Bathing your baby

Your baby’s first baths can be quite an alarming experience. She’s so small, slippery and wriggly that it’s natural to be scared you’ll do something wrong. You’ll probably find you’re being so careful that it takes you ages. That’s no problem – there’s no hurry – but make sure you don’t let the bath water go cold.

Keeping your baby clean

It will probably help at first if you and your partner learn to bath your baby together – that way you can both take a turn. Lots of parents find bathing their baby is one of the nicest things about caring for them – babies usually like water and it’s a chance to get to know each other too.

Be prepared

In the early days you don’t have to bath your baby every day. A good alternative is a quick ‘top and tail’. The main thing is to make sure that the room is made free of draughts, that you have everything you need to hand – towels, fresh nappy, clean clothes – and that your baby is fully awake and ready to enjoy the experience! You must also make sure the water is not too hot.

Nooks and crannies

Some babies have lots of folds of skin – particularly round the neck, thighs and wrists. Make sure you (very gently!) clean inside these folds as they often harbour trapped milk which can not only become quite smelly, but may also cause irritation or a rash. It's important to be very gentle when cleaning your baby's genital area. Never try to pull back a baby boy’s foreskin.

The stump of the umbilical cord can often become a little smelly before it finally falls off. Just let the bath water wash gently around it to remove any discharge. In about 10 days the stump will fall off, leaving a perfect little tummy button.

Fingers and toes

Baby’s finger nails and toe nails can often be quite scratchy and it’s important to keep them neat and trim – especially as some babies will scratch the delicate skin on their faces. It’s easier to cut nails when they’re soft after a bath – and when your baby is relaxed and sleepy. Use a pair of special baby nail scissors with rounded edges (never anything sharp) and don’t cut too far down.

Last Updated: 02 October 2017
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