You don't need much equipment to safely and comfortably bathe your baby. Here is a list of essentials and accessories you need to have within reach before baby's first bath.
Cotton wool has a multitude of uses for all the family and it's always good to have some in the cupboard. It can be easier to use dampened pieces of cotton wool to wipe your newborn's face before he gets in the bath, rather than when he is already in it.
Also, use baby wipes or cotton wool and warm water to clean his bottom area beforehand if he has soiled his nappy. You may find large size cotton wool pads are easier to use than cotton wool balls – you need less of them and they don't leave loose fibres behind on the skin.
You don't have to use a specially designed infant bath, but you may find it easier on your back. Otherwise you will have to lean over the main bath while supporting baby with your arm at the same time. Options include standard plastic tubs, flexible bath supports, and swivel seats for older babies who can sit up by themselves.
The kitchen sink or a washing up bowl lined with a towel will suffice for newborns, or you could invest in a baby changing station with bath included. You may find a top and tail bowl useful for quick daily washes.
Bath water needs to be comfortably warm, around 37 degrees C, and not too hot or too cold. Test the water temperature with your elbow or the inside of your wrist, but if you are not confident about doing this, you can use a thermometer for peace of mind.
Get a pack of soft cotton flannels or a couple of soft foam sponges to wash baby's body and scalp. Alternatively you can just use your hand to gently splash and rub water over him, which may be easier when he is very tiny.
It is fine to use plain warm water to wash newborns – they don't need anything else. When you decide to introduce soap and shampoo, make sure they are mild and gentle, and specially formulated for babies. Don't be tempted to use your own regular toiletries, because they may dry out and irritate delicate skin.
Newborns have little use for toys at bathtime, but after a few months you can introduce toys to make the experience more fun. Along with traditional rubber ducks and floating plastic boats, you can get stacking cups for scooping and pouring water, toys that blow bubbles and squirt water, and wind-up swimming animals.
You will need somewhere to store the many toys you will inevitably accumulate, and a wall-mountable holder keeps them tidy.
You will need a nice soft towel to wrap baby in after his bath, and a hooded towel will keep him warm and cosy from head to toe while you dry him. Consider buying a pack of three towels so that you can have one in use, one in the wash, and a spare one in the cupboard.
You can dry baby on your lap after his bath, but it may be easier if you lay him down on a comfy padded changing mat.
You don't have to use any special creams or oils on your baby after you have dried him, but if his skin appears dry and flaky, you can moisturise him with a gentle and mild lotion made for infants. You can also add a suitable emollient to the water to help soften and protect dry skin. Look for an emollient that doubles up as bubble bath, because most children love to play with bubbles!
If your baby has nappy rash, you can apply a thin layer of nappy care ointment to treat it before you put on his nappy. You can also use it as a preventative measure.
If your baby has hair, you'll need a soft comb or brush. This is also a good time to trim fingernails and toenails, when they are softer (fingernails will need cutting more often, perhaps twice a week). This is a tricky job, so use miniature nail clippers, small scissors and a nail file to do this.