There was a time when bathing a newborn was something that would happen within the first 24 hours of the child being born. In fact, hospitals did this within 12 hours of the baby’s birth, and a new mother never gave it a second thought.
After all, it sounded like a good idea. The baby, up to this point, had only received a gentle sponge bath. So, perhaps it’s time for a real bath in a baby tub to take place.
However, recent studies have actually determined that this may not actually be a good idea. There are valid reasons why delaying a baby’s first bath is a good idea.
In fact, delaying the bath will actually be beneficial to a baby’s overall health and well being. What are these reasons that have been determined so that we are new parents who know that delaying the first bath?
Let’s go over these reasons, and once we do, no doubt, you will see these are quite legitimate.
Aids in getting baby to breastfeed
Breastfeeding has always been a desired way to nourish a newborn. So, getting the newborn to adjust to the practice of being breastfed is crucial.
The first time getting the child to latch on can be a bit of a challenge. Believe it or not, delaying the newborn’s first bath will actually assist in the process.
In fact, studies have proven that delaying the bath to allow the child more time to bond with their new mother tends to make the breastfeeding process easier.
The baby bath takes quality time away to create the bond of trust that is being established.
Baby’s a born with their own skin protectant
While a baby is in the womb, they are surrounded by a special protectant for their delicate skin known as vernix. When the child is born, the natural substance is still coating the skin.
The vernix tends to look like a white coating that seems to be waxy in appearance. The first thing that may come into our minds is to wash it off.
But, the vernix is still doing its job of protecting the newborn’s skin. So, keeping as much of it on the baby for the first few days will actually be beneficial.
Some are wiped off in the standard sponge baths but remember that babies tend to have wrinkling in the skin, and some vernix is in the creases.
So, another good reason to put off the first bath, to aid in protecting the baby’s skin during their first precious hours on this earth.
Regulates baby’s body temperature
When a baby is in the womb, the atmosphere around them is warmer than the one they will experience after birth.
So, a baby is still learning to adjust their body temperature accordingly when born, another way that body contact with their mother is beneficial.
The mother holding the baby to her chest in the hours following birth helps the baby start regulating their own body temperature. Taking the baby away from this time for a bath could be detrimental to temperature regulation according to medical studies.
Reduces stress levels
Again the baby is getting used to the world around them. Being in the safety of their mother’s arms will help them to feel secure.
However, when a child is taken for a bat,h, the bond break causes stress, but a child is still adjusting their eyesight. Imagine being not able to see in a world you don’t understand and suddenly being placed in water.
No, wonder the first time a baby has a bath in those first hours, they tend to start crying. It can be as traumatic as being born.
This could lead to a rise in the baby’s hormone levels and lower their blood sugar levels. The problems could only be temporary, but the whole thing will be traumatic none the less.
Exceptions to the rule
Above, we went into why delaying a baby’s first bath is beneficial. But, there are times when it needs to be understood that the first bath may need to be done within the first 24 hours.
A prime example of this is when the mother is HIV positive. Other conditions that could require the first bath to be done without delay is if the mother has a form of hepatitis or even has a form of herpes.
When this is determined, that baby under health guidelines will need to be bathed within two hours of birth.
Helpful tips to keep in mind
If delaying a baby’s first bath is possible, remember that each hospital has their own guidelines pertaining to this.
However, a parent can have input, and it is important to let it be known that you would like to put off your baby’s first bath. Another thing to remember is before a baby does have its first bath; the hospital staff will handle the child wearing gloves. It will be essential for you to do the same.
Once the child has been bathed for the first time, the use of gloves may not be necessary. The best course of action is to consult the medical staff on their guidelines.
When is the right time to bathe a baby the first time
Notice above, we say that it is best to delay the bath for the first 24 hours after birth? These are the guidelines brought forth by the World Health Organization.
However, some of these independent medical studies say it is best to wait 48 hours, if not longer.
Another thing to keep in mind that once the first bath has taken place and the baby has gone home, it isn’t essential to bathe the baby daily. In fact, this isn’t really recommended until the umbilical cord heals and dries up.
Again the best course of action is to consult the medical staff. It is always best to follow the guidelines for your own newborn’s personal needs.