An everything-you-need-to-know guide to baby bath time

Bath time can be a great way for new parents to bond with their babies. It's one of the earliest, truly interactive activities that a baby can enjoy with both parents. It's understandable that first-time parents might feel a little nervous about taking the plunge and giving their newborn their first bath, but not to worry; it's easy to make baby bath time safe and fun for all involved.

When should you first bathe a newborn?

It's generally recommended that you avoid bathing your baby for the first 24-48 hours after they’re born because babies can lose heat quickly after birth. It's often best to wait to bathe your baby until after the umbilical cord ‘stump’ has dropped off and fully healed - but there's no rush to begin this early, either.

How to safely bathe your baby

Bathing your baby safely is all about making sure you're prepared and able to give your little one your undivided attention. To make things a little easier, we recommend getting everything you need ready in advance; this will usually include: - A baby bath, like this one by Shnuggle - Baby sponges, which should be soft and clean - A warm hooded towel, to wrap around your baby as soon as they're out of the bath - Bath toys, which older babies will enjoy Don't forget the fresh nappy and any creams required for afterwards, too! Bathing your baby doesn't need to be complicated, because babies don't really need a lot of washing. Just use a soft sponge to gently wipe your baby in the water, from head to toe, and do your best to make it an enjoyable, fun and relaxing experience for your baby. Here are some safe bathing for babies tips: - Always use the hot and cold taps at the same time and swish the water around with your hand to ensure there are no hot spots. - Check the water temperature with your elbow - it should feel warm, but not hot. If you'd feel more comfortable using a thermometer, use a baby bath thermometer like this one by Clippasafe. - Never leave the room or turn your back when your baby is in the bath, even for a second.

Can I take a bath with my baby?

You can take a bath with your baby as soon as they’re able to sit up independently, but you'll need to be extra careful, especially about getting in and out of the tub with the baby. Use a slip-proof bath mat to prevent accidents, keep the water shallow and use the same methods as above to make sure the temperature's right, and either place your baby in a seat by the bath or ask your partner to hold her. Getting in and out of the bath with your baby can be a bit of a faff - and it’s much easier to do if you have someone else with you. We recommend first getting in the bath by yourself, and then picking up baby from the seat or from your partner once you're seated in the bath. Remember, babies can lose heat quickly so once in the bath, try to make sure you keep baby warm by covering him/her in water at all times and hold her firmly so she doesn't slip. Get out of the bath the same way you got in, and pass baby to your partner before climbing out yourself.

Can I use soap on my baby?

The simple answer is yes, you can, but it's best not to use standard soaps and washes that are made for adults as these are often too harsh for a baby’s skin. Instead, simply bathe your baby in warm water or opt for a product made especially for babies, such as Earth Friendly Baby's Lavender Shampoo and Bodywash. If your baby has dry skin, then look for some baby washes that are made with emollients to help moisturise your baby's skin too.

How to make bath time fun

Bathing your baby is supposed to be fun for everyone involved. At first, newborns might find baby bath time a little overwhelming, but as long as you stay calm and focus on making it enjoyable, most babies grow to love bath time. There are also a range of products on the market that are designed to make bathtime a more enjoyable experience, such as the swivel bath seat which allows your baby to move freely whilst your hands are busy doing all the scrubbing and other baby needs. It’s also important to talk to your baby, and make lots of eye contact so that they start to associate bath time with lots of one on one contact from mum and dad. As they get older, you could use bubble bath and introduce bath toys such as this Sort 'N' Spray Whale shape sorter.

How to bathe your baby on holiday

Bathing your baby on holiday can be a little tricky because you won't always have everything you need from home with you. In a pinch, it's possible to give your baby a bath in the sink, as long as you're careful to support them properly. You could also hop in the bath with your baby following the tips above. If you'd rather keep the routine as close as possible to your usual routine at home, then an inflatable baby bath like this one by Babymoov is a portable and fun option that baby will love just as much as you. To browse Direct4Baby's tried and tested range of quality baby bath time products, click here.