Baby’s First Bath: Why Should it be Delayed?
When your baby is first born, things can be a bit blurry. Everything happens so fast and it can be overwhelming for you and your baby. One thing that usually happens very shortly after your baby is born is their first bath. Most of the time, the nurses present will take your baby away for their first bath almost immediately after your baby arrives. Often times, there is a misguided belief that babies are born dirty, but really this isn’t the case at all. As it turns out, there are many benefits to delaying your baby’s first bath for a while.
It may seem normal to us now, but bathing a baby immediately after birth is actually very unnatural and can have some serious drawbacks. Learn about the benefits of waiting to bathe your baby so that you can make a properly informed decision about when you want your baby to receive their first bath as well as who will give your baby their first bath.
Sometime during mid-pregnancy, your baby will develop a cheesy white substance all over their skin. This substance is known as vernix. The purpose of vernix in the womb is to help protect baby’s skin in their temporary aquatic environment. During labour, the vernix on baby’s skin acts as a lubricant to help them more easily exit the birth canal and enter the world. Vernix also has amazing benefits after your baby is born which is exactly why you don’t want to rush washing it off. Vernix not only serves to continue protecting your newborn’s skin, but it also provides a wonderful moisturizer as your baby’s skin absorbs it. You can even rub it into your baby’s skin to try to get the full benefits of it.
Avoiding baby’s first bath for a while, especially while you’re still in the hospital can help with your baby’s immunity. The vernix that is on your baby’s skin, as well as any remaining amniotic fluid actually have great immune boosting properties that help prevent your baby from acquiring any form of infection. Since rates of infection are higher in hospitals, it’s a great idea to leave this amazing stuff on your baby’s skin while you’re staying in the hospital.
Better Temperature Regulation
Giving a newborn baby, especially a baby that is only minutes or hours old, a bath can make it much more difficult for the baby to be able to properly regulate their temperature. Being naked and in and out of the water can drop the baby’s temperature and sometimes it’s difficult for them to raise it back up to a normal temperature. A mum’s chest is the perfect incubator for her baby. It actually is able to change temperature as her baby needs to maintain the perfect temperature of the baby.
Better Blood Sugar Regulation
In addition to helping regulate temperature, delaying your baby’s bath can also help them to regulate their blood sugar. When a baby is taken away from its mother, especially directly after birth, the baby can become very stressed and this stress can cause a temporary drop in baby’s blood sugar. In addition to the stress the baby experiences from being away from mum, the bath itself is likely to stress the baby.
Improved Bonding Time
All a newborn baby wants is to be close to its mum. They’ve been snugly cuddling you for their entire lives in the womb and the last thing they want after being born is to be taken away from you to be bathed. The best thing you can do for your baby during that first hour or more is to do skin to skin with your baby. Snuggling your baby up on your bare chest wearing nothing but a nappy is the ideal place for your bub to be after birth. It provides them with all of the security and comfort that they so strongly desire.
Better Success with Breastfeeding
Keeping your baby with you, especially during the first few hours of their life can greatly improve your breastfeeding relationship. It’s important to try to allow your baby to latch and nurse as soon as possible after birth and to continue to nurse them on demand from there. That is the best way to ensure breastfeeding success. The stress your baby would experience from being taken away from you and bathed can also make it harder on them to learn proper latching which is ideal for a successful breastfeeding relationship.
Babies Are Not Born Dirty
Since babies are born with vernix and amniotic fluid on them, people often look at newborns and think that they are dirty and need to be washed right away. This is simply not true. These substances are completely natural and safe – actually, they are extremely beneficial. There is no reason to give a bath to a freshly born little baby. If your baby has any blood on them, you are more than welcome to simply take a wipe or washcloth and clean the blood off of baby. Although, this is unnecessary because even the blood won’t hurt the baby to stay on for a while. It’s more of just a personal preference if seeing the blood on baby bothers you. It can easily be wiped off with no need for a full blown bath to get rid of it.
So, When Should My Baby Get Their First Bath?
When you decide that your baby should get his or her first bath is completely up to you and your partner. Remember that babies aren’t dirty so there really isn’t any reason to rush their first bath. Waiting at least 24 hours gives you many of the benefits of delaying your baby’s first bath, but there is still no need or real reason to do it at 24 hours. Since babies don’t do the many things that adults do to get dirty, it’s perfectly safe and normal to wait a week or even more before giving them their first bath.
Consider Co-Bathing with Your Baby
For your baby’s first bath or even all of your baby’s baths, if you prefer, you can co-bathe. Co-bathing erases many of the drawbacks that come along with bathing your newborn. By being in the bath with your baby, you’re able to help them feel that desperately needed security. Bathing with your baby can help them to feel much safer and more relaxed making bath time much more successful and enjoyable rather than causing stress for your new bub.
Make the Best Decision for You and Your Family
Discuss ahead of time with your partner the many benefits involved in delaying your baby’s first bath. Make a decision together about when and how you want your baby to have their first bath. This way you can plan ahead appropriately. It’s a good idea to have a birth plan and include your decision regarding your baby’s first bath in that birth plan. Let everyone that is involved in your baby’s birth know ahead of time about whether or not you want them bathed right away.
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