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Water babies... How to bath your baby

Bathing your newborn baby can feel terrifying for a first-time mum.

What if the baby slips; what if she gets cold? And then there's the technical details: should you wash your infant every day? Which products are safe to use?

According to Eumom.ie, Ireland's largest pregnancy and parenting company ( www.eumom.ie), you only need to bathe your baby every couple of days – otherwise the technique known as 'topping and tailing' will suffice. This means a daily clean of the face, hands, neck and bottom, as well as regular spot cleaning of the face and bottom at feeding and changing time.

Eumom.ie medical practitioners offer the following advice when it comes to giving your baby a full bath:

Full bath

Safety issues before you start: If you're giving your baby a full bath, don't let go of her in the water as she could easily slip under it. Never leave your baby alone in the bath or turn your attention away from her for even a second. This rule holds until your baby is three or four years of age.

Gather together all the things you need around you so that everything is in easy reach. You may want to take the phone off the hook while you are bathing your baby, especially in the early days. Some people find it useful to have another person present, ideally your partner, who will be able to share in the enjoyment and help you, if necessary.

You will need:

Cotton wool

Flannel or sponge B aby bath liquid or soap (soap can make the baby slippery, so you might not want to use it until you get used to the procedure. You might also find baby bath liquid easier to use as you don't have to soap your baby.)

Baby shampoo

Clean nappy and all your usual nappy-changing equipment


Clean clothes


Newborn babies get cold quickly, so choose a warm room. It doesn't matter which room, but remember that there will be water splashing about.

Put the baby bath on a firm, flat surface at a comfortable height so that you don't have to bend too much. If you don't have a baby bath, use a clean washing-up bowl or the kitchen or bathroom sink (but wrap up the taps with a towel so that the baby can't kick them and hurt herself ).

Test the temperature of the water with your elbow, which is more sensitive to heat than your hand.

If you want to avoid getting too wet, use a waterproof apron. Another good tip is to tie a towel around your waist or place one across your lap so that you can dry your baby on your lap without reaching for a towel. Your baby will love a warm towel with a hood.

Put a few centimetres of water in the bath and always put the cold water in first to avoid scalds. Never add hot water while the baby is in the bath. Dip your elbow in the water to test the temperature. It shouldn't feel hot or cold.

Undress baby down to vest and nappy. If she needs a change, take off the old nappy and clean her up first with baby lotion. This will stop the bath water getting dirty and full of germs.

Then, undress your baby completely and wrap her in a towel so that she feels snug and secure. While your baby's in the towel, clean the face and eyes gently with cotton wool moistened in warm water.

Hold your baby tucked under your arm so that she lies along the length of your forearm with the back of her head cradled in the palm of your hand. Hold the head over the bath and wash it with bath water. Dry your baby gently with a soft towel, so she doesn't get cold while you are bathing her.

Then take off the towel and slip your baby into the water. Support the head, neck and shoulders all the time while in the bath and use your free hand to wash her.

Don't forget to talk to your baby all the time.

Finally, put your baby on to a warm, soft towel to dry her on your lap. Don't forget to dry all the skin creases thoroughly but gently.

Now all your baby needs is a clean nappy and fresh clothes.

Mother & Babies