1. Resources
  2. Parenting in Pictures
  3. Babies

Bathing a newborn: in pictures

0-3 months

Preparing a bath for a newborn

Start by collecting all the bath items you need (towel/s, washcloth, cotton wool, new nappy and clean clothes) and position them near the bath. Have an unfolded towel ready to dry your baby.

Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature. Fill the bath with about 5 cm of warm water. Test the water temperature with your wrist or elbow – it should be about 36°C and should not feel hot on your skin.

Once the bath is ready, undress your baby. Cradling her head and shoulders with one hand and supporting her body with the other, gently lower her into the bath.

Bathing a newborn

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

Once or twice a week you can wash your newborn’s hair. To do so, lay baby down in the bath and gently splash some water onto his head. There’s no need for shampoo until he’s older.

Use a soft washcloth to gently clean your newborn’s face (1), then the neck and body (2), leaving the genitals and bottom until last (3).

Bath time safety for newborns

Babies can drown in less than 5 cm of water. Never leave your newborn, or any child, 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 hard to hold. But if you do decide to use soap, consider another option such as sorbolene lotion, which won’t irritate baby’s skin.

Make sure your newborn is secured in a bouncer or cot before you tip out the bathwater.

Rate this article (685 ratings)

Tap the stars to rate this article.

Thanks for rating this article.

Last updated or reviewed

  • Tell us what you think

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.

Follow us

© 2006-2017 Raising Children Network (Australia) Ltd