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Baby’s first bath can be scary business for new parents. Here’s how to make sure it’s a relaxed and soothing experience… for everyone!

1. At first, you’ll only need to bathe your baby a few times a week, topping and tailing them (clean his face, tummy and bottom area) on non-bath days.

2. As soon as you think your baby is ready for a daily bath, make it predictable and comforting by following a regular routine. Have everything you need to hand before you start and make sure the bathroom is warm.

3. Once you’re ready, run the bath. You can use a baby bath but some parents prefer to bathe their baby in the basin – it’s a good height for you and the perfect size for baby.

4. The best way to avoid scalding your baby is to run some cold water first, then top up with warm water to a safe temperature (check it with your elbow or with a bath thermometer – it should be warm, not hot, between 36-38°C). Keep the water shallow – around 5-8cm is deep enough – and mix it to prevent hot or cold spots.

5. Place the change mat on the bathroom floor, covered in a towel, and undress your baby down to their nappy, then wrap them in the towel.

6. Keeping your baby wrapped in a towel on your knee, use separate pieces of cotton wool soaked in cool, boiled water and baby wash to clean their face, ears, around each eye and neck, paying attention to all the little creases under their chin and folds in their neck.

7. Next, unwrap your baby’s towel, remove their nappy, and carefully lower them into the water. Hold them firmly around their upper back, grasping their opposite upper arm so they rest securely along your forearm or use a baby bath support. Never leave them unsupervised in the bath, even for a second.

8. Wash them with a mild, pH-neutral body wash. For gentle hair cleansing, use a ‘no tears’ formula. Apply with your free hand, then rinse well. You can use mild baby body wash on their bottom area or add a small drop of almond oil to the bath – this is a gentle way to keep newborn skin soft.

9. After a few minutes’ play, lift them out of the bath with care, and wrap them in a cuddle robe or towel. Once they’re dry, apply baby lotion before dressing them ready for bed.

10. If your baby always cries at bathtime, cut the number of baths to two or three a week and just clean their face and bottom area on the change mat in between, using cotton wool and cool, boiled water.

What you’ll need for baby bathtime

  • Non-slip bath mat and/or bath support, if using the large bath
  • Bath thermometer
  • Clean, dry towel or two (kept for baby’s use only)
  • Gentle baby wash
  • Cotton wool and cotton buds (never insert into ear canal)
  • Changing mat, plus fresh nappy, nappy cream and clothes
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