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Baby smiling at parent whilst having a bath

How to bathe a newborn (your questions answered)

Bathing little ones is seen as a magical bonding moment for parents, but it’s common to feel apprehensive or unsure about how it’s done exactly. Most new parents aren’t sure about things like water temperature or which products to use. Here, we’re answering your most asked questions, to ensure bath time is a happy, relaxed experience for everybody.

“I’ve only top and tailed my newborn so far, when should I start bathing them?” Lara, 26.

Topping and tailing (washing your baby’s face, neck, hands and bottom in that order with warm water) is a great way to clean very small babies since you can be extra gentle and still enjoy skin-to-skin bonding time. Most new parents find it convenient to top and tail for the first week before bathing babies in a ‘real’ bath (a sink or shallow baby bath) a few days after the umbilical cord has dropped off, which can be up to a week or two after your baby is born and after the area has healed. Bathing your baby in water for the very first time might feel new and overwhelming – if you’re worried, ask a loved one to be nearby to join in the special moment too.

“My friend bathes her baby every night and I’m worried I’m not bathing mine enough. How often is enough?” Michelle, 40.

Ultimately, how often you bathe your baby is up to you. According to the American Academy of Dermatology [AAD], babies and toddlers only need to be bathed two to three times a week since they don’t get especially dirty. If this suits you and your baby, that’s great. Try not to compare yourself or your baby to others since every baby is different. However regularly you’re bathing your baby or toddler, ensure the diaper area is always clean – babies’ skin can become sore or red if not changed regularly (which is when the dreaded diaper rash makes an appearance).

“Is it OK to use products like soap or shampoo on my toddler?” Meredith, 28.

Yes, it’s perfectly fine to use gentle baby products like our cleansers and shampoo on your baby, since they’re formulated especially for babies’ delicate skin. Our soothing Dove Derma Care Soothing Wash, for example, has been created especially for babies with eczema-prone skin and our gentle Dove Rich Moisture Hypoallergenic Wash has skin-natural nutrients and helps young, delicate skin retain its natural moisture. Because the scalp is one of a baby’s most sensitive areas, always check the shampoo you’re using is specially-formulated for baby use. Our mild shampoos are dermatologist-tested and as gentle as water, cleansing without irritation or dryness.

“I’ve heard babies lose their heat quickly when bathing, what can I do to prevent this?” Janet, 31.

It’s true babies lose heat faster than adults (around four times as quickly, in fact) so it’s important to keep little ones warm when washing them. First, ensure any open doors or windows are closed to prevent drafts. Check the temperature of the bath water is between 90 and 100 degrees. Always feel it with your hand – the water should feel comfortably warm. Before gently placing your baby in the bath, check you have a warm towel to hand to wrap them up immediately afterwards, and a washcloth can be helpful, too. Use the washcloth to cover any parts of your baby that are exposed to the air – it helps keep them warm. Keeping baths short and sweet – no more than 10 minutes at most – means the water won’t have time to cool, either.


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