To bath or not to bath…

7 years ago
+ Return to blog

Babies love to have a bath but sometimes parents are unsure as to the when and how.

When I was a student midwife we would whisk the baby away from mum immediately after birth for a bath in antiseptic solution. Afterwards, we would tightly wrap the baby in two or three baby wraps and hand the package back to mum – both looking fairly stunned! As midwives we then ‘assisted’ the baby onto the breast by holding the baby’s head and mum’s breast and bringing the two together! Thank goodness these days have passed.

My top bath tips:

The first bath should be a calm and gentle experience for mothers/parents and their new baby though it generally happens as a ‘demonstration bath’ under staff supervision. Here’s what I think…

  • Bath your baby halfway through a feed so he isn’t screaming with hunger (don’t let the staff tell you otherwise)
  • Don’t use anything in the water! Babies are not dirty and don’t need product on their brand new skin (most, if not all products are petroleum based)
  • Hold your baby safely and let her float and relax in the bath
  • There is no ‘cleaning regime’ that has to be followed, just lower your baby gently into the bath, making sure you have a secure hold – perhaps use a soft washer between your hand and your baby’s back if you feel unsure
  • Your calm, quiet baby will enjoy watching your face/s while you hold him and talk to him – he may well fall off to sleep
  • After the bath, finish feeding your baby to help him fall easily back to sleep

Subsequent baths:

  • You can bath your baby anytime it suits you!
  • Bathing is a wonderful way for your partner to have time with your baby
  • A quick dip halfway through every feed into a tepid bath on hot sticky days helps soothe a hot and uncomfortable baby and makes finishing the feed and settling a lot easier
  • A warm bath before the last feed (the one you give before you go to bed) may help settle the baby more easily (as long as they are not still hungry)
  • Cool baths will help bring down a baby’s temperature (as long as you don’t overwrap them after the bath)