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Bathing your Newborn Baby

For the first week or so, until your baby's umbilical cord stump falls off and the area heals, it's best to stick to a top-to-toe bath with a warm, wet sponge or facecloth. Always wash your baby's face and hands first and the groin area last.

After the umbilical cord stump dries up and falls off and the area has healed, you can start giving your baby real baths. While a baby is tiny, it makes most sense to use the kitchen sink or a small plastic baby bath instead of a standard one. Some parents choose to bath their baby every day and make this part of the daily routine, but this is not essential.

When you do bath your baby, you may find it a little scary at first. Handling a wriggling, wet and soapy little creature takes practice and confidence, so stay calm and maintain a good grip on your baby. Some babies find the warm water very soothing. Others cry through the whole bath or when you get baby in and out. Keeping the bathing room warm can help. Another trick is to try putting a wet facecloth on your baby's tummy to help baby feel secure while in the bath.

Here are some tips for the first bath:

  • Get everything you need ready first: mild soap, cottonwool balls, towel, nappy and clothes.
  • Fill two-thirds of the bath and carefully check the temperature with your elbow. The water should be no hotter than 38oC. A baby can get third-degree burns in less than 50 seconds if the water is at 60oC.
  • Making the room warm will help this to be a nice experience for you and your baby and a cold room could give baby a shock. Bring your baby to the bath area and undress baby completely.
  • Gradually slip your baby into the bath feet first, using one hand to support baby's neck and head. Pour capfuls of water over baby regularly during the bath so baby doesn't get too cold.
  • To clean baby, use just water or a very small amount of mild baby soap as you wash baby with your hand or a facecloth from top to bottom, front and back. When your baby is used to having regular baths, a good habit to get into is to wash baby's face and hair over the bath before you put baby in. Use moistened cottonwool balls (no soap) to clean baby's eyes and face. If dried mucus has collected in the corners of your baby's nostrils or eyes, dab it several times to soften it before you wipe it out. Wash baby's scalp with a wet, soapy facecloth.
  • Rinse your baby thoroughly and then lift baby out of the bath, with one hand supporting baby's neck and head and the other under baby's bottom, with thumb and forefinger around one thigh. A wet baby can easily slip out of your hands.
  • Wrap your baby in a towel and pat baby dry. If baby's skin tends to be dry, you may want to apply a mild lotion or cream after baby's bath. Then put baby's nappy on and dress baby.


Yellow Duck Baby has a wide range of baby towels and accessories to assist when bathing your little one. Click here to view the baby bathtime baby gifts.

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