How to Bath Your Baby

Our guide on how, when, and how often to clean your baby from the top of their precious head to the tips of their tiny toes.

  • Baby bath tub or a sink
  • Small towel
  • Two washcloths
  • Fresh nappy
  • Clean clothes
  • Baby oil or lotion (if using)
  • Bath thermometer (or you can use your wrist or elbow to check the temperature of the water)

Keep your pēpi safe while bathing. You should never leave your baby unattended in the bath, not even for a second. Children can drown quickly in only a few centimetres of water.

  1. It’s best to have everything ready to go within arm’s reach before you start bathing baby. You don’t want to be rushing around to get things while you’re holding a cold, wet baby.
  2. Check that the room is nice and warm and free of draughts. No one likes feeling chilly in the nude!
  3. Make sure the baby bath (if you’re using one) is at a convenient height so you feel confident holding your baby and aren’t straining your back. The surface should be safe and sturdy too.
  4. Fill the bath up with 5-10cm of warm water – the ideal temperature is around 37°C. You can test the temperature by placing your wrist or elbow in the water to see if it is warm (not too hot or too cold) to the touch, or you can use a bath thermometer to make sure it is safe. You can use a little baby wash if you would like to but most parents just use water.
  5. Before getting your pēpi undressed, hold their head above the bath or sink and use the first washcloth to clean their face. Start with the eyes, gently wiping from the inside corner outward. Use an unused part of the washcloth for each eye. Then, wipe around your baby’s nose, mouth, face, and ears. Make sure you get in all of the creases of their neck too.
  6. Next, you can wash your baby’s head and hair. It’s up to you whether you use baby shampoo or not; using water is perfectly adequate. If you would like to use some though, place a small amount of shampoo onto your fingers and lightly cleanse the scalp. Using the washcloth, rinse it off properly, being careful to protect their eyes from the soapy water.
  7. Now that their face and head are clean, you can dry your baby’s head with the towel and get them undressed.
  8. Babies can be extra slippery in water so it’s important to hold them securely. Use one arm to support your baby by wrapping your hand around their shoulder furthest from you, resting the back of their neck and shoulders on your inner forearm and wrist. This way you’ll be able to keep the other hand free for washing. With your other hand, cradle their bottom and gently lower them into the water. Wet the second washcloth in the warm water and place it over your baby’s chest and tummy to keep them warm during their bath.
  9. Wash your baby’s body, wiping all of the creases, underarms, and between their fingers and toes.
  10. You should clean your baby’s nappy area last. For a girl, wipe her vagina from front to back. For a boy, carefully wash the penis and scrotum, but you do not need to pull back the foreskin to clean it.
  11. Now that your baby is all clean, carefully lift them out of the bath onto a towel. Pat their skin to dry them thoroughly, especially in all of their creases.
  12. If you wish to give them a massage, you can apply some baby oil or lotion for this and then get them dressed.

It’s up to you how often you bath your baby; they don’t need to be washed every day like adults do. Two or three times a week is enough for a newborn.