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How often to bathe a newborn: tips, equipment and safety | My Baby My Star

Caregivers can bathe a newborn a few times a week. However, too much bathing can dry out a baby’s skin. For the first few weeks, caregivers may bathe a baby with a sponge before attempting traditional bathing.

Bathing a newborn can feel intimidating, and many caregivers wonder how often they should do it.

This article describes how often a newborn should be bathed and when is the best time for a baby’s first bath. There are also step-by-step instructions for sponge and traditional bathing, as well as important safety tips.

There are no rules for how often a newborn should be bathed, although bathing too frequently could dry out the newborn’s skin. Caregivers may prefer to give newborns a sponge bath or wipe them with a damp, soft washcloth than soak them in a bathtub.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), caregivers should wait 24 hours after birth before bathing a baby. If this is not possible for cultural or other reasons, they should wait at least 6 hours.

According to a 2019 study, the best practice in hospitals has historically been to bathe a newborn about 2 hours after birth, but there is evidence that delaying a baby’s first wash can be beneficial. The study, which involved around 1,000 newborns, found that delaying the first bath until 12 hours after birth improved the chances of successful breastfeeding.

In a smaller one Study 2019Postponing the first bath to 48 hours after birth helped maintain the baby’s temperature, improve skin hydration, and support skin development.

Babies are often born with a white, creamy substance on their skin called cheese smear, which begins to form during the third trimester of pregnancy. This naturally occurring substance protects a baby in the womb and aids in childbirth.

has vernix antibacterial properties which protect a baby’s skin from infection and help it retain moisture, so it’s beneficial to leave cheese spread on the skin for a while.

Learn more about exfoliating the skin of a newborn here.

Sponge baths are a great way to clean babies without submerging them in water. It can often be quicker, and some people may find it easier.

People need to get the equipment they need beforehand. These usually include:

  • Basin or tub for water
  • soft towel
  • soft washcloths or cotton pads
  • clean diaper

Caregivers should bathe babies when they are awake and content. You should speak to the baby calmly and reassuringly so that the baby perceives it as a positive experience.

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) in the UK has the following advice for a sponge bath:

  1. Fill the basin or tub with lukewarm water.
  2. Place the baby on a changing pad on the floor or a comfortable, flat surface.
  3. Undress the baby but leave the diaper on.
  4. Keep baby warm by wrapping them in a towel, exposing as little skin as possible while cleaning each part of the body.
  5. Dampen a soft washcloth with water and gently wipe baby’s face and scalp.
  6. Wipe around the eyes, from the inside out, to avoid getting dirt in the baby’s eye. Use a different section of washcloth for each eye.
  7. Gently wipe around the baby’s nose, mouth and the rest of the face, spending more time on less obvious areas. These can be under the baby’s chin, behind the ears, or between the folds of the neck.
  8. Gently cleanse the rest of the body, paying special attention to wrinkles and folds in the skin.
  9. Gently pat the baby dry and wrap them in the soft towel.
  10. Remove the diaper and gently wash the buttocks and genitals, always from front to back.
  11. Dry the baby and put on a clean diaper.

Try to keep the baby’s navel stump dry to encourage healing. Occasionally a stump may bleed, but this is not usually a cause for concern.

Learn more about bleeding belly buttons in newborns here.

Once the baby’s umbilical stump has fallen off, they can have a traditional bath. The AAD recommends the following method:

  1. Gather everything together, e.g. B. a baby bath, a washcloth and a mild, unscented baby soap. It’s also okay to use plain water.
  2. Fill the bathtub or sink halfway with lukewarm water and test with your elbow to make sure it’s not too hot.
  3. Put the baby in the water, feet first. Most of the baby’s body should be above water, so a caregiver can occasionally pour water over exposed areas for warmth.
  4. Use a washcloth to gently wash the baby’s face and scalp. If the baby has hair, a caregiver can use a mild baby soap or shampoo once or twice a week.
  5. Gently clean the other parts of the body, paying attention to wrinkles and creases. If you use soap, be sure to rinse it off thoroughly.
  6. Immediately after bathing, wrap the baby in a warm towel.

Find out more about organic and other natural products for babies here.

Because babies have thinner Skin as adults, a temperature suitable for an adult is too hot for a baby. To test the water temperature, dip an elbow in the water. If the water doesn’t feel cooler or warmer than your elbow, it’s probably a safe temperature for a baby.

To safely bathe a baby, caregivers can follow this advice from the NCT:

  • People should never leave their child unattended in the bathtub.
  • If the water gets too cold, remove the baby before adding warm water to raise the temperature. This is because sudden spurts of hot water could scald a baby’s skin.
  • Check the water temperature before putting the baby in the bath.
  • Don’t be distracted by another child, a phone, or a doorbell. Leaving a baby for even a few moments is enough to drown.
  • If a caregiver forgets something, they should ask someone else to bring it or take the baby to get it.
  • Never lift the bathtub or sink when the baby is still in it.

Learn more about hot water burns here.

Newborns don’t need to be bathed every day. It is best to postpone the first bath until 24 hours after birth or longer, so that the protective layer of the cheesy goo can remain on the skin.

Caregivers can give a baby a sponge bath or traditional bath once the umbilical stump has fallen off and healed.

Whichever method they use, caregivers should take safety precautions, such as B. checking the water temperature and avoiding distractions.


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