Bathing a Baby

So as you know my babies aren’t new anymore and bathing them is pretty easy as one can sit and the other is a fully growing boy who likes to shower. But I do remember watching others bath their newborns and they were nervous, anxious and worried because they thought their screaming baby didn’t like to bath.

So today we will talk about how to bathe your newborn and take them from screaming to chill whilst getting them clean!

The Bath

It’s much easier to bath a newborn in a bath that is up high at your waist height. Your back won’t ache, you will feel more in control and if you are calm and relaxed it sends a good vibes to your little one. So if you don’t have a baby bath stand, put your bath on the kitchen bench or dining table and use jugs to fill and empty it, if you don’t have a baby bath, clean your kitchen sink, bathroom sink or laundry tub and use that. It may sound funny to use the sink option but trust me, parents all around the world do and their babies are clean and happy just like yours will be! It’s important to use a small “bath”, as part of the reason babies cry is that they are naked, in a big tub of water and they feel vulnerable. In the womb they were happy floating in water, but it was a small dark space where they felt safe and warm, unlike in a great big bath, in a bright bathroom.

Items you will need to prepare before hand

To make bathing stress free it’s best to have everything organised beforehand so it is easy to bathe your baby and not be stuck bath side wishing you could reach whatever you forgot. Here is a list of things I use when bathing a newborn that I prepare prior to getting bub naked.

  • Two towels, one to wrap your dirty baby in, one to dry your clean baby with.
  • Cotton balls for washing bubs face, alternatively you could use a clean washer and wash each side of the face with a different corner of the washer. (We will talk more about this below)
  • Two washers, one to cover bub like a blanket, one to wash with.
  • Baby wash
  • Clean clothes and a nappy

Lets get clean!

So now you are ready with all your items and your bath, here are the simple steps!

Sven is my “baby hold” model. The best way to hold bub is to rest their head where your wrist is so your hand can hold them firmly around the arm as you see pictured here. Baby’s get slippery in the tub and this will help you feel like you wont drop your bub.


Lay your towels out, one on top of the other. This is where you will undress and then dry and redress your baby. If your change table is near your bath, place your towels here. If you are using the kitchen bench, have something under the towels that you can lay baby on as when you dress bub you don’t want them lying on a wet towel or cold hard bench. Have your clean clothes and nappy in arms reach here too as you are going to want to dress your little one quickly.

Next to the bath place your washers, cotton balls and baby wash. Run the bath and add a small amount of baby wash. Don’t waste your money on gadgets that tell you how hot the water is, run the bath how you would like it. My mum would tell you put your elbow in it to check the temp is ok, but I think most people know if water is too hot or too cold so trust your judgement.

Its time to bath! Now you are going to undress your baby and wrap them in the top towel, leaving their head and neck unwrapped so the towel is inline with their shoulders. Tuck your little one’s bottom under your arm between your elbow and hip, holding their neck and top of shoulders in your hand so their head is supported but free of your grip.

Holding their head over the water use the cotton balls or washer, to wash half of their face, wiping from the inside corner of their eye out, repeating on the other side with a clean cotton ball or the opposite side of the washer. Also wash their head, under their chin and behind the ears, before drying their face and head with the second clean washer that you prepared earlier. You might be asking why you are washing each half of their face separately? Well, babies often get what I will call ‘gunky’ eye and by washing each half seperatly you are minimising the chance of cross contamination. Now your baby is ready to get into the bath!

This is the part where if your baby hasnt cried already, then they probably will start. Dont let this upset or fluster you, most new babies cry and it is part of the process.

Remove the towel they are wrapped in and slowly lower them into the water, placing them in the hold ‘Sven’ is modelling for you above. Take the washers and wet them covering their body completely so their arms and legs are covered. Make ‘shh’ sounds or sing a quiet song whilst you use your free hand to scoop and gently pour water over them, keeping them warm. They should be calming down, looking at you talking and starting to relax.

Once they are calm, you can start giving them a wash with small amounts of baby wash and one of the washers. Make sure to clean under their neck if you didn’t already, under their arms and in their nappy area. If they aren’t calm, just wash them as quick as you can and remind yourself that they aren’t hurt or sick, crying is a normal thing that babies do and being clean in not negotiable. (Tough mum moment)

Now your little one is clean it is time to get them out. They are probably going to cry again, but luckily you have already prepared their clean clothes so drying and dressing will be fast. When you dry bub some people like to add powder, or creams and this is a personal choice, if you feel your little one has dry skin or scalp have a chat to your pharmacist or GP and they will help you decide what will work best. I personally love Moo Goo and have heard many positive reviews from others about their range.

If bubby is still upset once they are dressed,  a nice hug or settled with a dummy or feed will ensure the crying will quickly stop.

Bathing Aids


Bath sling – You can see in the pictures where I am bathing Sterling as a newborn he is in a bath sling. I like using the bath sling as once they are at the stage that they love lying in the bath I can have two hands free to wash him. I always stay next to the bath as bath aids can not be trusted to stop your little one from drowning.

Bath seat – Once your baby can sit up you can start using a bath seat. It helps them feel stable in the bath and as my boys sometimes bath together and it stops Roland from bumping Sterling over accidentally.

Bath mat – I put a non slip mat in the bottom of the bath so that Sterling doesn’t slip over when sitting up by himself without his bath seat. I also have one on the shower floor for Roland as it makes it safer when the tiles get slippery from soap or just because 3 year olds don’t generally just stand nicely in the shower.

I’m a big boy now! Sterling graduated to the big boy tub before he could sit up so I used to put a small amount of water in for him to lie in and splash around.

Hopefully today you have found some useful information about how to bathe your new baby and you will find it less stressful. Just like all other parts of baby care, it gets easier as they get older and bathing a newborn wont last long.

If you would like to buy a bath sling or mat we stock them in our DP KIds Shop!


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