How to Prepare for Baby’s First Bath

Newborn baby in baby bath whilst being held by parent
Newborn baby being held by the head by parent in water

Your bundle of joy is finally here and it’s time for the first bath. The idea of bathing your tiny little human for the first time may fill you with fear. And we expect you may have a ton of questions you want to ask before you pop them in the tub. When to give a baby their first bath? Is the bath water too hot? What products can I use? The questions are endless. However, the key to your babe’s first tub experience is to be prepared – you’ll want everything that you could possibly need within arm’s reach. Before you know it, with our guidance, you’ll be making sweet memories of your bub splashing about happily.  

The benefits of bath time 

There are plenty of benefits to tub time for your baby other than giving them a good clean and capturing lots of cute photos. These include: 

  • Improves parent-baby bond 
    We guarantee bath time will soon become your favourite part of the day, and your little one’s too. After all, it’s when you and your sweetness get to spend some quality time together. Taking care of your bub lets them know you care about them. Gaze into their eyes, kiss their cute little cheeks, count those teeny tiny toes and coo to your heart’s desire. Feeling your soft touch and hearing your voice will let your babe know just how much they are loved, building that beautiful connection between you. 
  • Great learning experience 
    You may be surprised to know tub time is actually a place where lots can be learned. Delight your babe’s senses by trickling water gently onto their belly and watch them giggle away. Or teach your bub a cause-and-effect lesson by showing them how to kick the water and create a splash. Remember – always watch your little one to make sure they’re happy and enjoying what you’re teaching them. Don’t forget to go through and name your baby’s little body parts as you bathe them. Before you know it, they’ll be learning a bath-full of words!  
  • Prompts sleep 
    The best reason to love bath time with your sweetheart – it’ll make them sleepy! This means one less thing for you to stress over. Add bath time to your little one’s bedtime routine and it’ll help them to fall into a peaceful slumber. The warm water, warm room and warm feeling of being safe will get your babe in the mood for a snooze. 

When to start bathing baby 

Mum looking down and holding newborn in baby bath

You’re probably wondering when to give your baby their first bath? Well, it’s a little-known fact that there’s actually not a huge need to wash your newborn. Healthy babes are born with a special coating called vernix caseosa. It’s a waxy substance which helps regulate temperature whilst keeping your little one’s delicate skin moisturised. So, there’s no rush when it comes to bathing your new bundle of joy for the first time. In fact, the World Health Organisation recommend waiting 24 hours after birth, and the NHS suggests the topping and tailing technique. This method is where you wash your bub’s face, neck, hands and bottom out of the tub with a sponge/cloth and warm water. Until you feel confident about washing your little one in the bath – this method works a treat. After their belly button (and circumcised area, if applicable) has healed, you can begin bathing your bub once or twice a week. 

Be prepared though – mess is on its way! Once your babe starts crawling, eating, and exploring every single inch of your home, they’re bound to get dirty – and fast. In this case, make sure in between full tub time (probably every 1-2 days), to keep their face, hands, neck, and bottom clean with a warm, wet cloth. 

Bathing essentials 

Baby bathing essentials such as thermometer, nappies, hairbrush, dummy, towel and toy

It goes without saying that you’ll need a baby bath set for bathing your little one. Thankfully, there are lots of different options out there. Standalone baths are a particularly good choice if you suffer from back problems, as they don’t require you to bend over the tub. Plus, they’re particularly great for small bathrooms, as they just sit inside your regular bathtub to safely support your bub whilst you wash them. 

If you do tend to kneel by the bath – your knees may begin to ache. So, you may want to consider investing in kneeling pads. They provide a comfortable and sturdy surface to cushion your knees – we really have thought of everything for parents too! 

Wondering what else you’ll need to make your angel’s first bath a walk in the park? Here are our bath time essentials: 

  • Baby thermometer 
    The optimal temperature is 37 degrees for a baby bath and at first it can be hard to know when you’ve got this right. A tip we recommend is to dip your elbow into the water. This is because they’re more sensitive than your hands, so it’ll give you a more accurate idea of the temperature. However, if you want full comfort knowing your baby’s bath isn’t too warm nor cold – buy a baby thermometer. 
  • Flannels, sponges and towels 
    You want to make sure you buy flannels or sponges which are super soft on your newborn’s delicate skin. There’s plenty to choose from whether it’s bath sponges or gentle flannels. Quick tip – to keep your little one warm during tub time – place a warm, wet flannel over their tummy. This will stop any exposed parts of their adorable little belly getting cold. You may also want to buy some baby towels, as they won’t be as cumbersome as your regular bath towels. Plus, most of them have little hoods as well – super cute! 

How to wash a baby 

Remember – your little one may make a fuss about their first bath. Don’t worry though as this is completely normal! Eventually, they’ll become accustomed to the ritual and there will be lots of splish-splash fun. Here’s how to wash your little water baby: 

  1. Wash their face 
    We recommend washing your babe’s face before you take off their clothes. It’ll startle some little ones being naked and cold, and we don’t want any tears during bath time. Wet a cotton ball or washcloth and wipe their eyelids from the inside corner out. Use one cotton ball for each eye. With another damp cotton ball, clean around their cute, little button nose. Remember – don’t use soap on their face. Also, always keep one hand on your bub when dipping the washcloth in the sink, and don’t douse it completely. This is to avoid them annoying drips!  
  1. Clean their ears 
    To clean the outside of your little one’s ears, use a damp cotton swab or washcloth. Don’t clean inside their ears; cotton buds and teeny tiny ears don’t mix well together!  
  1. Wash their hair 
    When you’re shampooing your baby’s hair, hold their head back slightly to support their spine. Sprinkle their head gently with warm water and squeeze on a drop or two of soap. Lather up, massage gently, and rinse with a wet washcloth. Finish off by drying your angel’s head with a towel. 
  1. Bathe them 
    Now it’s time to undress your little one and get them ready for bathing. Lay them down flat and put some mild baby wash on a washcloth. Remember – don’t overdo it! Your newborn’s skin is very delicate at this stage. Wash your babe’s neck and scalp, then work your way down to the front of their body. Make sure to also clean in between the folds of their skin. Rinse your angel with another damp cloth, drying and rewrapping them up with a towel. Our experts advise to not wash the umbilical stump and aim to keep that area as dry as possible. Flip your child over onto their tummy with their head turned to one side. Then repeat the washing, rinsing and drying routine until you’re satisfied your babe is clean as a whistle.  
  1. Dry and apply lotion 
    Your little human will get cold quickly so try to dry and cover them with a towel on the areas you’ve just washed to keep them nice and toasty. Remember to get into the creases with the towel too. Before you clothe them and put their nappy on, you can also pop on lotion – especially if your babe is prone to eczema.   

Bath time tips 

Mum putting lotion on hand to put on newborn baby
  • Massage your baby 
    Who doesn’t love a massage? Right after you’ve given your little one a bath is a great time for a relaxing baby massage. It may also help them to unwind and sleep. Remember – don’t use any massage oil or lotion until your babe is at least one month old. 
  • Get in the bath with your baby 
    It goes without saying, some little ones find bath time scary. In this case, getting in the bath with your baby may help. Get someone to help you by holding your teeny tot whilst you get in and out of the bath yourself. 
  • Coo sweet nothings or sing  
    Telling your little one how loved they are or singing silly songs is a great idea. The sound of your calming voice can help soothe and relax your babe during tub time. 
  • Use bath time to care for their skin 
    If your little one has cradle cap, it may help to wash their hair with baby shampoo whilst using a soft brush to delicately loosen any flakes of skin. If your bub is prone to dry skin or eczema, after a bath is an ideal time to apply a gentle moisturising cream. Make sure this is prescribed or recommended by your health professionals. 
  • Never leave your baby alone in the water 
    Don’t take your eyes off your bundle of joy – not even for a second. If you need to turn away or leave the room urgently, lift your little one out of the bath and take them with you. Make sure they’re wrapped up in a towel though so that they’re nice and warm.  
  • Don’t add anything to the water 
    Our experts say not to use any soap or add any cleansers/bubble bath to the water when it comes tub time for newborns. All you need to do for the first month is wash your bubba’s skin in nothing but plain water.  

Now that you’re clued up on queries from when to start bathing a baby to how to wash a baby, all that matters is that you relax and take this time to enjoy an important milestone. Maybe your little human kicks up a fuss when it comes to their first water experience. Or maybe you manage to capture an adorable video of them giggling away and splashing about. Whatever happens – this is a special time for you and your new arrival. The first bath is always unique and different for every parent. So, no matter the result, it’s going to be special!  

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