When it comes to bathing your baby, there are a few essentials you'll need to have on hand. In this guide, we will discuss the best way to bathe your little one and some tips for keeping them safe and comfortable during bath time. If you're unsure about how to bathe a baby, don't worry - we've got you covered!
How Often Should I Bathe My Baby?
Bathing is a personal preference, but most babies only need a bath every 3-4 days.
Babies have an innate self-cleaning system that works to keep them clean and healthy. The natural oils produced by a baby's skin work as a barrier against infection and helps keep the skin hydrated. Soaps can strip away these oils, leaving the skin vulnerable to infection and dryness.
That said, there are some instances when it may be necessary to bathe a baby more often - such as if they're experiencing diaper rash or are particularly soiled. And if your baby has very dry skin, you may need to bathe them more often in order to keep their skin hydrated.
Time of Day
You can bathe baby at any time of the day, but many parents prefer to give baby a bath before bed as part of their bedtime routine. Baths can be calming for babies and they enjoy the bonding with their parents so that's why pre-bed is an ideal time. That said, many parents bathe their babies at other times of day which is also perfectly fine!
Just choose a time of day when baby is calm and content, perhaps following a feed, or a bowel movement!
The best water temperature to bathe a baby is around 37.7 degrees Celsius / 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the same temperature as your body when you are well.
Babies have thin skin and are susceptible to getting cold, so it's important to bathe them in warm water. However, you don't want the water to be so hot that it could cause the baby to become overheated. Keeping the water at body temperature will ensure that bay stays the perfect temperature.
You can test this manually by dipping your elbow into the water, if you can feel the water (either too hot or too cold) then it's the wrong temperature.
You can also get a more accurate reading by using a baby bath thermometer, for more information on which are the best baby bath thermometers, check out my blog The 3 Best Baby Bath Thermometers.
Ensure the room you are bathing them in is also warm so that they don't get a nasty shock when they get out of the water. Again you can judge this manually or use a baby room thermometer.
Baby Bath Products
The NHS recommends baby's bath doesn't have any bubbles or unnecessary soap added to the water. This can dry out baby's sensitive skin and they aren't old enough to get the enjoyment from bubbles that toddlers do. So its best to leave the water clean and clear for bathing baby.
While the water should be pure, you will need a good baby wash to give your little one a clean. You should purchase a special formulated baby wash as adult washes contain chemicals that can be harmful to baby as well as hurt if it gets in their eyes. Baby-specific washes are formulated with mild ingredients that will not dry out or stick too heavily to baby's skin, while still getting them nice and clean.
Once baby is happy and calm in the water, you can start to clean them. One way to do this is to rest them on your knee or over your forearm. Firstly wash their face, being careful not to splash water into their eyes. You don't need a cleansing product to wash their face and they are likely to get upset with you if you try!
Next, you can wash their hair using a baby wash. make sure the soap doesn't get close to their eyes. It can be a little tricky holding baby with one arm while doing this so it could be a good idea to enlist the help of a Baby Bath Support so that you have both arms free.
You may then splash water over the rest of baby to clean them. If your baby is over 6 months old and sitting independently, you may like to let them sit n the bath for a few minutes to play with some bath toys. Remember NEVER to leave your baby alone and not to take your eyes off them from even a second. Baby baths can be a fun way to give baby a little independence to splash around while keeping them upright and stop them from slipping. Some baby baths even come with built in thermometers!
Wrap baby in a towel as soon as they leave the water. If you are bathing baby alone a good way to do this is to throw the towel over your shoulder (I actually do this before even putting baby in the bath so that I am ready to go!) then lifting baby out of the water ad holding them against you and wrapping the towel around them from your shoulder.
Take them to the room you'll be drying them in and lay them down, preferably on another clean dry towel.
You can then pat them dry, paying special attention to the creases in their skin and their little rolls.
After bath time is an ideal time to give baby a massage. There are courses you can attend for how to do this, or video tutorials on YouTube like this one:
Don't use lotions or oils if baby is less than a month old, after that you can use a specially formulated baby lotion that won't dry out their skin or leave it sticky.
Be sure to dress baby in a new nappy, use nappy rash cream if applicable and now baby is all ready for bed or the rest of their day!