Giving your baby their first bath

Most babies are not routinely cleaned straight after birth as immediate contact and skin to skin is advised. When your baby is born, they may be wet from the amniotic fluid or may have a little blood in their hair from the birth but for the most part, babies are usually born clean! You may notice that your baby is born with a white waxy substance on their skin, this is called vernix.

Vernix, is a wonderful source of moisture for your baby’s delicate skin. And if you don’t wipe it off, it is reabsorbed. So your baby will be less likely to develop dry skin patches. Pre-term babies have much more of this protective layer than full-term babies.


Whilst in the uterus, your baby is submerged in amniotic fluid, so vernix is absolutely necessary for providing waterproof protection. After birth, however, mother nature may need a helping hand. Returning home can be daunting for new parents. Giving a baby their first bath can be terrifying for first time parents!


Your baby does not need a special bath although many parents are well tooled up for the new arrival. A clean sink or the big bath will suffice!


A big concern for parents is getting the water temperature correct. After ensuring you have all baby’s bits and bobs at hand, such as a changing mat, towel, fresh nappy, vest/bodysuit and clean clothes, place the baby in a safe place.

Step by step  baby bathing guide


  • Run cold water into the bath first.
  • Top it up with hot water. Swirl the water around to avoid hot spots.
  • Dip your elbow into the water to check the temperature. It should be lukewarm. As the skin on your elbow is very sensitive it is a reliable way to test the water.
  • If you like you can add a little moisturising, hypoallergenic, baby bubble bath. Swirl it around with your fingers. Young babies do not need bubbles to play with! It is best to avoid skin products as much as possible with newborns as their skin can be quite sensitive.
  • Undress and wrap baby in a warm towel. Holding him over the bath, cup some bath water in your free hand and gently run it over his head. Shampoo is not necessary for very tiny babies as it can irritate their scalp.
  • Dry the baby’s head thoroughly. Babies lose a lot of heat through their heads. Wet heads lose more heat.
  • Placing baby’s neck in the crook of your elbow, and your hand holding the back of one of his legs, gently lower him into the water. (TIP If you are right-handed it is easier to place babies neck in the crook of your left elbow. Holding his left leg with your left hand, wash him with your right hand. The reverse is the case if you are left-handed.)
  • Some babies hate being bathed but many really enjoy it. He may become so relaxed that he falls asleep!
  • Cupping some water in your free hand gently trickle it over his body. Your do not need to rub or scrub as babies do not get dirty. They just need to be freshened up!
  • Be careful as he will get very slippery once he is wet!
  • Only keep baby in the bath for a short time as he will get cold quickly and never leave your baby unattended in the bath for even the shortest space of time.
  • Lift him out and wrap him up in his warm towel.
  • Quickly dry him and place a fresh nappy on him before he has any little accidents!


Finally, give him a big cuddle and dress him quickly…


And there you have it – baby’s first bath!