There’s nothing quite as adorable as seeing your little baby giggling and splashing around in the bubbles. 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.
Bathing your newborn baby for the first time can feel a little daunting but with our simple tips, you can help your baby enjoy their splashtime.
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 her 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 her 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 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.
Keep it mild
As your newborn adjusts to life outside of the womb, her skin starts to form a protective barrier called the acid mantle. For the 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.
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.
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 <too> tired or hungry though, so if a bedtime bath just doesn’t work try it earlier – breakfast bath, anyone?
Bathtime is a lovely chance to bond with your child and those after-bath snuggles are simply the best. Be sure to get a soft and cosy baby towel that they'll feel nice and sung in for these special moments.
Bonding with baby
Lots of babies love baths right from the start, but if your baby gets upset, talk to her as you wash her, and bring your face close to her, this way your familiar voice and smell will help her relax and feel more comfortable during this new experience.
Focus on your baby at all times
It’s easy to be distracted if your phone beeps, the doorbell goes or you realise you’ve forgotten the towel, but don’t leave your baby alone in the water for a second, she needs your full attention to be safe (the same goes for a toddler or child). If you do need to leave the bathroom, get your partner to come and watch your baby, or take your baby with you.
Always patch test
Before using any new product on your baby, do a patch test first. Put a fingertip of product behind her ear or on the inside of her elbow, and wait 24 hours. If there’s no reaction, the product is safe to use, but if there’s any sign of redness or irritation, she may be sensitive to it.