Bathing your newborn for the first time is an experience that you get to treasure along with many other firsts. But deciding when to give your baby a bath for the first time is not as simple as you’d expect it to be.
So, it’s important to know how long you need to wait before your baby’s first bath, how to bathe and how often you bathe your baby. Not to worry though, because we’ve got you covered.
When should my baby get his/her first bath?
Before the onset of modern medicine, traditionally, newborns would be given a bath right after birth. But this practice has been abandoned in favour of a more cautious approach. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends waiting at least 24 – 48 hours before you give your baby a bath.
Thanks to a better understanding of human anatomy and physiology, we now know why we need to delay a newborn’s first bath.
Why should I delay my baby’s first bath?
Here are the most important reasons why you need to wait at least 24 hours before your newborn gets a bath:
- Bonding & Breastfeeding: Having the mother hold her newborn right after birth is not just an emotional urge but a medical necessity. Skin-to-skin contact between the newborn and its mother encourages bonding, and early breastfeeding
- Body Temperature & Blood Sugar: Babies are used to a temperature of 37˚ C (98.6 F) in the womb. So a bath right after birth could cause your baby to develop a cold and even develop hypothermia. And the stress caused due to such a drastic change in temperature could even cause a drop in blood sugar, hypoglycemia.
- Better Resistance To Infections: Vernix, a waxy white substance that coats a baby’s skin before birth, acts as a natural moisturizer and has antibacterial It’s best to leave vernix on a newborns’ skin for a while to help prevent their delicate skin from drying out and also prevent infections.
So, keeping these in mind, delay your newborn’s bath as long as you can because the longer you wait, the better it is for your baby.
My baby’s first sponge bath
A newborn’s skin is sensitive and prone to drying out. And a proper bath is not recommended at all until your baby’s umbilical area is fully healed.
So, technically your baby’s first bath will be a sponge bath. Continue to give a sponge bath until your baby’s umbilical area is healed
How to give my baby his/her first proper bath?
Once the umbilical area is fully healed, you can then plan on giving your baby a proper bath in a tub or a large enough sink which is safe. Also see if your newborn is fussy about the new activity. You don’t have to jump right in, instead, ease him/her into it. And bathing three times a week is more than enough.
Just follow these simple steps for his/her bath:
- Gather the necessary supplies. Pick a gentle baby soap or baby wash (hypoallergenic), baby shampoo, baby towel and blanket. If you don’t have a baby tub, then place a blanket at the bottom of the bathtub or a large clean sink and then fill it with water.
- Keep the baby warm. Make sure the room or the bathroom is warm at around 23˚ C – 26˚ C. Similarly, maintain the water temperature at around 38˚ C. Test the water with your hand or elbow to see if the temperature is right. Always keep your baby covered with a warm washcloth or towel.
- Hold your baby properly. While supporting your baby’s head with your one hand, use your other hand to guide him into the water feet first. You’ll want to do this swiftly so he/she doesn’t get cold, and you’ll want to make sure his/her head and most of his/her body are above the water level.
- Use soap sparingly. To avoid drying out your baby’s skin, use the baby soap in little quantities. Use a washcloth to gently rub the soap onto his/her skin. And if he/she has hair, then use a drop of baby shampoo. Be careful not to let any soap or shampoo run into their eyes, nose or mouth.
- Rinse and wipe. After rinsing off the shampoo and soap, lift him/her slowly out of the tub and start wiping down with a warm washcloth/towel gently. Make sure to cover him/her up quickly afterwards to keep your baby warm. And then pat dry slowly.
- Applying lotion. Although it is not absolutely necessary to use baby lotions or oil right after bath, you can apply a small amount of hypoallergenic baby lotion to keep them moisturized.
Although bathing a slippery, squirming, and sometimes screaming baby takes some practice, it will get easier with every bath. And you can even make it a fun activity by setting a routine for bath time. Your baby will begin enjoying bath time just as much as you.
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