How to do a Top & Tail Wash
When you become a parent for the first time, it's so easy to get sucked into various parenting manuals, websites and forums. Suddenly everyone has an opinion on what is best for you and your baby, and everyone is an expert on the most niche of topics too. Baby bathtime is no exception. When to give baby their first bath? How often to bathe baby? Which bubble bath? Sponge or flannel? So many questions!
And while we like to think of ourselves as baby bathtime experts, we know enough by now to tell you this. YOU know your baby best. We'll do all that we can to help and guide you, but the ultimate decision is yours and yours alone. That said, as we've written previously about baby's first bath and how to use your Cuddledry handsfree towel for a more relaxing and stressfree bathtime, we thought we'd share some tips on how to do a top & tail wash. This advice is yours to use as you wish; if you have any concerns please do speak to your health visitor or GP.
Why do a top & tail wash?
As a general rule, small babies don't really need a bath every night, and often parents are advised to wait a couple of weeks after birth before introducing babies to their first bath. It's up to you. If you do decide to limit bathtime in the early weeks, then a top & tail wash is a great way to keep baby clean and fresh.
That said, lots of families find that bathtime is part of their bedtime routine- especially if there are older children who have grown used to having a bath at the end of the day.
There's no rule stating babies cannot have a bath every day, so go with your instincts and do what works for you.
How to do a top & tail wash
Top & tail washes are recommended either in between bathing, in place of bathing when baby is very young, or at the start of bathtime (see this post for more information). Here are our top tips for ensuring it goes as smoothly as possible
- Make sure you and baby are relaxed. It makes no sense to start the whole process when either of you are stressed or upset. A top & tail wash can be a lovely bonding experience if you time it right.
- Wait at least an hour after feeding. Allow full tummies to settle before you move them around.
- Get everything ready before you start. We recommend a bowl of warm water and bamboo washcloths, a thermometer, a soft towel to lay baby on, a Cuddledry handsfree towel, items for a nappy change, items for a feed and a soft cushion or thick towel to kneel on. Make sure it's all to hand before you start.
- Check the temperature of the room- it needs to be warm enough otherwise your baby will get very cold very quickly!
When you're ready, lay baby on the soft towel on a safe surface and attach your Cuddledry handsfree towel around your neck. Use the poppers to secure it in place and you're good to go. Talk to your baby, maintaining eye contact and reassuring as you go.
Start with your baby's face. Use a silky soft bamboo washcloth to gently clean the face, taking care to wipe from the nose outwards. Gently clean around your baby's ears , avoiding the inside. You might want to also gently wipe your baby's head and don't forget to clean under the chin too.
Next, strip baby down to just the nappy, and start to gently wash under the arms, chest and tummy. Keep talking to reassure!
Finally, remove baby's nappy and clean the area gently with the bamboo washcloth. Take care to clean around the umbilical stump (don't be afraid to gently wipe the area) and allow to air dry.
After the top & tail wash
Chances are, the whole top & tail wash will only take 5-10 minutes and if your baby protests it could be even quicker! When you're ready, gently lfit your baby into your arms and cuddle them into the handsfree towel. Use the one handed popper release to remove the apron style neck piece, then bring the bottom corner of the towel up so that the hood hooks over baby's head. lastly, wrap your baby in the towel and gently cuddle them dry.
When you're ready to dress your baby, lay them down on a safe surface to do so. When you put your baby's nappy on, fold it down a little at the front to allow the air to dry the umbilical stump area well before dressing.