How to bath your baby

New moms, don’t freak out – these easy tips will guarantee your little one’s first bath is a breeze.

26 September 2014
by Chisanga Mukuka

Your baby won’t need to bath as regularly as you do at first, as infants don’t get very dirty unless they soil themselves or get messy at meal times. Ensure that you’re cleaning your baby well during each diaper change and you’ll only have to give him or her a bath two to three times a week, increasing the frequency as they start to crawl and move about.

When it comes to bathing baby, ensuring the water temperature isn’t too hot or too cold is essential. “Babies get hot or cold easily,” explains PaedIQ.com paediatrician Dr Iqbal Karbanee, “so it’s best to ensure that the water is about 38°Celsius, and that the child doesn’t get cold afterwards.” For this reason, Dr Karbanee recommends a mid-morning bath.

Also note that water can dry out a baby’s skin, so in order to avoid this, bath times shouldn’t last longer than five minutes.

Cleaning your newborn

For the first few weeks, bath time will be fairly easy as you’ll only need to sponge bath your baby until the umbilical chord dries and falls off. This usually takes between 10 days and three weeks. During this time, your baby’s bath will consist of the following simple steps:

  1. Ensure that the room you’ve chosen is warm enough.
  2. Prepare a soft, flat surface to lay your baby on. Two layers of towels or a changing mat will do.
  3. Gather a towel, washcloth or sponge, and some cotton balls, and place them nearby. In the event that you forget something, you’ll have to pick up your baby mid-bath as leaving the child unattended isn’t advised.
  4. Collect some water in a small bowl or basin and use a thermometer to check the temperature.
  5. Wet the sponge or cloth in the water, squeeze out any excess water and then wash one limb at a time, making sure to dry gently before moving on to the next one.
  6. Use moistened pieces of cotton wool to carefully clean your baby’s face and genital areas. 
  7. Pat your baby dry and wrap him or her in a soft towel or hooded towel.

Baby’s first bath

After the umbilical cord has fallen off, you can safely start with proper baths. This is also a simple process and has the added benefit of allowing your baby to have some fun with water.

  1. In a warm room, collect your washcloth, baby soap and towel, and place them within reach of the baby tub or small basin.
  2. Fill the tub with about 13cm of water, making sure that the temperature (38 degrees) is even throughout the bathtub. 
  3. Using one hand to support the head and neck, lower your baby into the water.
  4. Gently wash your baby with a mild baby soap, you don’t need to do much scrubbing – in fact, using just your hand will be adequate.
  5. To keep your child from getting cold, pour some of the warm water over him or her from time to time during the bath.
  6. Take your baby out of the water and pat dry before wrapping in a soft towel or hooded towel.

After bath time, moisturise with products specifically made for infant skin that won’t cause any irritation. Clicks offers a number of exclusive ranges, including Calm Nights and Sensitive Baby.