Bathing your little one is something a lot of parents look forward to! It can be a really relaxing time, especially if your baby enjoys the bath.
It’s a great time for bonding because you’re distraction free as well.
But it can also raise a lot of questions, even anxiety, for many new parents (or experienced parents)!
The first question is usually along the lines of when do we actually bathe our baby?!
The recommendations have changed over recent years and instead of bathing them within the first hour or two of birth, the World Health Organization recommends, “Bathing should be delayed until 24 hours after birth. If this is not possible due to cultural reasons, bathing should be delayed for at least 6 hours.”
There are a few reasons for this:
- Allows for better temperature and blood sugar regulation
- Allows for more skin to skin bonding and improved initiation of breastfeeding if mom has chosen that
- Allows for the vernix (the waxy coating on your newborn) to moisturize their skin
One study showed a 166% increase in hospital breastfeeding success after implementing a 12-hour delay in baby's first bath compared to those bathed within the first couple hours.
After that, most newborns only need a bath a few times a week! They don’t get as sweaty or dirty as newborns, or even in the first year of life. Over bathing can cause dry skin for some little ones.
Until their umbilical cord stump falls off, we want to stick to sponge baths. It usually stays on for about 1-2 weeks!
A sponge bath is just a quick little water bath where they aren’t fully submerged in the water. This can be done in a warm bathroom, where you just wipe them down with warm water and keep them nice and cozy.
Once they’re ready for “real” baths, you can take one with them! This can help with body temperature, aid in bonding, and a smoother process overall because you’re holding them (which they love).
If that isn’t possible, ensure the water is warm enough (recommendation is for 100 deg F) and using a baby bath tub is very helpful.
Pro tip: have absolutely everything ready that you would need for before, during, and after the bath before you start! This includes the wash cloths, soap, towel, lotion, diaper, pajamas, brush, bottle (if bottle feeding), pacifier, and warm room!
Remember to enjoy all the special moments of bathing your little one and use that time for extra bonding at the end of your day!