How to bathe your baby

Bathing your baby

  1. Get the room ready before you start. Make sure it is warm as babies can get cold quickly.
  2. Gather everything you need before you start the bath like towels, cotton wool, clean nappy and clothes.
  3. Fill the basin, bath, baby bath or sink until it has 8cm to 10cm or so of water in it.
  4. Make sure the bath water is the right temperature – about 36 degrees Celsius.
  5. Undress your baby and remove their nappy.
  6. Wash your baby's face and bottom before you put them in the bath.
  7. Hold your baby's head over the basin and wash their hair.
  8. Lower your baby slowly into the water so they don't feel as though they are falling.
  9. Lift your baby into the water with one of your arms behind their shoulders and neck, holding their outside arm with your hand.
  10. Place your other hand under their bottom.
  11. When their bottom is resting on the floor of the basin or bath, you can remove that hand to wash them.
  12. After the bath, slip your free arm back under their bottom.
  13. Hold their legs with that arm as they will be slippery. Then lift them out onto the towel.
  14. Empty the basin, bath, baby bath or sink.
woman bathing baby
How to hold your baby when them putting into a bath

Bath safety

Babies under 12 months are at greatest risk of drowning in the bath. Drowning can happen in silence, in an instant and in a very small amount of water.

Children who survive near-drowning often have long-term health effects from brain injury.


Never leave your baby alone in the bath, not even for a second

If you need to leave, bring your baby with you.

Never ask or have an older child supervise your baby at bath time. Adult supervision is necessary for your baby at all times.

Always empty bathwater immediately after use.

Do not use bath seats

Avoid using bath seats. They are not safety equipment.

Parents or carers may mistake baby bath seats as child safety equipment. This can give a false sense of security that it is safe to leave a baby unattended for a few minutes.

Bonding with your baby during bath time

Bath time can be a special bonding time with your baby by massaging and playing with them. It will help your baby to relax if you keep talking while you wash them.

After the bath

Dry them and pay particular attention to skin folds.

This is a good time to massage some oil or cream into your baby's skin. Do not use aqueous cream as it may cause damage to the skin barrier.

Do not use any oils on your baby's skin if they are under 1 month old. Don't use anything that contains peanut oil, as some babies are allergic to it.

Cleaning the rest of their body

Use fresh pieces of cotton wool to clean around your baby's ears but not inside them.


Never use cotton buds inside your baby's ear canal

Dip the cotton wool in the water. Make sure it doesn't get too wet. Wipe gently around your baby's eyes from the nose outward in.

Use a fresh piece of cotton wool for each eye, so you don't transfer any stickiness or infection.

Wash the rest of your baby's face, neck and hands in the same way and dry them gently with the towel.

Page last reviewed: 26 March 2018
Next review due: 26 March 2021