September 8, 2019

If you have a newborn at home, there’s so much to get your head around! From feeding to sleeping to bath time, it’s a whole new World.

If you’re wondering how to bath a baby, we’ve got you covered.  Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to bath a baby as well as the answers to a few common questions …

1. How often should you bath your baby?

New bubs aren’t exactly out and about getting dirty so there’s no real need to bath your baby everyday.  We like to recommend a full bath every second day with a quick wipe down of their face, neck, underarms and between their legs when not doing a full wash.  Some Mums however find that once they master the process of bathing their baby, it’s a really nice way to relax their baby.  A nice warm, relaxing bath for baby can also be a lovely part of a routine; perhaps ‘getting ready for the evening sleep’.

Some products can be drying on your baby’s skin so be sure you are using good quality baby products; look for products that are non-drying, paraben free, mineral oil free, hypoallergenic, and dermatologist tested so you are using only the best on your baby’s skin.

2. Is it better to bath your baby in the morning or night?

Like most questions when it comes to your baby, there is no perfect answer. Be guided by your baby and your own routine and comfort levels.  You might prefer to bath your Bub when you have someone else at home to either help you manage or to take care of the other kids while you enjoy some one-on-one time with bub. Or if it works for your routine, you might like to bath your bub once everyone else has left for the day.

As your bub gets a little older however, you may like to pop them in the bath while your older children are bathing or you may find that an evening bath starts to signal the end of the day and time to get ready for the night’s sleep.

3. Is a sponge bath good enough for a baby?

There are a few ways to bath your baby and on those days when time or your energy levels don’t allow for a full bath, a sponge bath is absolutely fine.

To set up for a sponge bath you’ll need:

  • A towel laid over your change mat (or wherever you would normally change your bub)
  • A nappy and a clean change of clothes (or jammies)
  • A bowl of warm water and a squirt of a good quality baby bath product
  • A soft flannel or a sponge

Lay your bub on the towel and undress them.  Keep the ends of the towel crossed over bub (for warmth and a sense of security).  Then simply dip your sponge into the warm bath water, squeeze out excess water and run all over bub.  Your main areas are their face and then bub’s creases – under their chin, behind their neck, under their arms, bottom cheeks and between their legs.

Finish off with a massage with a good quality baby massage oil and then get bub dressed.

4. What type of bath tub is best for a baby?

Like almost everything to do with caring for your bub, you are going to have a load of choices when it comes to baby baths. If you decide to buy a baby bath at all.

Some mums will go straight to the family bath tub and either just hold bub in place or invest in a bath sling or bath seat specifically designed for newborns. If using a bath sling or bath seat, remember to always stay with your baby while he or she in the bath. Alternatively, mums may hop in and enjoy a bath with their baby (we would definitely only suggest doing this if there is someone else at home to take bub from you once they are done so that you’re not struggling to get out of the bath with a slippery little one on board).

If you’ve had a caesarean or the idea of bending down to bath your bub doesn’t appeal, there are lots of options that allow you to stand up while bathing bub …

A plastic bath tub that sits on your kitchen bench is nice and cheap – our biggest tip here is to look for one with a built in plug so that all you need to do to empty is to move over the kitchen sink and pull the plug.  We’d also suggest buying a rubber shower nozzle that will fit your kitchen tap to allow you to easily fill the bath (much quicker than using a jug to fill).

Other mums love a bath that is specially designed to mirror the womb (but looks like a bucket) so worth checking out if a more traditional bath isn’t your ideal.

And some Mums are very comfortable bathing bub in a nice clean laundry tub or even a freshly cleaned kitchen sink when they are tiny! If you go for this option, just watch they don’t push off one end with their feet and bump their head on the other end.

Most important to remember is that no bath or bath product is safe enough for you to take a hand or your eyes off your baby. 

5. What’s the best way to hold my baby in the bath?

We are so glad there are bathing classes in hospital otherwise holding baby whilst giving bub a bath could be scary indeed!  

The way we’d suggest holding your bub for their bath when they are tiny is to lay their head on the inside of your non-dominant hand’s wrist (so if you write with your right hand, lay bub’s head on the inside of your left wrist).  Then gently hold their upper left arm with your left hand and gently lift them into the bath and lower them in.  This won’t hurt them at all – in fact it allows them to float almost freely without their head sinking and leaves your dominant hand completely free.

6. What type of soap and shampoo should I use?

If there’s a word to describe what you’re looking for, it’s gentle! Your bub’s skin is so new, you need to avoid harsh products and chemicals as much as possible. You don’t need to spend a fortune or look beyond the supermarket or pharmacy, but you should always look for baby bath, shampoo and after bath products that are non-drying, paraben free, mineral oil free, hypoallergenic, and dermatologist tested.

7. What should you use after you bath your baby?

If your baby’s skin is normal with no problems presenting at all, you may like to use a Baby Lotion after bath.  A light after-bath massage for your baby is a beautiful experience for you both (usually) and if the lotion is good quality, it’s going to restore any moisture lost to the elements.  

If your baby’s skin has any conditions, this will require a more specialised product. Ask your Early Childhood Nurse, your GP or your Pharmacist for advice, monitor the results and if symptoms persist, revisit your health professional.

8. What temperature should the bath water be?

A lovely warm bath is always going to be more relaxing (for everyone).  The ideal temperature for a baby’s bath is as close to 37 degrees Celsius as possible.  If you are unable to change the temperature on your hot water heater, always have a bath thermometer handy so you can check.

To make your baby more comfortable during the bath process, ensure the water is comfortably warm before you start undressing and bathing. 

We hope that these tips have helped you figure out how to bath your baby.  They’ve come from several Mums in the MoM team who have all had children.  The good news about bathing your baby is that it does get easier after the first few times.

Before long, you’ll have the process down pat, you’ll have the perfect range of products for bathing your baby and your bub will also be comfortable with bath time.  You’ll soon find that bath time is a beautiful time of the day and you’ll both look forward to it.

Cetaphil Baby are one of MoM’s partners and we love working with them.  We love that the team at Cetaphil are always keen to have real mums like you trial and review their products and/or packaging and if necessary, refine their products based on your feedback. Cetaphil Baby have a beautiful range of products purpose built to care for your baby’s skin that are non-drying, paraben free, mineral oil free, hypoallergenic, and dermatologist tested. CET19-08-1745


What do you think of our tips for How to Bath a Baby?  Did we miss anything or do you have anything to add? We’d love to hear from you in the comments x

  • It’s been a long time since I bathed my baby, but I remember is was always a calm and happy time.


  • That is one comprehensive list, I always bath my son at night as its part of his routine and helps him sleep. Plus there’s no way I could get 2 kids and myself ready in the morning if bath time was part of it


  • Always a good reminder. It’s been almost 14 years for me, but with a wonderful new partner, you can never say never.


  • I think making sure older kids are safe and occupied will also make baby bath time calmer.


  • Some handy tips in this post. When my oldest was a newborn I’d bath her every second day as she was born in winter and it was freezing. She’d have a full wipe down in between in a nice heated room. As she got older bath time occurred more so in the evening as a relaxer – she soon fell into the routine of dinner, bath and bed.


  • Handy hints for those unsure of what they are doing. A bit too involved for me though with all the instructions. My lot loved their baths in a baby bath tub. Lucky when I got to baby four and lower had plenty of help as their older siblings were in their late teens or 20’s.


  • Baby one adored her bath, but she liked it VERY warm! Her base temperature was always high. Baby two despised the baby bath. So I would put a stool in the shower and feed him whilst I at least got wet, (which, let’s face it is nothing short of a miracle some days when you have a baby!).


  • Was terrified of early baths with each of my kids. You forget how tiny they are!
    But loved bath time and as a bedtime routine- relaxed bub and helped build sleep association. When mine where born until about 4 months I’d bath them every 2nd night. Their skin is so fragile and didn’t want to strip natural oils and moisture. Plus we all have excema so had to be very careful.
    My kids still love their baths and I love the post bath clean smell, pj’s and snuggles.


  • Great tips for first time mums…i remembered how stressed i was with bathing newborn…


  • great tips for first time mums. love reading such articles which help the community.

    • I agree 100% . Such a wonderful helpful read for first time parents.


  • Bath time was a very stressful time for us, lots of tears. Wish we had these tips. Will be keeping them in mind for the next bubs.


  • We always called the sponge bath the Top and Tail, for when they were in between baths


  • Great tips! Bath time could be lots of fun or filled with tears. Luckily there are no more tears now!


  • Thanks for such a comprehensive list, bath time is always fun, my son loves the routine of a bath before bed and helps him sleep


  • Both my kids loved bath time as babies. It always calmed them too.


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