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Is it safe to bathe a newborn baby? How should I do this?

Newborn babies are very vulnerable at bath time, as they cannot lift their heads out of water and can also get cold very quickly. About 10 minutes is usually enough time for a newborn baby bath. Bath time should be fun and relaxing for you both - and a great time for bonding - so following some simple rules will ensure you both enjoy the experience: 1) Have everything ready, including their change of clothes, warmed bath towel, nappies and any creams or ointments. Keeping baby warm is very important as they can get a chill after a bath if exposed to cold air when wet. 2) Always support your baby's head and neck gently, be careful getting them into the water feet first. 3) Use a gentle, calm voice when talking to your baby in the bath, especially if they appear tense or scared. 4) Never leave your baby alone in the bath - do not answer the phone or doorbell, and take your baby with you always. 5) It is not necessary to bathe your baby every night - in fact, this can dry their skin out. 6) Always run the cold tap first then top up with hot water, to reach a comfortable 36ºC, then test the water with your elbow before putting your baby in. Just put in enough to cover your baby's shoulders in a reclining position. 7) You may want to wash your baby's hair before or after the bath, as shampoo can cause tears. Wrap them tightly in a towel, keeping arms at their side and carefully supporting their head and neck, hold them over the bath and wash with a sponge or flannel keeping the water out of their eyes. Dry hair gently in patting movements. 8) Never leave your baby lying on his/her back in water - gently hold the head above the water while you wash him/her with a soft sponge or flannel. When they are very small, a folded-up towel on the bottom of their bath will help to stop them slipping around.

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About this article

Author: Karen McCloskey BHSc
First answered: 22 Nov 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Votes: 986 (Click smiley face below left to rate)
Category: Newborn baby care and safety


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