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4 Reasons To Delay Your Baby's First Bath

Have you thought about how long you'll wait to give your baby their first bath?

If you're expecting, it's a question worth considering that you may not have before! While in the recent past, babies often received their first bath almost immediately after birth, there are some reasons why delaying this ritual is now considered the gold standard for your little one! 

4 reasons to delay baby's first bath

1. Protecting the skin barrier: Babies are born covered in vernix, a white, waxy substance that acts as a natural moisturizer and protective barrier for their delicate skin. This vernix not only keeps the skin hydrated but also shields it from harmful bacteria, reducing the risk of infections.

Tip: Rather than washing off the vernix, gently wipe away the excess and massage the remainder into your baby's skin for added protection.

This white stuff is typically only really thick in babies born a little on the premature side, and with that in mind, why is it still on them? Keep reading!

2. Regulating body temperature: Newborns have limited capacity to regulate their body temperature - they require a constant heat source as newborns. Vernix helps to retain heat, reducing stress hormones and aiding in the adjustment to the external environment. Body temperatures dropping even a degree or two in a baby can be very significant. Their bodies will use the little resources that it has to try and stay warm which can lead to decreasing blood sugar levels.

3. Stabilizing blood sugar levels: Early bathing, along with other stressors like separation from mom, can cause a drop in a baby's blood sugar levels by increasing stress hormones. Babies have a naturally response to stress of releasing cortisol - this hormone is directly linked to blood sugar levels and energy.

Often when babies are ‘stressed’ they will become increasingly sleepy and can lead to difficulties waking up baby to feed. We often see this too, when babies are passed around to visitors shortly after birth.

4. Promoting breastfeeding success: Delaying the first bath allows for uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact between the parents and baby. This has been shown to increase the likelihood of successful breastfeeding in the long term by creating both safety (decreasing stress) and allowing regular access to the breast for feeding (though even if you are bottle feeding skin to skin and delayed bathing are very helpful!). 

But, how long should you wait?

Well, that depends a lot on you honestly. Some cultures and religions have very specific guidelines about bathing babies. But if you don’t have those guidelines to follow, then you really get to pick!

The easiest thing to know is babies really don’t get dirty. The vernix can be rubbed into their skin (like a thick lotion), milk dribbles can be wiped off with a warm water cloth, and otherwise, they aren’t out rolling in mud puddles just yet.

Some people wait a few days and others will wait a couple of weeks. There is no wrong answer here! Also, let's not forget about that irresistible new baby smell! By delaying the first bath, you can prolong the enjoyment of that precious scent a little longer. It leaves so quickly! 

If you've already given your baby a bath shortly after birth, don't worry. Every parent makes the best decisions they can with the information available to them at the time. However, if you're eagerly anticipating the arrival of your little one, consider these benefits of delaying their first bath. 

Introducing an early bath can have some pretty big impacts! Surprised by some of them? Leave me a comment below!


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This comprehensive class covers everything from pregnancy hormones to postpartum, and provides vetted information and advice from a Registered Nurse and guest experts, all from the comfort of your own home!

Enrolling in the Empowered Birth online prenatal class is easy – just click on the link below! You can take the class at your own pace, and get all the support you need to confidently welcome your baby into the world. Click on the link and sign up today!

mom washing young baby's hair in the bath


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