Washing and bathing your baby
It is important that you wash or bathe your baby carefully every day, though you don’t need to give them a full bath every day.
How to wash your baby
You should wash their face, neck, hands and bottom carefully each day. You can do this on a changing mat.
Choose a time when your baby is awake and contented and make sure the room is warm.
You will need a bowl of warm water, some cotton wool, a towel and a fresh nappy. You do not need to use soap on a new baby.
When washing your baby:
- take off your baby’s clothes except for the vest and nappy and wrap your baby in a towel
- gently wipe round each eye, from the nose side outwards using a fresh piece of cotton wool for each eye so you don’t transfer any stickiness or infection
- using fresh, moist cotton wool, wipe out each ear, but don’t clean inside their ears – never use cotton buds in the ear canal
- wash the rest of your baby’s face and neck with moist cotton wool and dry gently – wash and dry your baby’s hands in the same way
- take off the nappy and wash your baby’s bottom and genitals – see the page on changing your baby’s nappy for more information
How to bathe your baby
You should bath your baby two or three times a week, or more often if they enjoy it. Don’t bath them straight after a feed or when they are hungry or sleepy. Make sure the room is warm and that you have everything you need ready before putting your baby in the bath.
When bathing your baby, you should:
- check that the water is not too hot – test it with your wrist or elbow to make sure it is comfortable warm
- undress your baby and wrap them snugly in a towel - wash your baby’s face with cotton wool and water as described above, there is no need to use any soap
- wash your baby’s hair with mild, unscented baby shampoo, supporting their head over the baby bath or basin and rinse carefully – you don’t need to use shampoo every time
- take their nappy off at the last minute
- put your baby gently into the water and, using one hand for support, gently swish the water to wash them without splashing their face
- if your baby seems frightened of the bath and cries, it will help to talk in a low voice
- never leave your baby in the water alone, even for a few seconds
- for boys, gently clean the top of the foreskin of the penis – the foreskin can be pulled back very gently to clean
- let your baby out and pat them dry with a warm towel – if your baby’s skin is dry, gently massage in some baby oil or cream