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The Best Time to Give Baby a Bath

There’s nothing nicer than cuddling a freshly bathed baby. Their hair is all fluffy, they smell amazing and you know there’s no dried milk hiding in those adorable rolls. But when is the best time to give baby a bath?

Obviously, there’s no right or wrong answer. As their parent, you can bath your baby whenever you feel like it. However, most of the guides you’ll read will tell you to add a bath into your baby’s routine. Keep reading to determine whether you should bathe your baby in the day or at night.

Table of Contents

Is Day or Night the Best Time to Give Baby a Bath?

You can give your baby a bath whenever you want to but there are pros and cons to bathing them during the day vs at night before you get them ready for bed. Despite this, the main factor for the best time to bath baby is deciding when fits better into your routine, especially if you already have children.

But let’s look at the benefits and the downsides for both daytime baths and night-time baths.

Daytime baths

Many of the baby routine guides you’ll read will probably recommend a night-time bath; I know that I bathed my children at night when I was trying to get them to settle into a regular routine. So why should you consider bathing during the day?

  • Baby is more alert – whether they’ve slept all night or had you up 100 times, there’s no denying that your baby will be more alert. This can help with the bonding between you and your baby, as well as help them develop a love of bathing and the water.
  • Sets you both up for the day – if this is your first baby and you’re struggling with your partner going back to work, the best time to give newborn a bath may be before getting ready for the day. This can help you ease into the transition of parenting alone.
  • Make the most of slow mornings – if you’re planning on going back to work eventually, bathing your baby during the day can help you make the most of the slower pace of life before you have to start on the daily work grind again.

Night-time baths

Night-time baths are definitely the more popular choice amongst parents. But why do so many feel that the best time to bath baby is at night?

  • Relaxation – many guides will tell you to give your baby a bath as a part of their night-time routine to help them relax. This should in theory, make them easier to settle. How true this is remains to be seen but it can’t do any harm.
  • Clean baby, clean pyjamas – this is probably aimed more towards weaning age but if your baby is particularly messy before bed, a bath to clean them before putting them in fresh pyjamas is a good idea.
  • Bonding time with the other parent – if your partner has been working all day, the bedtime routine is probably the only time of the weekday that they’ll get to spend time with their baby. Bathing at night gives them the bonding chance that you have all day.

As listed above, there’s no right or wrong time to bath a baby. It largely depends on your family set up, your home life and what you personally prefer.

best time to bath baby

Fitting Baths into Baby’s Routine

Having a routine for a baby isn’t a necessity but it can help you feel more in control. It’s also beneficial for your baby to recognise certain cues when it comes to bedtime, playtime, and even mealtime. 

If you search hard enough, there’s plenty of evidence that says children who have well established routines thrive in day to day life. Even if you don’t believe that, a routine can help a baby sleep better and be happier in general. Win win right?

So how does a bath fit into this?

A bath is a change from the every day norm. For most of the day, babies and toddlers spend their time clothed and dry. A bath changes that and it’s this shift that becomes the cue. They soon learn that the warm bath signals that it’s time to calm down (if it’s a night-time bath) or that the day is beginning (if it’s a morning bath.)

Does age matter?

It’s better to establish a routine with a newborn baby than a toddler. The best thing you can do as a new parent, whether it’s your first or fourth baby, is to develop a routine when you bring your baby home. Even if it’s just a bath and book for a bedtime routine, a simple one is better than none.

If this is established from a young age, it can be easier to expand this routine as your baby gets older. Remember to be flexible, this will encourage your baby to be the same and they’ll adapt to change easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

best time to give newborn a bath

How often should I give my baby a bath?

Newborns only need to be bathed once or twice a week. As they get older and begin solid food, you can bath them every day if you want to but every other day is also plenty. If you bath them too often, you’ll dry out their skin and this can cause them some irritation and discomfort.

What should I do if my baby doesn’t like taking a bath?

If this is the case, keep trying and be patient. You can get away with a top and tail bath for younger babies but for older ones, choose a bubble bath that foams well (all children love bubbles!) and invest in some interactive toys. Chances are that they’ll become interested in the toys and forget that they hate baths.

How do I bathe a newborn?

Bathing a newborn can be nerve-wracking but there are plenty of guides out there for you to follow. The most important things to remember is to lay everything out before you put them in the water and don’t rush it. 

Read this guide from the NHS and our bath time safety basics and it should make the experience easier for you both.

The Bottom Line

To summarise, there isn’t a right or wrong time to bath your baby. Really, the best time to give baby a bath is whatever works for your family and finding a time that fits into the routine you’re trying to establish. The most important thing is that you and baby are happy.