Topping and Tailing your Baby

There is no need to give your baby a bath everyday although it is necessary that you ensure your baby is clean every day and you can do this by ‘topping and tailing’ your baby. You may also want to use this method of cleaning during your new-born baby’s first few days.

Topping and tailing allows you to clean the areas of your baby that can get dirty without the need to fully undress, disturb or upset your baby.

It is best to choose a time where your baby is happy and awake. You should make sure that the room is warm and comfortable for your baby and that you have no distractions such as your mobile phone ringing or the television on. You should make sure that you have everything you need to hand, this should include:

  • A clean nappy
  • Clean clothes
  • A towel
  • Cotton wool
  • A baby soft sponge if wanted
  • A bowl of warm water – If your baby is under 8 weeks old, you should use cooled, boiled water.

Step 1:  Dip the cotton wool into the water (do not soak) and wipe your baby’s eye starting from the nose and wiping outwards. Only use the cotton wool for one wipe and then get a new piece and repeat. Then get a new piece again and wipe the other eye from the nose outwards. It is important to use a new piece of cotton wool for each wipe as your baby’s eyes may be sticky and you do not want to spread this stickiness or increase the chance of any infection around the eyes.

Step 2: Using another piece of damp cotton wool, clean around the outside of your baby’s ears. You do not need to clean inside them and you must never insert anything into your baby’s ear.

Step 3: With another piece of cotton wool, clean the rest of the face and also your baby’s neck. Take care to clean inside any creases in your baby’s neck as your baby can sweat here.

Step 4: Make sure your baby’s face is dry by gently patting with the towel.

Step 5: Clean your baby’s hands and wrists using the same technique and pat dry with a towel.

Step 6: Now remove your baby’s nappy and clean your baby’s bottom. Use a new piece of cotton wool to clean the genital area and making sure that you clean between the skin olds and creases. It is important that you dry this area well. If you wish you can reapply any nappy care cream that you are using and then put your baby’s nappy back on.

Cleaning your baby is a good time to bond with your baby. You may find that your baby enjoys the procedure of topping and tailing and you can have fun giggling and playing as you do it. However, you may find that your baby needs constant talking to in order for them to remain calm. If you talk through the washing procedure, your baby will soon learn to understand what you are saying and this can help their speech and language development. You can also use this time sing nursery rhymes to your baby to help calm too.

by Jenny, mum to William and James

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