Bathing a child

Bath time can be a fun time for both babies and young children, and parents and carers alike. It’s an opportunity for bonding, exploration and play, however water can be dangerous, especially so for babies and young children who require constant and appropriate supervision during bath time.

To support parents and carers in keeping their baby or child safe during bath time we have developed the Bath Time Duck which reminds them of the key messages about how to keep their baby or child safe:

Do plan ahead: Before you start to run the bath and bathing your baby, gather everything you will need to hand. Always use the family bath or a baby bath. Always ensure that if you use a baby bath this is on the floor rather than on a raised surface, and that you follow any instructions for use which have been supplied with the baby bath.

Use touch supervision: Keep a hand on your child at all times and never leave them unattended, or in the care of another child. It's easy to get distracted away by a phone call, doorbell or another child. Leaving your child even for a few moments could be enough time for them to seriously hurt themselves or drown.

Check the water: Before putting your child in the water make sure to check the temperature and the depth of the water. The water should be warm but not hot. Check it with your elbow and mix the water well using a figure of eight action, so there are no hot areas. The depth should be 5-10 cms for newborn to 6 months of age. For older babies that are sitting up, the water level should be no more than hip-height (when they are in a sitting position).

Keep your child safe: Make sure anyone else who bathes your child knows these safety messages too.


To be displayed in settings such as waiting rooms, childrens centres, hospitals and community centres. Email the LSCP Business Unit to request a copy of the poster.

We would also encourage practitioners to reiterate the message that if a parent or carer is unsure, or wants further advice they should talk to a professional such as their midwife, health visitor or someone at their child’s nursery or children's centre.

Information and Resources

To support practitioners in reiterating these messages the LSCP has developed campaign materials for the Bath Time Duck, which can be used as part of their usual interaction with parents and carers, whereby safe bathing would be discussed such as by midwives, 0-19 Public Health Integrated Nurses and childcare practitioners.

See our web page for parents and carers on The Bath Time Duck with information on bathing a child safely. 

The following sites provide further information about bathing babies and young children, including safe bathing, as well as information to support parents in looking after their child:

  • Washing and bathing your baby - from NHS Choices
  • The Baby Buddy app - This app guides you through your pregnancy and the first 6 months following your baby's birth. It is designed to help you look after your baby's mental and physical health, as well as your own, and give your baby the best start in life. Within the app you will find information regarding bathing. Download app here

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