How Often should you Bathe Your Baby?
The short answer, every 2-3 days. Hang on a minute and we’ll discuss why.
As many mothers and caregivers will tell you, taking care of a newborn is not a one-size-fits-all. Each baby will pose different challenges and drive you to question your parenting abilities time and time and again! But even amidst this motherly self-doubt and confusion, a few things remain unchanged across the board. And how to bathe a baby is one of them. And while most people may brush it off as something anyone can do, it’s not always that easy.
Babies are fragile. These little angels should be handled with extra care. So then one wonders, how often should you bathe a baby, or even how should it be done in the first place? Good questions. And you’ve landed on the right page. In the next two-three minutes, you’ll learn how to bathe your little angel, how often you should do it, and why it’s not recommended to do it daily. Buckle up.
How to bath a newborn
Bathing a baby for the first time can be challenging, but you don’t have to overthink it. As with anything, you get better with time. Furthermore, it’s one of the most unforgettable memories you can make with your little one. Use this opportunity as an intimate moment to share with your little one and your significant other.
Before you begin bathing the baby, make sure you have all the necessary items within reach to have a smooth bathing time. These include:
- Dry clean towel
- Sponge or soft cloth for washing
- Fragrance-free gentle soap
- A bathtub
- Warm water
First things first, ensure that the water temperature is lukewarm. Please note that unlike you, a baby’s skin is more sensitive and therefore needs more care when bathing. Check the water temperature with your fingers first and make sure it’s temperature is the same as the body temperature, which is 37-38°C. And to be on the safe side, you can get a bath thermometer to monitor the temperatures.
How to Hold
If it’s a newborn, you don’t want to submerge them fully in the water. But depending on how you bathe your baby you have different techniques to make sure you hold them correctly.
When you use a baby bathtub gently slide your baby into the tub, feet first, holding her securely with one of your arms under your little one’s head (use your hand to grasp the underarm farthest away from you) and the other supporting the bottom.
If you choose to take a bath together you hold the baby and squat down with their head facing you. Slowly lower the head down and slant it downwards towards the bath while holding the baby with your lap with one hand on its back, neck, and head.
Bathing a baby as you hold them can prove challenging especially if you’ve had a long day. A baby bath sling is a good and safe option. It’s one of the easiest and safest ways of bathing a baby as all you have to do is place them in the sling and bathe them. When your little one is comfortable you can use a piece of cloth to wipe the face, back of the ears, nostrils, and head gently. Make sure that the piece of cloth is damp, not dripping wet.
Washing your little One
There are certain areas in a baby where the skin folds. These are:
- The neck
These areas are notorious for harboring bacteria, dead skin cells, milk spills, sweat, and virtually any dirt that a baby accrues over time. You want to make sure these areas are properly cleaned using warm water and a piece of cloth. Wipe them softly and gently ensuring there’s no residue left.
Babies spend most of their time playing with their hands and feet. So remember to wash these areas using a soapy piece of cloth. Remember to spread the fingers and toes wide while cleaning them to get down to those hidden areas.
Type of Soap
For a newborn’s first month, try not to use soap, and if you must, make sure it’s unmedicated, fragrance-free, and is a super-gentle soap. This is a precautionary measure as the newborn’s skin is easily irritated and may trigger allergic reactions.
Why Delay a Newborn's First Bath?
Research by the National Institute of Health has shown that delaying the baby's first bath by at least 24 hours may be more beneficial than instantly giving them a bath right after birth. “But they just came from the womb,” you may ask. The womb is the cleanest and germ-free place the baby could ever ask for. So a few more hours without a bath will do no harm. What you can do is wipe them dry. Now, delaying the baby’s first bath has a ton of benefits some of which include:
1. Temperature Regulation
25% to 45% of neonatal mortality occurring during the first 24 hours are caused by hypothermia. Hypothermia can be avoided by keeping the baby warm after birth. You should also avoid bathing a newborn in the first 24 hours especially if you’re in a cold environment.
2. Easier feeding acceptance
Bathing a baby instantly after birth disrupts the baby’s adjustment to its new environment making it hard for them to feed. To avoid this, hold the baby on your chest with skin-to-skin contact creating a loving environment that will give you an easier time breastfeeding or bottle feeding with HiPP Dutch Organic Formula for 0-6 months old babies.
3. Maintain skin's moisture
A newborn’s skin is sensitive. Washing them before they fully adjust to the new environment will lead to dry skin and sometimes eczema. By delaying the first bath, you give the baby’s skin time to develop and adjust to retain its moisture.
4. Avoid Omphalitis
Omphalitis is an infection of the umbilical cord and surrounding tissues. It occurs when the umbilical cord gets exposed to germs and pathogens infecting the area. Washing a newborn whose umbilical cord hasn’t fallen yet increases the propensity of this happening.
5. Stabilize blood sugar levels
The placenta does all the sugar-regulating work when the baby is in the womb. After birth, the baby regulates it’s own blood sugar levels. Exposing the baby to water and a cold environment leads to an increase in stress hormone levels which then lowers the baby's blood sugar. The fatigue caused by such low blood sugar also makes it harder to feed your baby.
How often should you bathe a baby?
A lot of factors go into determining the frequency of bathing a baby. One thing remains clear, though. It should not be done often. The goal of bathing a baby is not to keep them fresh or give them a nice scent, or to keep them beautiful. The goal is to keep them healthy. You can bathe your baby at any time of the day. It's a good idea to pick a time when you're relaxed and you won't be interrupted.
Good to know: It's advised to avoid bathing your baby when your little one is hungry or straight after a feed.
How often you bathe your baby depends on various factors such as age, activity level, climate, and hygiene levels. As a rule of thumb, bathe your baby around twice a week.
0-3 Months Old
0-3 months can feel challenging especially as a first-time parent. For the first month, you want to keep an eye on the umbilical cord. Ensure water doesn’t touch the area and wait for the cord to fall off naturally. During this time, bathe a baby once or twice every week regardless of how much mess they make during feeding. Washing your baby a little more often is better during this period.
3-6 Months Old
At this point, the umbilical cord has fallen and healed and you’re free to dip your baby in baths. They still need only two to three baths a week but now they can spend a little more time bathing. If you notice they enjoy taking a bath, you can exploit it as bonding time. However, if you decide to bathe them more than twice a week, ensure you do not use soap at other times to avoid drying their skin.
6-12 Months Old
At this age, they are becoming old enough to take a bath more often if they want. However, we still insist on erring on the side of caution and keeping the bathing frequency to less than 2 to 3 times a week.
Why You should Not bathe Your Baby Daily
Babies do not need to bathe daily. They don’t gather sweat or dirt the same way as adults. Unlike an adult who only needs one shower a day despite spending their entire day out and about, babies need only two to three baths or showers a week.
Having a baby is such a delight. These cute little ducklings will fill your life with unprecedented happiness. So cherish every minute you spend with them in this tender age because it will be over before you know it in a blink of an eye! Make bathing time bonding time. Some parents use this time to play with the baby creating precious memories that will be etched deep into their little minds. You can also use this time to feed them as they’re more likely to be relaxed and accepting. If you’re bottle-feeding, find the best organic baby formula here.
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