Bathing bub is relaxing and a brilliant way to create a soothing bedtime routine. But many new parents aren’t sure how often they should be bathing their baby. Every day? Every couple of days? Once a week?
Mum’s Grapevine expert, midwife Edwina Sharrock says less is more when it comes to bathing bub.
I want to start a bedtime routine for my newborn that includes a bath, but I’m not sure I should be bathing her every night? My mum said it washes off her natural oils, is that true?
– Jenny Summer 2022/23 baby group
Like so many things you are about to experience as new parents, this is one topic that you will hear much conflicting advice around. As a midwife, I encourage parents to form their own routines with their new little bubs. However, you do need to know some facts. And the fact is, sometimes bathing your baby can actually do harm!
Here is what you need to know.
The first bath
This is something we cover in the Birth Beat course as many parents are not aware that now it is unlikely your newborn bub will be washed straight after birth.
Even when I started midwifery (yikes I am going to show my age here), when bub was born, it was standard practice for us to take your baby shortly after birth and wash, measure and weigh your baby. We would then hand back your baby dressed and wrapped!
Thankfully we have come a long way and now we understand the importance of the golden hour. This is the first hour after birth where all efforts are made for bub and Mum to have uninterrupted skin-to-skin. That’s right, the best place for bub to be is naked on your bare chest. This is incredibly important for bonding, oxytocin production, and you deserve this reward after birthing your baby.
We intentionally do not wash babies in these early hours for another reason as well, as discussed we do not want to interrupt the golden hour but we also do not want to wash off all that lovely amniotic fluid and vernix (the white thick creamy looking stuff). Vernix is natures protection for your little bubbas skin and the baby is comforted by the familiar smells of the liquor from in utero.
When you are ready and decide to do your first bath the midwife will give you some tips on how to do this safely. Bath time can also help promote a good sleep and settle routine.
Now you are wondering how on earth bathing my baby could actually do my baby harm?
This is because particularly in the early day’s bubs skin is very sensitive. Many bath soaps, creams, gels, even those claiming to be chemical free etc actually dry the babies skin out. Therefore avoid using these things and follow the basics as shown on our bath demo video.
My last point and I am absolutely begging you of this. If you are feeling too tired to bath your baby or you are using bath aids (you know the little cradle products) do not bath your baby and never use those cradle products. This is how babies drown in baths and we still have alarmingly high statistics of babies and toddlers drowning in baths.
So, how often should I bath my baby?
It is perfectly acceptable for you to only bathe your baby a few times a week, or until the next poo explosion happens!
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Edwina Sharrock a registered midwife and mother of two. She’s also the founder of Birth Beat – an online antenatal course that is simple, easy and convenient to watch from the privacy of your home. Birth Beat includes prenatal yoga, a complete prenatal course, plus breastfeeding, sleep and settle. All delivered to you in easy to watch videos.