factsheet: bathing

You will need :

  • Baby bath or washing up bowl
  • Stand or non-slip mat to stand the bath on.
  • Bath thermometer
  • Two Towels
  • Cotton wool bowls
  • Small jug or cup
  • Cooled boiled water
  • Baby bath/shampoo
  • Talc
  • Clean nappy

what to do

1) Make sure you have everything you need close by so that you can bathe your baby with as little fuss as possible. If you forget something, you won’t be able to go and get it. You must never leave your baby unattended in the bath because small babies can drown in just an inch of water.

2) Fill the bath with a few inches of comfortably warm water. Always put the cold water in first and then top it up with hot until it’s warm enough. Give the water a good swirl around to avoid the risk of any hot spots.

3) Check the temperature of the water just before you put your baby in. Obviously you don’t want to scald your baby but you don’t want the water to be too cold either. The water should be about 29(C (85(F) on your bath thermometer. If you haven’t got a thermometer you can test the water by dipping your elbow in – if it feels warm and comfortable on the tip of your elbow it should be OK for your baby. Don’t use your hands or fingers – they are used to withstanding higher temperatures and what feels comfortable for them will be too hot for your baby.

4) Undress your baby, leaving just the nappy on, and wrap baby in a towel.

5) Wash baby’s face and eyes using the cotton wool and cleaned boiled water. Don’t use any soap. Wipe from the middle of the baby’s face outwards

6) Hold your baby so their head is over the edge of the bath and gently wash/shampoo the scalp. Make sure that the baby’s back and head are supported by placing your arm under the body and your hand behind the neck. Use the jug to rinse and soap/shampoo away. Try to keep the water out of baby’s face as much as possible – it can upset them.

7) Unwrap your baby from the towel and at the last possible moment take of the nappy!

8) Gently put your baby in the water. Support your baby’s shoulders and neck with one arm and use the other to support their bottom. Hold your baby securely under the armpit. Babies sometimes wriggle and can get quite slippery when covered in soap or bubbles.

9) Wash your baby paying particular attention to the area around the bottom and also the folds of skin around the neck where traces of baby sick can hide. You don’t really need a sponge or flannel for a newborn baby – your hands will be enough to clean them.

10) Let your baby play by kicking and splashing and talk to them as much as you can to reassure them. Have a towel ready to wipe away any water that splashes in their face or eyes!

11) When bath time is over lift out your baby and wrap him in a warm towel.

12) ‘Pat’ dry. Make sure that all the creases and folds of skin are well dried. You can apply talc or baby lotion (not both) now if your want to. Then put on the nappy in the normal way.