For new parents, a lot of daily life goes by in loving, fretting, and fussing over the baby. Despite being just tiny little humans, babies sure do come with a lot of chaos!
Even seemingly small and normal tasks might thus seem challenging and scary to new parents. Don't worry, you're not alone. You've got this!
Bathing the baby is one such challenge that a lot of parents and caregivers get confused about. When should a newborn's first bath be? How often should I bathe my baby? Do babies even need baths? Are sponge baths better than regular baths? Should toddlers bathe daily?
The questions might seem overwhelming and endless. But we've got the answers for you!
Here's a little baby bathing guide to help you out.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Newborn Baby?
When should a newborn's first bath be?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends waiting at least 24 hours after birth before giving your newborn baby a bath. If you can't go that long without bathing your newborn for cultural reasons, then wait for at least 6 hours.
Studies suggest that delaying the bath after birth can help with breastfeeding success. Clearly, immediately after birth, it's more important for your baby to spend time with the mother! Your doctor and nurses will also tell you how to proceed when it comes to keeping your baby clean.
Additionally, doctors believe that keeping the layer of vernix caseosa — the white, waxy, cheese-like layer of biofilm that covers the skin of newborns — intact for around 24 to 48 hours is beneficial for the baby.
The vernix protects the baby when they are in the womb, possesses antimicrobial properties, helps in regulating body temperature, and keeps the skin moisturized.
Thus, experts suggest delaying the newborn's bath so that the little one can continue to reap the benefits of having the vernix on their skin even after birth. In a few days, the vernix will simply get absorbed into the skin.
If there's any amniotic fluid, blood, or spit on your baby's head and body, use a soft, wet cloth to wipe it away.
Are there any exceptions here? Yes, if your baby is covered in meconium (early stool) or if the mother is positive for HIV or hepatitis, then it is important to give the little one a bath right after birth.
Now, you might be wondering what to do once you bring your newborn home. When should the baby's first bath out of the hospital be?
For the first few weeks, you don't need to bathe your baby every day. In fact, bathing them too often will probably dry out their skin. Additionally, it's better to keep the baby comfortably warm; with baths, there's always the risk of the baby getting cold.
Doctors generally recommend waiting until the umbilical cord stump heals, dries, and falls off to bathe the baby. This usually happens when the baby is between one and four weeks old.
Of course, until then, you can give them sponge baths. Use cooled boiled water and don't use soap. Damp cotton pads or Q-tips can be used to clean the gaps between their fingers, toes, and skin folds.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Baby Under Six Months Old?
After the umbilical cord falls off and the stump heals, you can give your baby a regular and proper bath two to three times a week.
Always use a half-filled baby bathtub or a shallow plastic tub for this purpose to make sure your baby stays safe. Gentle baby soap and mild shampoo can be used, but are not necessary. If you do use these products, make sure to avoid your baby's eyes during application and rinsing.
After giving your baby a bath, use a soft, clean towel to dry them thoroughly but gently.
Regularly inspect and smell your baby's skin to see if it is clean and healthy. Don't forget to check the area behind the baby's ears, neck, knees, and inside skin folds. Clean your baby's face properly as well.
The "topping and tailing" method comes in handy here. When you top and tail your baby, you wash their face and bottom using two bowls of lukewarm water and a soft cloth. This way, you won't have to put them in a bath but can still use water to clean them.
You can also wipe your baby's bottom using a wet cloth every time you change their diaper. It's important to get the diaper area clean in order to avoid infections and allergies!
Frequently (and gently) wipe their face with a wet cloth as well, to get rid of those milk, formula, spit, or puke stains. Keep your baby on a flat surface whenever you clean them.
Of course, if your baby becomes extremely dirty (thanks to surprise poops, pees, and pukes) you will have to properly bathe them! It's also a good idea to ask another person to assist you with the baby's bath.
You can even take your little one into the shower or bath with you as long as the water is gentle and warm. Sit down in the shower with your baby, keep their neck supported, and gently bathe them. If you're in a bathtub, you can keep your baby on your chest or propped-up thighs.
Don't keep your baby directly under the shower or tap, but use the water and your hands to clean them. Always make sure the water temperature is safe and ideal for the little one. Also, don't use your soaps and shampoos on them and make sure they don't slip and fall. You can ask someone to hold your baby once you're done with the shower/bath and need to get out.
Plus, give your baby an oil massage after a bath. You can use a natural oil such as coconut oil. This will help your baby's skin stay moisturized and will contribute to the healthy development of their skin, joints, and muscles. You can also apply oil to your baby's scalp after shampooing.
Keep your baby warm after bathtime, especially if you live in a cold area!
How Often Should You Bathe Your Baby Over Six Months Old?
As your infant grows older, they will explore their surroundings more and possibly get messy in the process.
From playing with the dog to enjoying crawling all over the house, your baby is going to get dirty! Anyway, chances are that you'll want to bathe them three or four times a week at this point, especially if you live in a hotter climate.
Remember, use soap and shampoo only if your kid is dirty. If your baby enjoys bathtime or you wish to cool them down during summer, simply give them a bath with cool water without using baby soap or shampoo.
If cultural reasons and traditions dictate that daily baths are best for your baby, speak to a paediatrician and choose the best course of action for your little one.
It is alright to give your baby daily baths as long as they aren't falling sick and their skin isn't dry.
If you are opting for daily baths, cut down on the use of baby soap; reserve soaps and shampoos for when your baby is truly dirty. Plus, moisturize your baby's skin thoroughly after each bath; hydrated skin is protected skin!
How Often Should You Bathe Your Toddler?
Toddlers usually need a bath every day or every other day. If your toddler is especially active, you might want to consider bathing them more often. This is also the time to instil in them the importance of taking baths/showers so that they practice good personal hygiene when they grow older.
Use kid-friendly soaps and shampoos for your toddler. You can also make bath time fun for them by telling them a story or using bath toys. This is also the time to make your kid laugh by using that baby shampoo to make horns out of their wet hair!
However, if your toddler has dry skin, you might want to cut back on how often you bathe them and how much soap you use. Remember that it's important to keep their skin moisturized post-bath.
The Bottom Line
To sum it up, you should bathe your newborn baby two to three times a week. Once they hit six months, you can start bathing them three to four times a week; you can also bathe them daily if your doctor gives you the go-ahead. And once they become a toddler, you should be bathing (or showering) them daily or every other day. It's best to use warm water for a baby bath or shower.
However, it's important to keep an eye on your child's skin and adjust their bathing schedule accordingly. If their skin is dry, you might want to bathe them less often. And if they're especially active, you might want to bathe them more often.
At the end of the day, there is no set rule on how often you should bathe your baby. It really depends on your baby's skin type, how active they are, the weather they encounter every day, and what works best for you and your family.
So, take all of these factors into consideration when deciding how often to give your little one a bath. And if you're ever in doubt, always err on the side of caution and consult with a doctor!
If your baby has skin and hair issues, such as eczema, rashes, or cradle cap, speak to a paediatrician to figure out the best way to tackle baths and skincare. If you want information about the most common skin problems in babies, check out this article.
Enjoy Happy and Healthy Baby Baths With Nature's Baby Organics
Clearly, babies have sensitive skin that requires gentle care. Thus, it's best to ditch baby products that rely heavily on chemicals and go the organic route instead. If you were looking for a reputed brand that specializes in organic baby care products, you've come to the right place!
Nature's Baby Organics offers a range of plant-based, minimally processed, and USDA Certified organic shampoos, body washes, lotions, oils, and dusting powders that are specifically designed to keep your baby's skin soft, hydrated, and protected.
From the SLS and paraben-free Shampoo & Body Wash (Coconut Pineapple) to the aloe, calendula, and chamomile containing Ultra Gentle Foaming Hand & Face Soap for Sensitive Skin, our baby products are meant for all skin types and are especially great for the problem-prone skin of babies.
Nature's Baby Organics uses the goodness of natural ingredients to make skin and hair care products that are gentle enough for babies and rich enough for grownups!
Head over to our website today and make bath time healthy, healing, and fun for you and your baby.