You don't need to bathe your baby every day. You may prefer to wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully instead. This is often called "topping and tailing".
When your baby is born it is advised you don't bathe them straight away - you should wait until their cord has fallen off.
At that, you don't need to bathe your baby every day. You may prefer to wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully instead. This is often called "topping and tailing".
The best time to start is when your baby is awake and content. Make sure the room is warm and get everything ready beforehand. You'll need a bowl of warm water, a towel, cotton wool, a fresh nappy and, if necessary, clean clothes.
Topping and tailing tips:
You may find the following step-by-step guide to washing your baby useful:
- Hold your baby on your knee or lay them on a changing mat. Take off all their clothes, apart from their vest and nappy, and wrap them in a towel.
- Dip the cotton wool in the water (make sure it doesn't get too wet) and wipe gently around your baby's eyes from the nose outward, using a fresh piece of cotton wool for each eye. This is so that you don't transfer any infection from one eye to another.
- Use a fresh piece of cotton wool to clean around your baby's ears, but not inside them. Never use cotton buds to clean inside your baby's ears. Wash the rest of your baby's face, neck and hands in the same way and dry them gently with the towel.
- Take off the nappy and wash your baby's bottom and genital area with fresh cotton wool and warm water. Dry very carefully, including between the skin folds, and put on a clean nappy.
- It will help your baby to feel at ease if you keep talking or singing to them while you wash them. The more they hear your voice, the more they'll get used to listening to you and start to understand what you're saying.
How to keep a baby safe in a bathtub:
- Never leave your baby unsupervised, even for a second or two. If the doorbell or phone rings and you feel you must answer it, scoop him up in a towel and take him with you.
- Never put your baby into a tub when the water is still running. (The water can quickly get too deep or hot.)
- Never leave your child unattended, EVER. A point so important we included it twice! A child can drown in less than an inch of water – and in less than 60 seconds.
Step by step: How to bathe your baby:
- Gather all your bath bits (mild soap, a sponge, and a plastic cup), and lay out a towel, a new nappy, and clothes. Make sure the room is comfortably warm, so your baby doesn't get cold.
- Fill the bath with about 3 inches of water that feels warm, but not hot, to the inside of your wrist (32 degrees) or a few degrees warmer.
- Bring your baby to the bath area and undress them completely. (TIP: If your baby cries through every bath, leave their nappy on at first. It can give her an increased sense of security in the water.)
- Gradually slip your baby into the bath feet first, using one hand to support their neck and head. Pour cupful’s of bath water over them regularly during the bath so they don't get too cold.
- Use mild soap and use it sparingly (too much dries out your baby's skin). Wash them with your hand or a washcloth from top to bottom, front and back. Start by washing their scalp with a wet, soapy cloth. Rinse the soap from the cloth and use it to gently clean their eyes and face. If dried mucus has collected in the corners of your baby's nostrils or eyes, dab it several times to soften it before you wipe it out.
- Rinse your baby thoroughly with cupfuls of water. Then very carefully lift them out of the tub with one hand supporting their neck and head and the other hand supporting their bottom. Wrap your fingers around one thigh - babies are very slippery when wet. If it's possible, have another adult help by receiving your baby in a dry towel.
- Wrap your baby in a hooded towel and pat them dry. If the skin is still peeling from birth, you can apply a mild baby lotion after their bath, but this is usually dead skin that needs to come off anyway, not dry skin. Then enjoy all of those freshly cleaned cuddles with your little one.