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How to bathe a newborn

There are so many milestones that parents look forward to reaching when they have their own baby. One of those can be your baby’s first bath. Bathing your baby is an excellent bonding session and is a great experience for your little one to develop their senses. Our blog will tell you how to bathe a newborn and how often you should be doing it.

how to bathe a newborn

How often should I be bathing my newborn?

Many parents think that newborn babies need bathing every single day. However, this isn’t the case. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it every day. If you find that your baby enjoys it, you can make it into a fun task for your little one. If you’re bathing primarily just to clean your baby, this only needs to be done 2-3 times a week. On the days that you don’t bath your little one, it’s a good idea just to give them a daily clean over their face, neck, hands and bottom. This ensures that there is no build-up of bacteria anywhere. 

You also don’t have to start bathing your baby as soon as they come home from the hospital. It’s really up to you when you would like to give them their first proper bath. If you just want to do a daily clean for the first week, that’s absolutely fine.

how to bathe a newborn

How do I clean my baby for the first time without a bath?

It might be that you don’t have a bath in your home, or you would rather just give your baby a daily clean rather than a proper bath at the moment. These daily cleans includes cleaning the face, neck, hands and bottom of your baby. Many parents prefer doing this kind of clean whilst their baby is so young as it can be a little bit scary putting your newborn baby straight into a bath.

One important thing to note is that you shouldn’t clean your baby with a sponge whilst they are so young. Your baby’s skin will be very delicate, and you need to try and be as careful as possible not to damage it. Instead of a sponge, you should use cotton wool which will be more delicate and soothing on your baby’s skin. If you’re going to wash your baby without a bath and just give them a daily clean, you’ll need the below items:

  • Some warm water. This can just be in a normal sized bowl
  • A towel for afterwards
  • Cotton wool to clean your baby with
  • A fresh nappy – do not put the old one back on, even if it’s clean
  • Some clean clothes

So that’s what you need, but how do you actually clean your baby? Just follow the steps below…

  1. Lay your baby on a changing mat with a vest and nappy on. Make sure they are on a secure place where they cannot roll off and potentially injure themselves.
  2. Dip the cotton wool in the warm water and start on your baby’s face. Gently wipe around their eyes and them head down to the nose and move outwards. You should use a different piece of cotton wool for each eye to keep both clean. 
  3. Move over to your baby’s ears. Do not push the cotton wool inside your baby’s ear, just clean around the area. You should not use cotton buds on your baby as they can cause irritation and potentially ear infections. 
  4. Gently wipe over the rest of your baby’s body with cotton wool – changing it regularly.
  5. For their bottom, remove their nappy and get a fresh piece of cotton wool. For girls, make sure you wipe from front to back to prevent any harmful bacteria spreading elsewhere. For boys, wipe around the genitalia.
  6. Pat your baby’s skin dry. Do not rub their skin and this can cause irritation. Once they are fully dry, put their nappy back on and dress them in some fresh clothes.
how to bathe a newborn

How to bathe a baby in a proper bath?

It’s important that you don’t just stick to general cleans, it’s important that your baby has a proper bath at least 2 times a week. You may feel quite nervous about bathing your baby for the first time, but once you get the hang of it, it will feel completely natural. 

Bath time can be a great time for you and your partner or family member to both bond with the baby. Teamwork is vital during bath time and can be a lovely family activity. Before you start bath time, you need to ensure that the room you are in is not too hot or too cold. When you take your baby out, it is important that they’re not shocked by the cold as they will struggle to regulate their own temperature. So, what will you need?

  • A bath. This can either be your bath at home or some people prefer to buy a separate baby bath so that it makes it easier to handle your little one whilst washing them.
  • Cotton wool.
  • A clean nappy for afterwards.
  • Some clean clothes.

It’s best not to use any soaps for the first month of your baby’s life. This is because it’s a good idea to give your baby’s skin some time to develop on its own. Any chemicals could potentially cause some irritation. For the time being, just use plain, warm water. Once your baby is over a month old, their skin would have developed a barrier in which it can protect itself. This is when you can start introducing small amounts of baby-safe soap to baths.

Make sure that any products you use on your baby’s skin are free from alcohol, perfumes and artificial colourings. Baby soap is your best option as they are suited for your little one’s skin.

how to bathe a newborn

Step by step – how to bathe a newborn baby and protect their skin.

  1. Fill the bath to around 8-10 centimetres deep. You don’t need the water any higher than this as you can use what’s in there to bathe your little one. Test the water with your wrist to ensure that it’s not too hot for your baby. If it is, add some cold water until it is around 37 degrees. It’s important that the temperature matches body temperature as it means your baby won’t have to try and regulate their body temperature at all.
  2. Use cotton wool to wipe over your baby’s face and eyes. They don’t have to be in the bath for this, you can just place them on your lap to make it a little easier.
  3. Once you want to wash your baby’s head or hair, hold them over the bath and wash their head with plain water from your hand – avoiding their eyes. 
  4. Dry their head by patting it dry and then take off their nappy. Do this part out of the bath just in case there is anything to clean up. Make sure any poo is wiped away before your baby goes into the bath.
  5. When they are ready to go in, slowly lower your baby into the water. They make cry or kick out a little bit at this stage but soothing them with your voice will keep them calm.
  6. Hold your baby with one hand and wash them with the other. You can use a soft sponge if you’d like to, but your hand will work just fine. 
  7. Remove your baby from the bath carefully and wrap them in a warm towel. Once they are dry, you can put a new nappy on and re-dress them in some fresh clothes.
how to bathe a newborn

Is there a best time to bath my newborn baby?

It really comes down to you when you’re ready to bath your baby. Some parents prefer to bath them before bed as the warm water soothes them and makes the sleepy. However, others prefer to do it in the morning to wash away any dirt from the night before.

You should bathe your newborn when they are fully awake. This will prevent them becoming distressed or irritated. Another time that you should avoid is when you have just fed your little one. You should wait for their stomach to settle before you put them into the bath. 

No matter what you do, it’s best to just try and enjoy the time you have with your baby during bath times. Use this as a time to really bond with your little one and make the most of these precious moments.

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