby tub up, you should only fill it up a few inches deep as that’s all you need – this is from a safety point of view so that your baby is safe in the bath. It’s also great for using baby toys in the bath. The shallower it is, the easier it will be for your baby to amuse themselves during bath time.
Some parents choose to combine their baby’s bath routine with their bedtime routine. A warm bath can usually make a child feel sleepy and calm. Therefore, it’s a great time to put them down to sleep. Check that all soap suds have been washed off of your little one and that they are completely dry before they go to bed. If they are still damp, it can make their sleep uncomfortable and may cause skin dryness and irritation.
Your baby won’t get dirty in the same way as an adult does, and therefore doesn’t need to wash as often. Adults are more likely to be running around and also sweating if it’s warm – which means you may want to take a shower more often. However, your baby in its earlier stages will only be in one position and won’t need baths very often. Once they get older and start moving around on their own, then you can start increasing the bathing routine.
Bathing your baby too much can also cause very uncomfortable skin irritation as it’s so delicate and still developing. Eczema has been known to have been caused by over washing and drying the skin out. This is something that can happen to your little one very early on if you choose to bathe them more than it’s needed. If you find that your baby’s skin is still drying out even after bathing them the correct amount of times a week, you can use a baby moisturiser that will help soften their skin again.
We hope that our advice has made bathing your baby much easier. Stick to the recommended amount of times per week and you will have no problem with your little one. If you find that bathing is causing irritation, go and see your doctor for their advice. They will be able to offer more tips to help your baby’s bath time become much easier.