Top and Tail: How to Bathe a Newborn

Post-delivery, there’s nothing most mums desire more than to jump straight into the shower – or soak off in the tub. But for newborns, bathing in the first week or so is entirely unnecessary, and quite often a shock to the senses.

Top and Tail: How to Bathe a Newborn

If you want to get your bundle clean within the first few days, opt for the tried-and-tested top and tail; for baby, it’s a gentle introduction to what will eventually become bathtime, and a good way for you to get to grips – literally – with the logistics of handling a slippery, writhing little one. explains step-by-step how to top and tail your newborn:

1. First, make sure the room is warm, and have all your supplies, clean nappy and clothes close by. Fill a bowl or sink with warm water. Undress your baby and place her on a clean towel so you’re ready to dry her quickly afterwards.

2. Topping:

Begin by gently sweeping clean cotton wool, dipped in water then lightly squeezed, across your baby’s eye, starting from the corner near her nose. Use a new piece of cotton wool for each wipe so that you don’t spread any goo from one eye to the other.

Using fresh, damp cotton wool, wipe your baby’s ears, and then wipe carefully behind her ears as these areas can become crusty with milk residue, and sweaty, too. (But don’t clean inside the ears, as you could damage the eardrum.)

Use fresh pieces of cotton wool to wipe your baby’s face, neck creases, and hands. If your newborn’s skin still has a coating of white, creamy vernix, leave it be. Vernix is your baby’s own antibacterial cleanser and moisturiser. It will wear off naturally quite soon.

3. Tailing:

Because baby poo has a high fat content, you’ll need to use either cleansers or wipes (specifically formulated for babies) to effectively clean the genitals and bottom. Test any cleanser on a small area of your little one’s skin first, to check that it’s sensitive enough. Avoid baby products made with soap, or baby wipes that contain alcohol or perfume, as these can disturb the natural balance of baby’s skin.

4. When you’ve washed your baby, gently pat her dry, paying particular attention to creases. You may want to smooth on a mild moisturising lotion, oil (avoid mineral-based), or emollient if her skin is dry. Wrap your baby in a towel, and give her a cuddle to keep her warm.

Once you’ve graduated to actual bath-time – but your precious is still a newborn – you’ll probably bathe her during the day, or whenever is convenient. You’ll only need to establish a bedtime routine after a couple months, once babs’ circadian rhythms level out — and bathing is the perfect way to help her relax and wind down for nighty-night.