Should I Give My Baby its Bottle Before Bath or After? (PLUS When to Bath)

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.


Many parents ask if they must give a bottle before or after a bath and if it’s the latter, how long to wait. This is also the question I asked myself when I became a father.

You can feed a baby before or after a bath. It depends on how it fits into your lifestyle. How long to wait and why is another question. You should wait at least 30 minutes, but ideally 2 hours after a feed to bathe a baby. 

Key takeaways

  • Babies should wait two hours after a bath before feeding
  • They should wait 2 hours after a feed for a bath
  • They should wait after both feeding and bathing before sleeping
  • Timing of the bath is essential, and should perhaps not be done around 6 pm. 

Should you Feed a Baby a Bottle Before or After a Bath

It does, after all, seem very practical to feed the baby, then bathe it and put it to bed. However, as we’ll see, it’s not quite as simple as that. There are many factors to consider before deciding on the order of events, not least waiting 30 minutes or more. Wrong feeding time might be the reason for your baby’s crying but you’ll see that the considerations to make are not as simple as changing the feeding times.

All in all, it still does depend on the baby and your schedule. In fact, there is no rule that you should bathe a baby at 6 pm. You can bath them in the morning. Or at 10 PM. That said, let’s get to the question of which task to perform first – bathing or bottle. 

Feeding before a bathFeeding after a bath 
Ideal for early in the morning Ideal for feeding in the evening 
Better for toddlersBetter for infants 
Wait 1 to 2 hours after feeding before bathingWait 30 minutes before feeding after a bath 
Great for when you’re going outIdeal for when you’re going out 

Feeding a Baby a Bottle After Bathing Will Depend on the Age

Babies tend to find that a bath simulates the warm, comforting womb. Some babies become relaxed and comfortable and so many parents enjoy bathing before feeding. However, this could also cause them to fall asleep when feeding. They would not get their full feed and the nutrients they need. 

Babies Older Than 6 Months 

Others would find a bath stimulating and may fuss a little too much when feeding. So, if your child is older than 6 months, find out what works for them, and follow that. 

Newborns Feeding and Bathtime

Newborns, however, don’t yet have a schedule. On the few days per week they need gentle washing, they might feed, wait, bath, feed and then sleep. You simply have to experiment to see what works. Remember that their skin is still fragile, and so you just do a very gentle wipe. 

On the subject of bathing newborns, here is a video about how to bath a newborn baby. It’ll help you bath them without harming them in any way 

Children Need to Reduce Dependency on You and the Bottle 

There is yet another consideration. According to Lucy Wolfe, a sleep consultant, children should never be fed just before going to bed. This is because children over 6 months need to reduce dependency on you or the bottle. They may find that a bottle soothes them before bed, and they may fall asleep quickly, but it causes difficulties in the sleep cycle, and resistance to daytime naps. They struggle to stitch their night time sleep phases together, and therefore wake up. 

This was one of the reasons why our daugher (and therefore we as parents) had sleep issues when she was a baby. Here’s an article I wrote about why you shouldn’t give a baby a bottle in bed.

This means that if you feed a baby after bathing, you have to leave at least 45 minutes before bedtime. This may be stretching things timewise, and you may have to give the bottle before bathing. This is why I say the following:

For many parents, this may end the question once and for all about whether the bath or the bottle comes first. There is simply not enough time in the evening for feeding, bathing, waiting and then getting the baby to sleep. 

Balint Horvath, who runs this blog 🙂

Finish Bath 30 Minutes Before Bedtime 

Regarding bathing, Lucy Wolfe again recommends finishing a bath at least 30 minutes before bedtime, because some babies get hyper excited by a bath. What’s more, the baby needs that time for the body temperature to regulate after spending time in warm water. 

So, all in all, it’s best to bath your baby earlier in the day, or at 10 pm for a 10.30pm sleep. 

How Long After Feeding Should You Bathe Your Baby?

You should wait 1 – 2 hours after feeding before bathing your baby. This is because bathing raises body temperature, stimulates circulation, and diverts energy from digestion. If you wait a little, the food can be digested properly, and you can bathe him or her with ease of mind so that they will absorb the feed and receive all their nutrients. 

How Long After Bathing Should You Feed Your Baby?

The question as to how long after bathing you should feed your baby isn’t really an issue. You can feed the child as soon as you like after bathing. There is no reason to wait apart from practical ones. You’ll have to put on their clothes and swaddle them, but other than that, there is no length of time to wait before feeding them. 

Are There Any Health Concerns Feeding a Baby After a Bath?

There aren’t any health concerns for feeding a baby after a bath. It is true that some mothers worry that a baby’s increased body temperature will result in the baby’s getting a cold if feeding after bathing, but this is not a scientific fact. You shouldn’t worry about this at all. 

Some people also believe that a mother’s milk will seem cold after feeding, but again, this isn’t backed up by science. You should also learn how to warm a baby bottle so that the milk isn’t too cold for your baby to drink. 


So, the question about whether to give a bottle before a bath or after is more a question of what time of the day to bathe a baby. There should be adequate time for your baby to settle if you decide to feed your little one after a bath. We all think that we have to bathe a baby at 6 pm, but there’s no rule that establishes that. We can perhaps bathe them at 9 PM instead. 

If you have any doubts, you might want to talk to a lactation consultant who help also with bottle feeding schedules.

What about the related topic of whether you should give your baby a bottle before breakfast or afterwards?

Photo of author


I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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