baby bath

Bath Time

Most babies love bath time, and it can be a relaxing bedtime routine or interactive opportunity. Some newborns may be unsettled the first couple of times until they get used to it or even appear to dislike it. However, if your baby seems to hate baths, after a few attempts at different times of the day, and this is causing you or your baby distress, then a daily top and tail clean will suffice till you try again.

It is normal to feel unsure at first. Babies feel slippery, and it’s all very new for you both. Rest assured it gets easier as your confidence grows!

There is more than one way to hold a slippery baby safely.

Top and tail

Some days you just may not get around to bathing your baby, and that is fine. Generally, babies do not get too dirty! A “top and tail” wash involves just washing those areas that may need some attention. Use a clean washcloth or cotton wool to clean her eyes (from inside out) hands, genitals and bottom. Always start with the most sanitary area first, like the eyes, and end with the bottom.

Bath time equipment

If you do not have a plastic baby bath, a clean sink or laundry tub will be fine and is often a great height. If you are using a plastic tub, be careful of how it gets filled. These tubs are heavy once full of water, and you need to put them on a stable surface. To see an alternate approach that fits in your sink, please click here.

BE PREPARED – the key is to get everything ready and within arms reach before you undress your baby. This equipment includes face washer, towels, clean clothes and nappy. Preparation also includes considering the timing. Don’t bath a baby if you are about to get interrupted; it may not be a good time if you are about to get visitors.

There is no need for soaps, shampoos or lotions; in fact, perfumed lotions may remove natural oils or irritate your babies’ skin. Consult your child health nurse or pharmacist if you are worried about your baby’s skin. A sorbolene or aqueous lotion may be all that is required. Check the water temperature on your wrist or elbow; it should be around 36°C.

NEVER leave your baby or infant alone in a bath. You need to keep hold of the baby at all times and if you are worried about how slippery they may feel, use a towel in the base of the bath to help rest your baby on and stop them from sliding around. Click here for a useful video about how to hold a baby securely.

It’s bath time!

  • Always gently support your baby’s head in the bath, so it does not accidentally submerge.
  • Some babies may like a face washer on their tummy for added comfort, warmth and security.
  • Start with the clean areas first, such as the eyes and face and end with the genitals and bottom.
  • A washer or clean CHUX is handy to wash inside all the creases, hands and under the neck.
  • Bath time is a great chance to interact with your baby so soothing, talking, singing, and eye contact will help make this a special time for you both.
  • Using a clean towel, gently pat your baby dry once out of the bath, taking special care to dry inside any creases. There is no need for any powders.
  • If you are confident holding your wet baby, then showers are also an option. This idea is an excellent way dads can be involved. Once again, preparation is vital. Never leave a baby alone in the water.

You can find more information about bathing your baby here.

Janice Rowe (BMid), Registered Midwife
Photo by Chubykin Arkady used under license from