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10 tips for a calm bathtime

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How do I bath my baby?

Baby's first bath can be a scary business for new parents. Here's how to make sure it's a relaxed and soothing experience… for everyone!

1. At first, you'll only need to bath your baby a few times a week, "topping and tailing" her (clean his face, tummy and bottom area) on non-bath days.

2. As soon as you think your baby is ready for a daily bath, make it predictable and comforting by following a regular routine. Have everything you need to hand before you start, and make sure the bathroom is warm.

3. Once you're ready, run the bath. You can use a baby bath but some parents prefer to bath their baby in the basin – it's a good height for you and the perfect size for baby.

4. The best way to avoid scalding your baby is to run some cold water first, then top up with warm water to a safe temperature (check it with your elbow or with a bath thermometer – it should be warm, not hot, between 36-38°C). Keep the water shallow – around 5-8cm is deep enough – and mix it to prevent hot or cold spots.

5. Place the change mat on the bathroom floor, covered in a towel, and undress your baby down to him nappy, then wrap him in the towel.

6. Keeping your tot wrapped in his towel on your knee, use separate pieces of cotton wool soaked in a little cool, boiled water and baby wash to clean his face, ears, around each eye and neck, paying attention to all the little creases under his chin and folds in his neck.

7. Next unwrap your baby's towel, remove his nappy, and carefully lower him into the water. Hold him firmly around his upper back, grasping his opposite upper arm so he rests securely along your forearm, or use a baby bath support. Never leave him unsupervised in the bath, even for a second.

8. Wash him with a mild, pH neutral body wash. For gentle hair cleansing, use a 'no tears' formula. Apply with your free hand, then rinse well. You can use mild baby body wash on his bottom area, or add a small drop of almond oil to the bath – this is a gentle way to keep newborn skin soft.

9. After a few minutes' play, lift him out of the bath with care, and wrap him in a cuddle robe or towel. Once he's dry, apply baby lotion before dressing him ready for bed.

10. If your baby always cries at bathtime, cut the number of baths to two or three a week, and just clean his face and bottom area on the change mat in between, using cotton wool and cool, boiled water.

What you'll need for baby bathtime

  • Non-slip bath mat and/or bath support, if using the large bath
  • Bath thermometer
  • Clean, dry towel or two (kept for baby's use only)
  • Gentle baby wash
  • Cotton wool and cotton buds (never insert into ear canal)
  • Changing mat, plus fresh nappy, nappy cream and clothes