Make sure they are full and happy at bath time. It's a good idea to leave it a little while after feeding to avoid the risk of sickness. It's also best if they are in a good mood and well rested. This improves the chances of it being a positive experience.
Take a look at our film with some useful tips on bathing babies.
What do I need?
• A baby bath. If you don't have a dedicated baby bath, you can use the bathroom sink until you get one. Clean it before you bathe your baby.
• To wash baby, all you need are your hands. You can also use cotton flannels or soft terry towels.
• A large towel, preferably made from terry towelling.
• A fine-tooth comb so you can remove any cradle cap from your baby's head.
• Baby oil is the only thing you need to put in the water to get your baby fresh and clean.
When the umbilical stump is still attached
It's usually fine to bathe your baby from the first week you're back at home, even if the umbilical stump hasn't yet dropped off. You can clean it using just water and baby oil, and it usually falls off within a week or so.
The temperature of the bath water
If your baby has done a poo, wash his bottom before starting the bath.
The temperature of the bathwater should be around 37 °C (i.e. body temperature). Check with your elbow: if you can't feel any difference when you dip it in the water, it's the right temperature.
In the baby bath
Feel free to add a few drops of unscented baby oil to the water to make your baby's skin soft and clean.
We suggest that you position your baby so that their bottom rests on a towel or piece of rubber at the bottom of the bath, so that they don't slide around.
Wash from the head down
A few suggestions for when you're giving your baby a bath:
• Place everything you need within reach before you start.
• Hold one arm under your baby's head with your hand around their upper arm to ensure that your grip is firm and solid. Make sure you keep their face above the surface of the water at all times.
• Start by washing the eyes. Dry from the outside in towards the corner of the eye, in the direction of the tear ducts.
• Wash your baby's face and ears (including behind the ears), making sure you get every nook and cranny where milk and dirt can collect.
• Rub their scalp with a soft hand, and massage with a little water. Check out our tips on the easiest way to wash your baby's hair.
• Lift your baby's chin and wash under the chin and neck.
• Lift up the arms and wash the armpits.
• Wash your baby's back and tummy with your hand or a flannel.
• Wash their bottom last. Make sure you get into the creases between the thighs and in the groin.
• Lift your baby out of the bath and dry them carefully – particularly in the creases under the throat, armpits, groin and in the navel. Dry by patting with a soft towel. Do not rub.
Read more about your baby's skin and how to prevent nappy rash or nappy eczema.
• If you wish, you can do some exercises with your baby's legs and arms, or give them a massage after their bath. If you do this, keep your baby warm by covering all exposed areas with a towel.
Watch our short film on baby massage.
How to give your baby a bath
Some babies love having a bath, while others don't enjoy it at all. If your baby seems not to like the water at all, wait a few days before trying again.