Delaying Babys First Bath: 8 Reasons Why Doctors Recommend Waiting Before Bathing A Newborn
My newborn daughter was screaming during her first bath as I watched helplessly from my bed. She was only about an hour old. I was trying to breastfeed her when the nurse took her from my arms, telling me that the baby had to be bathed before I was transferred to a different room. We dont do it this way anymore it is now standard protocol at many hospitals to wait 8-24 hours to give a baby his or her first bath, and up to 48 hours if the baby was delivered by cesarian section. Delayed newborn bathing is consistent with World Health Organization recommendations and based on medical research. As a hospital-based pediatrician, I know that delayed bathing is the safest medical choice for babies. As a mom, it just seems right.
How Do I Keep My New Baby Clean
It may be tempting to follow the lead of commercials, slathering your baby daily in sweet-smelling soaps in the cute tub you got for your baby shower, then bundling her up in an adorable hooded towel. But hold on, doctors warn: Newborns and infants have delicate skin, and a soapy bath every day can do more harm than good.
Over-bathing an infant may dry out the skin, making it itchy and rashy, explained Dr. Kelly M. Cordoro, M.D., a professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco who practices at UCSF Benioff Childrens Hospital. An important distinction here is bathing with soaps or other cleansers, versus soaking in just water. Dr. Cordoro, who is also a committee chair for the Society for Pediatric Dermatology, advises new parents to use soap conservatively. It can be very irritating and unnecessary, as it can wash away the top layer of protective skin cells, natural oils and normal healthy bacteria, leaving the skin dry, itchy and vulnerable to irritation and possibly skin infections.
Since bathing can be stressful in the beginning, there are a few things all parents should keep in mind:
How To Bathe Baby In A Bathtub
After your infants umbilical cord falls off, you can bathe them in a baby bathtub. Follow these steps to safely bathe your baby:
Remember to never leave a baby unattended in a tub, even for a second. They can quickly drown, even in a shallow amount of water.
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What If My Baby Has A Skin Condition
Eczema, the name for a group of skin conditions including atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis, is characterized by red, itchy, localized skin inflammation. Its one of the most common childhood skin issues, affecting about 10 percent of children under 18, according to the National Institutes of Health.
It may seem counterintuitive to give as few as two baths per week to babies with eczema you want to keep inflamed areas clean, right? But soap and other cleansers can worsen eczema or make an infant more likely to develop the condition, especially if theres a family history.
In her practice, Dr. Cordoro recommends that parents use a bathing method she calls soaking and sealing: soaking the infant in lukewarm water without using soap, then patting dry and applying a gentle moisturizer to seal in the moisture layer. Applying a moisturizer to infant skin daily, not just after baths, can developing or worsening.
How To Dry A Newborn After A Bath
The newborn baby is very delicate and sensitive to temperature changes, so after a bath, it must be dried carefully.
Begin the drying procedure with the upper body it will help you to protect the umbilical cord which is still fresh and moist. You can use disposable towels for this purpose: they are soft and convenient in use. Then proceed with drying the babys head. Put a diaper on him and pay attention to the genitals of the kid.
We would like to draw your attention to one important thing: do not forget that the newborn should be kept warm at all times after taking a bath. Dress her up with tender clothes or put her to bed wrapped into swaddling clothes because the baby is still not able to maintain the necessary body temperature.
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Safety Tips For Bath Time
Its important to keep safety in mind at bath time. Babies and young children should never be left unattended in a bath, not even for a minute . Here are some bath time tips:
- Get everything ready ahead of your babys bath, so you have everything you need to hand.
- Make sure you always use the hot and cold taps at the same time when you run the bath.
- Check the bath water temperature first before putting your baby in. The standard way to check is to put your elbow in the water because your hand can cope with high temperatures.
- Dont be distracted away by another child, a phone call or doorbell. What feels like a couple of seconds can turn into a minute or two. Leaving your little one even for a few moments could be enough time for them to seriously hurt themselves or drown.
- If you forget anything ask your partner or another family member to grab it for you. Or take your baby with you to get what you need.
Exposure To Bright Lighting
Being safe in a humid, closed and dark environment for a long nine months, your baby is not prepared for the harsh lighting of the hospital. The baby feels uneasy, startled and is unable to open their eyes due to the bright lights in the room. Your arms can form the perfect barrier to protect your baby from these annoying lights. So keep him safe there for a while and keep him, and yourself, cozy.
Whisking him away immediately for a bath and pouring water on him, however gently, is still startling for him. The glare of the bright lights is too much for him at this point as he has just opened his eyes and needs time to adjust. Once the birthing is over, it’s important to dim the light or partially cover the baby in a way that he is shielded from the lights. You can safely bathe your baby once he is more accustomed to the lights, is used to opening his eyes, is calm and is ready for the wonders of this world. His curious eyes are asking you, whats next!
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How Do I Wash My Baby
- If you want to top and tail your newborn, you can do this by washing them using cotton wool and bowls of warm water.
- You can wash your newborn in a small baby bath.
- If youd prefer to share a bath with your little one, see below for more details.
- It can help to have an extra pair of hands at bath time, so encourage your partner to get involved.
- You shouldnt use any cleansing products to bathe your baby only mild, non-perfumed soap can be used where needed. Plain water is safer for your babys skin during in the first month.
Is It Safe To Shower With Your Baby
Without the proper tools, its not the safest option, and here are some reasons why:
Youre slippery. Babys slippery. The floor is slippery. In other words, theres a greater fall risk in the shower.
Depending on the pressure of the water, a shower can be quite shocking. Water hitting babys body can cause a struggle, which is not what you want with an increased fall risk.
Typical shower gels and shampoos that you use on yourself may hurt babys sensitive eyes or delicate skin.
And just using these items in the first place without planning ahead of time to use a sling or some other carrier for baby necessitates a one-handed baby hold, which isnt safe, either.
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When Should I Give My Baby A Bath
- You dont need to give your newborn baby a bath in their first few days but you can if you like.
- If youre anxious about bathing your little one, you dont need to put them into a bath until you feel confident about it.
- You may prefer to just wash your little ones face and bottom to begin with. This is sometimes called topping and tailing.
- Choose a bath time when your little one is content and awake. Its better not to bathe your baby straight after a feed or when theyre hungry or tired.
- Some babies love bath time to begin with, others dont. You may need to try different ways of bathing your baby and at different times of day, to find out what suits you both.
How To Give Your Baby A Sponge Bath
- Keep things simple, but make sure you are prepared beforehand with supplies, such as a washcloth or baby sponge, a basin of water, and a towel.
- Clean your baby on a secure surface such as a changing table or bed. You can also lay a towel or blanket on the floor to soften it, or place your baby in your lap. If your baby is on an elevated surface, you must keep on hand on your baby at all times so they dont fall.
- Be careful not to get water in your babys eyes, and dont directly sponge their healing umbilical cord stump.
- Make sure you keep your baby warm during this process. You may consider wrapping your baby with a towel and only uncovering your babys different body parts when they are ready to be washed.
Your babys umbilical cord stump should fall off within the first one to two weeks of life, at which point you can immerse your baby in water.
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Tips For Safely Bathing Your Newborn
Besides keeping your baby happy and getting them clean, safety should be a top concern when it comes to bathing your baby. Unfortunately, drowning is something all parents of newborns need to be aware of.
As the AAP notes, ost child drownings inside the home occur in bathtubs, and more than half of bathtub deaths involve children under 1 year of age. These are sobering statistics, but they are not meant to scare you instead, they are reminders to take safety very seriously when it comes to bathing your baby.
Here are some other safety recommendations to keep in mind:
Baby Bath: Time For A Sponge Bath
Gentle sponge baths are perfect for the first few weeks until the umbilical cord falls off, the circumcision heals, and the navel heals completely.
The basics of bathing a baby:
- First, undress baby — cradling the head with one hand. Leave the diaper on . Wrap baby in a towel, exposing only those areas that you are washing.
- Using a baby bath sponge or wash cloth, cleanse one area at a time. Start behind the ears, then move to the neck, elbows, knees, between fingers and toes. Pay attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck.
- The hair comes toward the end of bath time so baby doesn’t get cold. While newborns don’t have much hair, you can sponge the few wisps that are there. To avoid getting eyes wet, tip the head back just a little. There’s no need for shampoo just use water.
- Now it’s time to remove the diaper and sponge baby’s belly, bottom, and genitals.
- Wash little girls from front to back. If there’s a little vaginal discharge, don’t worry — and don’t try to wipe it all away. If a little boy is uncircumcised, leave the foreskin alone. If circumcised, don’t wash the head of the penis until it’s healed.
- Gently pat baby dry. Rubbing the skin will irritate it.
Bath time is over, and your fresh little baby is ready for a clean diaper and clothes!
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Putting Baby In The Bath
To put your baby in the bath safely:
- lower them into the water on their back
- support their head, shoulders and back with both hands
If you use your bath youll need to lean over your baby, which isnt very comfortable. Usually it’s easier to use a basin or a small baby bath on the floor. When theyre bigger and youre feeling more confident, you could try a slightly deeper bath.
Doctors Recommend Sponge Bathes To Start
For the first two weeks, or so, pediatricians recommend sponge baths. Two weeks is about how long it takes for the stump left from the baby’s umbilical cord to fall off and heal. If you completely submerge your baby in water before the wound heals, this could increase the risk of infection or cause irritation, says Daryznkiewicz.
Also, if your baby is circumcised, pediatricians recommend sponge bathing until the circumcision site is healed, as well.
“The sponge bath should start with washing the face and working downwards until you are done,” says Daryznkiewicz. “As you get comfortable you can extend the bath but you want to make sure your child stays warm.”
As they get older, you can transition to a warm bath in a few inches of water. When choosing a soap, Daryznkiewicz suggests a scent and fragrance-free option, since scents can irritate sensitive skin or cause flare-ups of eczema.
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Bathe Your Baby 1 To 3 Times A Week
After that, pediatricians recommend no more than three times a week for 10 to 15 minutes at a time.
“One to two times may be fine as well,” says Dr. Rob Darzynkiewicz, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Hazel Health. “This will help make sure your baby stays clean. Doing it more than that can dry out the skin, which is very sensitive.”
Over bathing can actually decrease the bacteria that naturally occur on your baby’s skin. This can not only cause dry and irritated skin but in some rare cases, it can cause an infection. But not bathing your baby enough also has consequences.
Bathing your newborn less often than once a week could result in rashes between the folds of the baby’s skin or in their diaper, Darzynkiewicz says.
So stick with the goldilocks range of one to three times a week.