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Baby Clinic

Baby Care

Bath time tips

For the first couple of weeks of your baby’s life, topping and tailing is probably all you will need to do to keep your baby clean.

Beyond this even bathtime is as much about a gentle relaxing fun session rather than a major clean up. Whether topping and tailing or bathing your baby, make sure the room is warm enough for your undressed child.

Topping and tailing

Get a bowl of lukewarm water and have to hand a supply of cotton wool balls and a soft towel. Take one wet cotton wool ball and clean your baby’s face, very gently wiping each eye with one smooth, light action from the corner by the nose out to the side. Use a separate piece of cotton wool for each eye. Then use a new piece to wipe around the face and one for the neck, lightly cleaning the outer part of each ear with only a damp not wet piece of cotton wool. Make sure you clean behind the ears as this area can get quite mucky. Use a new piece to clean hands and feet.

Delicately clean around the cord stump again using one or two damp pieces of cotton wool. Gently wipe around your baby’s bottom with another piece of cotton wool, making sure you get into the little creases of skin around the groin. If there is lots of mess, use more than one piece of cotton wool rather than dipping the same ball back into the water. Make sure you keep all the used pieces of cotton wool out of the reach of your baby, and discard them safely afterwards.

Pat your baby dry with a muslin cloth or a small soft towel. If your baby seems warm and happy, this is a nice opportunity to let your child lay down without a nappy for a little while, with her bottom open to their air. Sing to her or playfully tickle her to finish off a relaxing cleaning session.


When your baby is tiny you might be able to bath her in a sink, but if you do, be careful to avoid letting her body touch the taps.
If you are using a baby bath or your main bath, try the following:

  • Fill the tub with enough water for a shallow baby bath. Do not put your baby into the bath until the water has stopped running and check with your wrist that the water is only warm, not too hot or cold. (Use your wrist because your hands are likely to be less sensitive to changes of temperature.)
  • If you do put your baby in the main bath, bring her down to the end with the taps so that she doesn’t feel overwhelmed by a huge expanse of white enamel and water.
  • Until your baby is older (probably six months at least) you will not need to use any soap, bubble bath or even shampoo.
  • Lower your baby into the water, keeping a reassuring arm and hand under your baby’s back, neck and head.
  • Gently swish the water over your baby. If she enjoys it, let her move her hands around in the water. You should make reassuring noises or talk, emphasising in your tone that this is a fun and relaxing time.
  • You do not need to wash your baby’s hair with shampoo, but you can run some water over her head making sure it runs away off the back of her head rather than running into her face.
  • Gently lift her out and place her on a towel. Dry her thoroughly but without rubbing her skin too hard and gently pad her head and face dry.

As with topping and tailing, use this time for some relaxing play before getting her dressed, unless she is cold or uncomfortable.

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