Bathing a Newborn

Your Guide on How to Bathe Your Newborn

When Should I Bath My Newborn for the First Time?

It is recommended that you sponge bath your baby until the umbilical cord has fallen off and the navel has healed completely. A newborn does not need a full bath right away, top and tailing is often sufficient (see below for more information). Another good reason to delay your baby’s first bath is that many babies are born with vernix, a creamy, white substance providing many benefits, on their skin. This is a brilliant natural moisturiser and protects your new baby’s skin. Vernix should be left on your baby, to be absorbed naturally and having a bath too early could wash it off.

What is Top and Tailing?

Giving a sponge bath, also called top and tailing, is a good way to keep your baby clean between baths. You will need a bowl of warm (not hot) water and cotton wool.  Wrap your baby in a towel to keep her warm and wash each part of her in turn. Start by gently wiping your baby’s face and neck with damp cotton wool, using a fresh piece for the areas around each eye and around your baby’s ears.  Gently dry her face and neck. Next wash her hands and underarms in the same way. If your baby’s cord is still attached, you can gently wipe away any discharge if it is dirty or sticky, drying it carefully. Finally, gently clean your baby’s genital area using clean cotton wool. Remember to wipe girls from front to back. Dry your baby gently and then re-dress her with a clean nappy and clothes.

How Do I Bath My Newborn?

There is some really useful information, including a video, available from this NHS web page. It’s a good idea to prepare everything you’ll need in advance and it set each item out. This includes your baby bath with warm water, a clean towel or two (hooded towels are great), cotton wool or a soft flannel, a clean nappy and clothes. Start by washing your baby’s face in the same way as you would with top and tailing. If you are washing your baby’s hair, use a mild baby shampoo and wash and dry her hair before putting her into the bath. This will keep your baby from getting too cold. Your baby’s bath should only be two to three inches deep, using warm, not hot, water. When putting your baby into the bath, ensure you hold her securely, supporting her body and head at all times. Keep your baby warm by pouring or sponging water over her body.  Gently wash your baby remembering to never, ever leave your baby alone in the bath, even for a second.  Pat and cuddle your baby in the towel to dry her, ensuring your dry any creases of skin before dressing her.

How Often Should I Bath my Newborn?

It is not advisable to bath a newborn every day as giving her a bath too often can dry out her delicate skin. Therefore, it is generally recommended that you bath your new baby two or three times per week.

More Resources

Your baby’s skin is very delicate and there is no need to use lotions or creams on it. It is advised that you avoid using baby products for the first few months in order to protect the developing skin from exposure to allergens. You can read more about this and other skincare tips from this useful page over at WebMD.

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