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5 Good reasons to delay Newborn’s First Bath

Baby’s first bath is one of this thing that can be really worrying for first time parents.

When I was a Nurse/Midwife student, I remember we were bathing newborn babies on Day 1 in postnatal ward with their mom. The main goal was to simply show how to do and to tone down it. It can be quite impressive to handle such a little human being for first time parents.

When I gave birth to Baba1 in York back in 2011, I asked if I could give a bath to my baby in the postnatal ward. Why? Simply because for me, it was like this. We bath baby after delivery. This was what I learnt and what I saw all my little life. The answer shocked me. I could not give a bath to my baby and I begged someone to show me and be with me for the first bath. I know it is quite funny as I have bathed so many newborns but was so anxious for mine! As I explained in one of my Birth experience Blogpost , regarding my own children, I loose any judgemental capacity. The eventual answer I got was “ask your health visitor to show you once back at home”.

Well, I had no choice. I came back home with my tiny baby and wanted to bath her. I waited the health visitor visit and she replied to me that she did not have the time to show me! I thought thankfully I know how to do it – I have done it before – I just needed this kind of support to help me build back my confidence and build my confidence in my new Mum role. I did it on day 2 for Baba1. Well, I used scented products from DAY2. Those famous products advertised everywhere and it was a wrong choice. Baby started to have spots on her face: little to start with then she was completely covered. We first thought it was baby acne than it was eczema. I felt so guilty for using all these products. And after three months trying to help our little baby and soothing the itchiness, we discovered that all of these skin reactions were caused by food allergies.

So when I was pregnant of Baba2, we decided to learn more about baby’s first bath and delaying it, about what is better and safer to use. After all, when she was born we decided to wait until her umbilical stump dropped off to give her first bath. It dropped off in 3 days when it took 15 days for Baba1! We washed her only with water, I used absolutely no product or soap.


So why you should delay Baby’s first bath?


1} Babies Are Born With a Natural Skin Protectant : the Vernix caseosa

Internet picture

Internet picture

What is it? Also known as vernix, is the waxy or cheese-like white substance found coating the skin of newborn human babies.

Vernix is produced during the third trimester and it provides a temporary skin barrier for the watery environment babies live in while in utero. During delivery, vernix caseosa acts as a lubricant while postnatally, it exhibits antioxidant, skin cleansing, temperature-regulating and antibacterial properties.

Research shows that removing vernix is not necessary for hygienic reasons, and leaving it may even provide antibacterial promotion and wound healing. The World Health Organization advises delaying baby’s first bath for 24 hours.

2} Maintain Baby Body Temperature

Guess for an instant how a baby might feel by getting separated to her mum, undressed, then put in the water and get out of it. We all know how it feels to get out of a hot bath or swimming pool, how bloody cold we feel …Babies might like water and being bathed but not for the first few hours of their lives.

Most important, newborns struggle to maintain their body temperature so by delaying their first bath we are helping them to maintain it.

3}Keep Stress Hormones Low and Blood Sugar Normal

Bathing them straight after they are born can put them in a very stressful situation. When they cry it is really tiring for them and It will lower they blood sugar, making them more tired and exhausted for feeds. And if they cannot feed they will get more tired etc…

4} Skin to Skin contact : what a Baby Wants more than anything is to Be Near Mom

skin to skin contact

By not bathing them after birth you let baby stay where she should: near her mum and that leads to the point 5}.

5} Improved breastfeeding & Improved maternal-infant bonding


When is it best to bath baby?


It is up to you but it is best to wait ay least 24 hours {OMS recommandation}.

My advice is to wait until you feel good to do it to fully enjoy this singular momentwith baby. You do not have to rush you can still  top and tail your baby using cotton wool and a warm, damp flannel or sponge.

I prefer to wait until baby’s stump drop off as everytime you bath your baby you are delaying the drying process.

This is what I have done for our new baby who has had her first bath at 7 days old!

And to conclude, it’s up to you how often you give your baby a bath. Newborns don’t need a bath every day, as they don’t get very dirty. Bathing him two or three times a week is fine during the month or so (AWHONN 2013, NHS Choices 2013). Frequent baths may lead to dry skin, depending on what you use in the bath (AWHONN 2013). Extract of Babycentre website

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