Bathing Your Baby

Some baby’s love having a bath and some baby’s hate it. You will quickly find out what your baby thinks!  If your baby does not like being bathed, you don’t have to do it every day, twice or three times a week will be enough. Some babies are soothed by a bath so you might like to give one in the evening before bed. You will work out for yourself which suits your baby best.  

Bathing Your Baby

Where to bath your baby.

This depends on where you and your baby might be most comfortable. If your bathroom is usually warm and draught free you can give the bath there. 

Otherwise some people prefer to bring a small baby bath into the sitting room, or whichever is the warmest room in the house. In the early few weeks it is easier to bath the baby in a small baby bath rather than in your own big bath. 

You may wish to put the baby bath into the big bath. Try a few different ways to see which suits you best. You can buy foam/plastic bath supports if you wish, these help support the baby in the water if you are nervous holding him/her.  

Getting Ready for the Bath 
  • Pick a time when you baby is relaxed, not when he/she is very tired or very hungry and not just after a feed.
  • Gather everything you need before you start the bath.
  • Make sure the room is warm with no draughts.
  • If it is your first time to give a bath at home, you might like to have someone there to help. Never leave your baby alone while in the bath.
  • Put the cold water in the bath first, then add enough warm water to reach a comfortable temperature of about 36°C
  • Put in just enough water to cover the baby’s tummy if he/she were lying back.
  • You might like to add a small amount of babywash or babybath.

Giving the Bath

Undress the baby and wrap in a warm towel
  • First clean around each eye with small pieces of  cotton wool and cooled boiled water, clean the rest of the face with a soft cloth. Then dry carefully
  • You might want to wash the baby's hair before putting him/her into the bath. Just hold his/her head over the bath and bring some water up with your hand onto the baby’s head. You can use some mild baby shampoo or baby wash, rinse carefully and gently dry.
  • Be careful as you dry the soft part of the head, (the fontanelle) do not rub too hard or press on it.
  • Ease your baby gently in to bath supporting the head. Keep holding on to the baby all the time he/she is in the bath
  • Wash the baby gently with a baby sponge or soft flannel
  • Try not to splash water on the baby’s  face or into his/her ears
  • Remember to clean under the neck creases and other skin folds.
  • A few minutes is long enough for the bath
  • Lift the baby from the bath and dry carefully.
  • If you do not want to bath baby everyday just wash the baby's face, under the neck area and hands, then the nappy area. This is called 'topping and tailing' 
  • Remember to hold on to your baby all the time he/she is in the bath
  • Based on information from 'Caring for Your Baby' Birth to Six Months (CHISP, HSE).