Why Is Bathing Babies So Important?
Baths are a great way to both clean and bond with your baby. Baths don’t have to occur daily, in fact, I recommend every other day.
When should a newborn’s first bath be? Are there benefits or drawbacks to delaying that first bath?
At birth babies are covered in vernix. This is a waxy white substance that acts as a natural moisturizer and may have anti-bacterial properties.
The World Health Organization recommends delaying the first bath for 24 hours. The rationale is that babies that get baths right away may become cold and this can increase their risk of hypothermia (body temperature drops below normal). The minor stress of the bath may also increase that risk of blood sugars dripping, known as hypoglycaemia.
Also, the first 24 hours is important time for skin-to-skin and infant-parent bonding, two important factors in breastfeeding success. One study found that by delaying bathing for at least 12 hours there was an increased likelihood of breastfeeding initiation and in-hospital breastfeeding rates.
What is the best way to bathe a newborn? Water temp? In the sink? With a washcloth? Special soap?
The first step in bathing your newborn is to make sure to have everything needed for the bath within arms reach: washcloths, a towel, a diaper, moisturizer and a change of clothes. Before putting the babe in the water, check the water temperature with your elbow. It should feel warm, not hot. If you have a thermometer the optimal temperature is around 37-38°C.
Support the baby’s back, head, and neck with one arm and use the other hand to bathe.
You don’t need to use soaps everywhere, just in the soiled areas. Use soap at the end of the bath so the infant is not sitting in the soapy water as this can dry out the skin. For soaps, I recommend using mild soaps designed for babies.
After bath time, pat dry skin with a towel. Rubbing the skin with a towel can cause skin irritation.
Apply moisturizer and make sure to wrap up the baby and put on clothing right away as newborns lose heat quickly.
I use a baby sized tub when bathing my children as it made the process easier.
For newborns, one important thing to remember is to try to keep the umbilical cord stump dry. The umbilical cord stump falls off faster and heals faster when keeping it dry. So, for newborns sponge baths are preferred.
How often should you bathe your newborn?
Newborns and babies don’t need to be bathed every day, for my babies, I bathed them 2-3 times per week. Sometimes bathing everyday can dry out an infant’s skin. As a child gets older, they may need baths daily as they become more active!
Is there a special way you should dry a newborn?
Yes! Pat dry their skin and do not rub it dry. Rubbing can be irritating to their sensitive skin. While there is still a film of water on the skin, moisturize immediately with a fragrance free cream. This seals in the moisture.
Is there anything else you might like to add?
If you notice your little one is experiencing dry or irritated skin, consider adding Beta-Glucan to your bath. Beta-Glucan is a fiber that has been shown to help improve skin healing and hydration. Oats naturally contains 3-5% Beta-Glucan. If you want a more concentrated Beta-Glucan you can try by Dr Mom Beta-Glucan bath which contains 23% Beta-Glucan made from organic barley. (Bydrmom.com)