0-3 months

Preparing a newborn bath

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

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

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.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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