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Dad bathing baby

Learn how to give your baby a bath in our easy guide to baby bath time. We look at what to expect at bath time and how to help your baby enjoy it.

Giving your baby a bath can be fun and a great bonding experience. But it can also make you feel nervous, especially if you’re bathing your baby for the first time. These tips should give you confidence and help wash away your fears.

1. Get the room warm before you start as your baby can get cold quickly.

2. Be prepared before you start the bath by getting everything ready. You’ll want things like towels, cotton wool, a bowl of warm water, a clean nappy and clothes.

3. Fill the bath with 8 cm to 10 cm of warm water. It’s safest to put cold water in first, or have both hot and cold taps running at the same time. You can wash your baby in a sink or baby bath.

4. Make sure the bath water is at body temperature. It shouldn’t feel too hot or too cold. You can check this by putting your elbow in the water.

5. Undress your baby except for their nappy. Some babies dislike being unwrapped, as they can feel unsupported and unsafe. You could keep your baby wrapped up in a towel until the last minute, if that helps soothe them.

6. Lower your little one slowly into the water so they don’t feel as though they’re falling. It might help to hold their arms by their sides while you lower them.

7. Lift your baby into the water with one arm behind their shoulders and neck, holding their outside arm with your hand. This helps keep their head supported. Place your other hand under their bottom. Once their bottom is resting on the floor of the bath, you can free that hand to wash them.

8. You can gently splash the warm water over your little one to wash them and their hair if you want. Keep your baby’s head clear of the water. Use the other hand to swish the water over them without splashing.

9. When you finish washing your little one, get a firm grip on them as they will be slippery. You can slip your free arm back under their bottom and hold their legs, then lift them out onto the towel.

10. Dry your baby carefully, paying particular attention to any skin folds.

If you want to massage your baby, after a bath can be good time. Massage can help your baby relax and sleep. Avoid using lotions or oils until they are at least one month old.

You may find it helpful to do an NCT baby massage class with other parents with babies of a similar age to yours.

This page was last reviewed in October 2017.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

You might find attending one of our NCT New Baby courses helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.

NHS Choices Birth to Five section.

Public Health England (PHE) provides guidelines about bathing children under two safely.

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