A Guide To Bathing a Newborn

Discover all you need to know about bathing a newborn, from how often they should be bathed and the types of products you should use to some essential safety tips.

Bubs Australia

Your newborn’s first bath is a special milestone and the perfect time to introduce a gentle, soothing bath routine that helps keep your little one clean and content.

When is the best time to bath your bub?

When deciding when you should bath a newborn, there’s no one perfect time – you can choose to bathe them at any time of the day and whenever best suits you. Whenever you decide to bathe your little one, ensure you’re feeling relaxed, have plenty of time on your hands, and, if you need support, have your partner or another trusted adult with you.

How often should you bath your bub?

Since newborns aren’t overly active, it isn’t necessary to bath them every day. For most babies, two to three baths a week are enough to keep them clean. If your little one enjoys bath time and it helps settle them before bed, you may choose to bath them more often. Bathing your bub too often, however, can dry out their sensitive skin, so keep an eye out for any dryness or irritation.

When to start bathing your baby daily

When you choose to start bathing your baby daily comes down to personal preference. Some parents choose to bath their little ones more often once they start eating solids (babies can be messy eaters!), get more active and begin to take part in other messy activities.

What do you need to bath your bub?

While you will quickly work out what does and doesn’t work for you and your little one, some basics to have on hand when bathing a newborn include:

  • A baby bathtub or the kitchen sink
  • A towel
  • A washcloth
  • A mild baby cleanser
  • A baby bath thermometer
  • A clean nappy
  • Clean clothing
  • Creams or ointments.

Products to use when bathing your bub

Newborn babies have sensitive skin, which needs some special TLC at bath time. When selecting products for bathing a newborn, look for mild cleansers specially formulated for babies. Most are fragrance-free, soap-free, paraben-free and pH-neutral, helping to maintain the delicate balance of your baby’s skin.

How to bath a newborn

Wondering how to bath a newborn? Whether it’s your newborn’s first bath or you’re looking for a refresher on your technique, there are a few key steps to follow.

  1. Fill your baby’s bath with warm water – you will only need a few centimetres of water for a newborn, so be careful not to fill the tub too high. Check the temperature, ensuring it’s between 37°C and 38°C.
  2. Use a soft, wet washcloth to gently wipe your baby’s eyelids, starting from the inner corner and wiping towards the outer eye. Be sure to use a clean section of the washcloth for each eye.
  3. Gently wash your baby’s face using warm water and a washcloth, being careful to avoid getting water in your baby’s nose or eyes.
  4. Undress your baby, removing all clothing items and their nappy.
  5. Lower your baby gently into the bath, with their head and shoulders cradled by one arm and their body with the other. Their feet should be the first part of their body to enter the water, followed by their legs and torso.
  6. Using a washcloth, warm water and a mild cleanser if needed, gently wash your baby. Start from their neck and work your way down to their genitals and bottom last. Be sure to gently clean their skin creases, including those around their neck, armpits and groin.
  7. If you wish to wash your baby’s hair, gently splash their head with warm water and wipe with a clean, soft washcloth. If you’d like, you can also use baby shampoo. Leave this step until last to prevent your bub’s head from getting cold.

How to care for your bub post-bathtime

Done bathing a newborn? Once you’ve carefully lifted them out of the bath, it’s time to dry them and dress them. Learn how with the following steps:

  1. Wrap your little one in a soft, clean towel.
  2. Pat them dry, focusing on any skin creases around their neck, armpits and groin.
  3. Apply creams or lotions as needed. Keep an eye out for dry skin or nappy rash, which may need further attention.
  4. Dress your baby, starting with a clean nappy and following with clean, comfortable clothing.

Safety tips for bathing a newborn

Bathtime can be an excellent opportunity to bond with your little one, but there are a few key steps to consider to help ensure your little one’s safety.

Check your newborn’s bath temperature

To prevent burns and scalds, ensure your newborn’s bath water is between 37°C and 38°C. Use a baby bath thermometer to check the temperature or, if you don’t have one on hand, check the water using your wrist or elbow. The water should be warm but not hot.

If you are filling the bath with a tap, run cold water for a few seconds once the bath is ready. This will help avoid burns or scalds caused by hot water dripping from the tap.

Never let your little one out of your sight

When your little one is in the bath, it’s important to never let them out of your sight. Babies can drown in shallow water in just a few seconds. If you need to leave the room for any reason, take your baby with you or ask another adult to supervise them.

Drain the bathtub as soon as bath time ends

While your newborn may not be mobile just yet, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of draining the bathtub as soon as bath time ends. Even just a few centimetres of water can pose a drowning risk to babies and toddlers.

Always keep a hand on your baby

Babies can be slippery when wet and may like to wriggle around during bathtime. Keeping a hand on your baby ensures you act quickly to keep their head out of the water if they start to slip or slide into the water.

Bathing your baby for the first time may seem a little daunting, but with the right items on hand and enough time to relax and enjoy the experience, it’ll soon become a special bonding opportunity for you and your bub. It can take time to find a routine that suits your family, so enjoy the process and getting to know the newest member of your clan.

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