Learn how to bathe your baby

Your step by step instructions for bathing a newborn

In Newborn

    4-minutes read

    At a glance

    Never leave your baby unattended in the bath          

    Clean your baby’s eyes with cooled boiled water and cotton wool


    Bathe baby in less than 12cm of warm water (no more than 38°C)

    Make sure baby is completely dried – don’t forget their creases

    With the right preparation, bathing your baby can be a lovely bonding experience. How often to bathe a newborn is up to you – there is no rule. But there’s no need to bathe them every day and you may wish to wait a few days before bathing baby for the first time.  For the first few days you may even prefer to “top and tail” your baby instead - learn how to here.

    Remember it’s very important to never leave your baby unattended in the bath.

    • Start by gathering together everything you need: a baby bath if you’re using one, a bath thermometer, a towel, a small plastic bowl with cooled boiled water, some cotton wool, a clean nappy and clean clothes to change your baby into
    • Fill the baby bath with about 12 cm of warm water. Run the cold water first, then add the hot water to avoid hot spots
    • Use a bath thermometer to make sure the bath temperature for baby is no more than 38°C. Then test the water yourself before putting baby in - use your elbow to check the water is warm, not hot to the touch
    • Undress your baby down to their nappy. Keep them warmly wrapped in a towel while you wash their face and eyes
    • Use cotton wool balls moistened with cooled, boiled water and check the temperature of the water before. Wipe from the inside of the eye outward, using each piece of cotton wool once only
    • Remove any bracelets or rings you are wearing. Then remove the baby’s nappy and put them in the bath. To hold them firmly but gently, place one hand around the back and grip under their arm, with your wrist or forearm supporting their head. Your other hand is then free to wash your baby
    • Lift your baby out of the bath, with one hand around the back and the other gripping under their arm. Your wrist of forearm should support their head. Wrap your baby in a towel, remembering to cover their head, and pat dry, including all the creases. Then put on a nappy and dress them as soon as possible

    How to hold a newborn

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    What is topping and tailing?

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    Important advice to mothers

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life. SMA® Nutrition fully supports this and continued breastfeeding, along with the introduction of complementary foods as advised by your healthcare professional.