Bathing your newborn baby

How to bath a newborn baby:

It is not essential for a newborn baby to be bathed everyday.   However pooh and urine that is left on your baby’s skin for long periods, will cause the skin to break down, and possibly become infected – most likely with a candida/thrush infection.

One of a newborn baby’s major challenges is maintaining body temperature – and taking off all their clothes is one way of increasing their risk of dropping their temperature.   (A baby who is hypothermic – low body temperature less than 36.5 degrees Celcius – burns up more glucose – and also needs more oxygen to the cells.)   All of these conditions are not good for your baby, so if you do decide to bath your baby – make sure your baby is not going to be worse off because of it!


PRINCIPLE behind baby bath.   Baby is clean at the end of it.   Baby is safe.

  • Prepare first, get everything within easy reach before you start.
  • Make sure you won’t be interrupted (Phone able to collect messages etc)
  • Wash your hands before you start.
  • Undress baby and remove diaper/nappy last.
  • Water temperature must not be luke warm – it may take a few minutes to bath your baby and you don’t want baby sitting in cold water.   Water must also not be too hot.   Test the temperature – It must be pleasantly warm on a sensitive part of your skin, and allowing for fact that if your baby enjoys the bath – the water still needs to be warm in about 4 – 5 minutes time.
  • The areas that need particular cleaning are in the creases, eg, under the arms or in the groin where “vernix” that waxy substance that protects them in the womb – can remain.   Pay particular attention to those areas.
  • If baby has done a pooh – clean off the pooh before putting baby plus the pooh into the bath water!
  • Always clean “clean” areas, eg the eyes and face first.   You can use water and a cotton wool ball, or a face washer.
  • Don’t get soapy solutions in baby’s eyes.
  • Hold baby securely so baby can’t slip out of your hands.
  • Hair can be washed in the bath.   If you prefer you can wash hair OUT of the bath – keep your baby covered in a towel and only expose their head.   Hold baby’s head over the bath water, and using a gentle baby shampoo – avoiding shampoo in the eyes, wash baby’s hair.
  • Make sure you get all urine and poop off the skin.
  • Make it short and sweet if baby is not happy.
  • Take your time if baby is enjoying the bath.
  • Baby is at risk of quickly losing heat when they come out the bath water due to evaporative heat loss, so quickly cover baby with a towel, and dry the water off the baby’s skin particularly the “creases – under arms etc”
  • If baby requires a barrier cream – apply it and then secure the clean diaper first.
  • Continue to dress baby appropriately for the weather and room conditions.