By Raising Children Network
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Preparing a newborn bath

Demonstration of preparing the bath area; testing the water temperature; and cleaning baby's eyes before washing her hair and body.
  • Start by collecting all the bath items you need – towel/s, washcloth, cotton wool, new nappy and clean clothes. Put them within easy reach of the bath. Have an unfolded towel ready to dry your baby.

  • Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature. Fill the bath with about 10-13 cm of warm water. Test the water with a bath thermometer, your wrist or elbow – it should be about 37-38°C and not feel hot

  • Moisten a cotton wool ball with warm water and gently clean your baby’s eyelids, wiping from inner eye to outer eye. Use a different piece of cotton wool for each eye.


Bathing a newborn

Lower baby into the bath
  • Once the bath is ready, undress your baby. Cradle his head and shoulders with one hand and support his body with the other. Gently lower him into the bath.

  • Once or twice a week wash your baby’s hair. To do so, lay baby in the bath and gently splash some water onto his head. You don’t need shampoo until he’s older.

  • Use a soft washcloth for the following steps. 1. Gently clean baby’s face. 2. Clean baby’s neck and body. 3. Clean baby’s genitals and bottom last.


Newborn bath safety

Never leave a baby unattended in the bath; soap is not necessary; secure baby in a bouncer before disposing of the bathwater.
  • Babies can drown in less than 5 cm of water. Never leave your newborn unattended in the bath. If you have to leave the bath area, wrap baby in a towel and take her with you.

  • You don’t usually need to use soap – it can make your newborn slippery and irritate the skin. Use a mild, gentle non-soap cleanser if needed. 

  • Put your baby in a safe place, like a cot or bassinette, before you tip out the bathwater.

  • Last updated or reviewed 04-06-2018