Topping and tailing

Daily cleaning for your new baby


On days when you don’t bath your baby you’ll need to wash his face, bottom, hands and folds of his skin once a day. An ideal time to do this is during changing.

  • Make sure the room is warmed to a suitable temperature for your naked baby, around 29 degrees is good
  • Have a bowl of boiled and lukewarm, not hot, water on hand and a supply of cotton wool
  • Clean your baby’s bottom as usual and take a ball of cotton wool dipped in the water and gently wipe around the genitals (changing the cotton wool often), particularly in the folds and creases of the skin
  • Gently wipe each eye from the inside out using a new piece of cotton wool for each so any infection won’t be transferred from one to the other
  • Clean around the nose, mouth and the outside of the ears using a new piece of cotton wool for each, not forgetting behind the ears
  • Clean your baby’s hands and feet and in-between the fingers and toes
  • Make sure to clean the folds or creases of the skin – particularly under the chin, at the neck, the arms and the back of the knees
  • Don’t insert cotton wool or anything else into any of your baby’s orifices: the nose, ears etc. will clean themselves
  • You don’t need to wash your baby’s cord stump it’s best to just leave it alone to dry up and fall off
  • Pat your baby dry gently, taking particular care to dry around the cord stump and the stump itself if it has become wet

Some babies will love the opportunity to be without a nappy for a little while and others will hate it. If he seems unhappy then the first thing to do is to check that the room is warm enough for him. As when changing you can do a lot to reassure and entertain him when topping and tailing: it’s a good idea to make lots of eye contact and to keep chatting to him, letting him know what you’re doing and asking him questions. If your baby really doesn’t like being naked you can undress and dress him in stages.

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