Baby’s first bath – how to bathe a newborn

babys first bath

by Lorna White |

Your baby's first bath is a very special moment indeed, and there’s nothing quite as adorable as seeing your little baby giggling and splashing around in the bubbles. While you may be excited for your baby's first bath, knowing how to bathe a newborn can feel a little daunting for new parents.

While there’s no need to give your baby a bath in their first few days, you can if you like and going forward, you only really need to bathe your baby a few times a week.

To help you feel confident when bathing your newborn for the first time, we've put together some simple tips to help you and your baby enjoy their splash time.

Start with a sponge bath

Until your baby’s umbilical cord stump falls off (usually between 10 days and three weeks after birth), you’ll need to keep this area clean and dry. Rather than giving baby a proper bath, lie your newborn on a soft, flat surface covered by a clean towel, and using a basin of warm water and a soft sponge, flannel or even cotton-wool balls, wash your baby a limb at a time, concentrating on their face, neck, hands and bottom while keeping the rest of them wrapped up warm. According to the NHS, this is also known as topping and tailing and is great for when it comes to keeping them clean between baths.

What temperature should the water be?

You want your baby’s first bath water temperature to be comfortably warm, but definitely not hot. Run cold water first then add in the hot water, mixing well to ensure there aren’t any hot spots. The temperature you’re aiming for should be 37-38 degrees which is around body temperature.

If you’re not using a bath thermometer, the old wives’ trick of sticking your elbow in to test it should work – you use your elbow as your hand has thicker skin, so can cope with higher temperatures. If the water feels gently warm on your elbow, it should be ok for your baby.

Use mild products

As your newborn adjusts to life outside of the womb, her skin starts to form a protective barrier called the acid mantle. For baby's first few baths, some mums choose to stick to just warm plain water to avoid irritating her delicate skin. When you decide it’s time for more than that, look for products with natural ingredients that are extra gentle on your baby’s skin.

Try sensory learning in the bath

There’s plenty of sensory learning your baby can do at bathtime. To begin with, trickle water gently onto her tummy and demonstrate cause-and-effect by creating small splashes in the water near her.

Forget the bath toys for now

She won’t be interested in bath toys until she’s a bit older, but for now, she might enjoy playing with her washcloths and seeing you trickle water with them.

Prepare for bed

Consider building your little one’s bath time into her bedtime routine. Not only does this work brilliantly to her as a cue that it is time to get sleepy, it also works by changing her core body temperature, which tells her that it’s time to nod off. This won’t work if she’s tired or hungry though, so if a bedtime bath just doesn’t work try it earlier – breakfast bath, anyone?

Child's Farm Baby Wash

Childs Farm Baby Wash

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Perfect for baby's sensitive skin and dermatologist approved is the Child's Farm range of products. This baby wash is the ideal soap for newborn skin. You'll find more bath and body buys for your baby here.

Liewood Sylvester Washcloths

Liewood Sylvester Washcloths

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Your child will love watching the adorable animal washcloths, made from super-soft organic cotton terry, as you wash and play with her.

Liewood Albert Hooded Baby Towel

Liewood Albert Hooded Baby Towel

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Made from 100 per cent organic cotton, this adorable baby towel has a pocket where your baby’s feet can fit then just tie a knot with the two side slips, so she can keep warm and cosy. You can find our pick of the best mum tested baby towels here.

Angelcare Soft Bath Support

Angelcare Soft Bath Support

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To give your baby some extra support and comfort, it's a good idea to get a baby bath or seat for them to lay on. We love this one from Angelcare that you can pop in your bath tub, but there are many more baths, tubs and seats to choose from here.

Make bath time fun for your toddler

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The perfect baby bath time routine

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