How To Bathe Your Baby Safely

Baby bath time is a fun bonding time for parent and baby that mixes play, relaxation and cleansing. However there are a few things to keep in mind when bathing your baby, particularly newborns. New mothers may find bathing their baby for the first time quite frightening, but with the right knowledge and a bit of experience this turns into a lovely experience to look forward to for both mum and baby.

Let me just start off with the two golden rules for bathing a baby, toddler or young child, and I am highlighting this at it is paramount.

  1. Never leave your baby unattended in water – It does not matter how little the water in the tub or pool is or even if you have an older child, you must always be present every second.
  2. Always check the temperature and pour cold water first – You can rather check the temperature of the water a dozen times than burn your baby. Drawing cold water first in a bathtub is crucial when you have kids or even just pets as they may accidentally slip and trip into the bathtub, which gets me back to the first rule, do not leave small children or babies unattended near water.

Now lets take a look at a few helpful tips on bathing your baby;

Bathing a newborn

Personally I found that the best way to bathe a newborn is in a tub that is next to your changing area, in a heated room. I strongly recommend a baby bath tub that is designed with a positioner where baby can lie with their body fully emerged and their head up. This type of tub also makes rinsing their hair much easier. Newborns need only to be bathed about two to three times a week, but I enjoyed bathing my newborn baby every night as this was part of her bedtime routine and a relaxing and bonding time for us both.

How to bathe your newborn

When you have chosen a medium to bathe your baby in, fill it up with lukewarm water so that the baby’s body can be emerged up to their shoulders when they are lying down. Take care that the temperature is right, it should be around 35 to 36 degrees Celsius for a newborn, if you have a thermometer, otherwise just test it with your wrist.

Always keep your baby’s head supported, and gently and slowly lower baby into the bath.

I usually washed my newborn baby with soap using my hands, but you can use a soft baby cloth. Make sure to clean neck and the nappy area thoroughly. Use cotton balls and purified water to clean baby’s face and eyes the first month or so, after that you can just wipe it with the washcloth.

Hair should not be washed too often at first, just make sure when washing your baby’s hair that you keep their ears closed so no water gets inside, I just placed my thumb over each ear when rinsing.

Now, very important, newborns get cold easily, hence the heated room, so when lifting baby out of the bath, do so fast and gently and wrap them up in a towel preferably with a hood. From here on you can dry baby gently and I also like to moisturize with baby oil or lotion before dressing my baby. Just keep in mind to do this quite quick with a newborn as they cannot yet regulate their own body temperature.

Another tip is only to feed a few steps if the baby is hungry before bath time and to feed a proper main feeding after a bath, this sets a good routine.

I bath my baby before bedtime, other mothers prefer bathing in the afternoon before nap time, the choice here is up to you.

Newborn bathing outside the tub

A method that I was shown in the hospital to bathe a newborn was to first lather baby up with soap outside the bath on a towel and then to rinse your baby in the tub. Honestly, I do not prefer this method but it is the recommended method by hospital nurses and doctors.

Bathing an Older Baby or Toddler

As your baby gets older you will see that bathing gets easier and much more enjoyable, the mess also increases with the fun, as splashing commences and bubble bath overflows.

When To Bath Baby in a Normal Tub

As soon as your baby can sit up independently and sturdily without losing balance, I would say it is a safe bet to start bathing them in your tub. You will also see that baby starts getting too big and too active for the baby bathtub, and that the splashing can get slightly chaotic, especially when bathing your baby in a bedroom as I did.

My second daughter got so busy in the baby tub that she almost knocked the bathtub off the changing table, this is where I decided that it’s time for the “grown-up” tub.

I now have a two-year-old and ten-month-old that splash away in my bathroom, leaving more water on the floor than in the tub, but it is all in the name of entertainment and parenting.

A few tips and rules once again;

  • Never leave your baby unattended
  • Check the temperature
  • Draw cold water first

I found that the water should not be more than waist high in the tub, this works well for both my babies.

A few more tips from my side:

Bubble bath is great fun for children but should not be used every night as it dries out their skin.

If I can give good advise use bath and body products that do not contain (SLS) Sodium Laureth Sulphate or parabens, or try natural products, these are just so much better for baby’s skin. One of my daughters has Eczema and I found this very helpful.

Add some bath toys to the tub, make sure that they are safe.

Invest in a rubber mat to place in the bath to prevent sitting, this was a great help for me with my eldest who loves to stand up in the bath.

Lastly, have fun bathing your baby!

If you keep the three golden rules the rest should come naturally.

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