Baby care - Health care - newborn bathing Baby care - Health care - newborn bathing

Bathing your newborn

Bathing your baby is about more than getting them clean. It’s a chance to play and spend time with them – and it’s fun for both of you, too! It’s also a great opportunity for dad to get some hands-on experience and become involved in the daily routine.

Your newborn may take some time to get used to the idea of bath time and become distressed when all his/her clothes are removed. This phase usually passes quite quickly. 

Here are some tips for bathing your baby:

  • For the first few weeks you don’t need soap or anything ‘cleansing’, like baby bath liquid or shampoo. Water is just fine.

  • You need only bath your newborn 2-3 times a week.

  • Avoid bathing of your newborn in the tub until the cord stump has fallen away and healed. Until then, it is only necessary to give a sponge bath.

  • Lay a warm wet flannel or facecloth across your baby’s chest to keep him warm.

  • If you take your baby into the bath with you, you’ll need someone to pass the baby to you, and take them from you when you’re finished.

  • Talk, sing and play games with your baby. Let them learn to enjoy bath time as a special time with you.

  • Always check the water temperature. Use your wrist, as this is more sensitive to heat than your hand/ alternatively, you can use a bath thermometer. It’s a good idea to fill the bath with cold water first, and then add hot. That way, you don’t heat up the bottom of the bath and risk burns. Once you’ve added the hot water, run cold water through the tap to ensure that the tap head is cold.

  • Hold your baby steady. If your baby is in a conventional bath (not a sit-in tub) support them across their shoulders, so their head is against your forearm. If they’re in a tub, hold them under their arms with one arm. That way, you get a spare arm for bathing your baby’s body all over.

  • If your baby is not enjoying it and is showing clear signs of distress, just do the basics and finish up quickly. You can try again in a couple of days, perhaps try bathing at a different time of day.

  • Avoid giving a bath immediately following a feed.

  • Massaging a newborn is a lovely way to get to know their body and expressions. 

A separate tub for bathing your newborn isn’t essential, though they can be a good idea as it gives you more freedom of movement. They’re also portable, allowing you to bath your baby in a warmer room. Alternatively, you can buy baths in a tub-like design, which means your baby can be upright. 

Cleaning the Cord Stump:

Your baby’s umbilical cord stump dries and drops off within a week to ten days of birth. You may receive advice from the hospital to clean this area daily. You might also hear that excessive cleaning of the area is not necessary. Simply keeping the area clean and dry is adequate, but if you notice any redness, discharge or other signs of infection, ask your doctor for advice.