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07Oct 13

Top and tail: Bathing your newborn

A new baby can be overwhelming for first-time parents. Between feeding, soothing and spending time with your newborn, there is a lot to do! But for the first month or so until a baby’s umbilical cord drops off, new parents don’t have to worry about giving baby a bath.

However, just because your newborn isn’t ready for a sink or a bath tub doesn’t mean that he or she shouldn’t be washed. Instead, you can keep your baby squeaky clean using the “top and tail” method.

Top and tail: Bathing your newborn

Top and tail: Bathing your newborn

Topping your baby

Topping and tailing a baby means washing him or her from head to toe using cotton wool and warm water. Although there is nothing wrong with giving a newborn a proper bath, the top and tail method is an easier or less frightening alternative for some babies during their first few weeks of life.

In order to top and tail your baby, lay a towel on a flat clean surface, keeping all your materials close at hand. Undress your baby and place him or her on the towel. To wash your baby’s face, hands and neck, or the “topping” bit of the job, dip a clean piece of cotton wool in the warm water and wring it out. Gently wipe each of your baby’s eyes, starting from the inner corners, and then move on to his or her face.

Next, clean your baby’s ears, but avoid cleaning inside them. Then, wipe your baby’s neck and hands.

Tailing your baby

Now comes the “tailing” part, which means thoroughly cleaning your baby’s genital area and bottom. This very delicate area can be washed with just warm water for the first couple of weeks, then later on with a gentle baby cleanser or mild soap.

Ensure that you have cleaned within any skin creases, and remember that baby girls should always be wiped from front to back to avoid urinary tract infections. Also, don’t force back a baby boy’s foreskin to clean as it could tear. Always remember to always use fresh cotton wool each time you dip to avoid cross-infection.

When drying your baby off, use a soft towel and pay special attention to skin creases to avoid chaffing. If his or her skin is dry, you may want to gently apply a mild moisturising lotion or oil. Your little one is now ready for a clean nappy and clothes!

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