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When you become parents and hold your baby in your arms, you realise that there will be lots of things you will learn in this new journey. You will have lots of ‘first experiences’ with your baby. Giving bath to your little one for the first time is one of these experiences. Bathing your baby for the first time may seem a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. You will be all worried about how to take care of your tiny baby while bathing him. But there is nothing to worry, with little practice, you will master that too. If you are still not sure when and how to bathe him, then read this article. Find out why the first bath is often delayed and when should you give him his first bath and some bathing tips.
When Should You Give Your Baby His First Bath?
Earlier, babies were given their first bath right after their birth. But, this practice is no longer followed. As per World Health Organization standards, you should wait for at least 24 hours to 48 hours to bath your baby. There is no hurry to give a bath to a baby, the longer you wait, the better it is. Also, babies do not necessarily require daily baths. It is suggested that one should wait until the baby’s umbilical cord heals completely. However, if as a parent, you still want to give a bath to your baby, you can opt for a sponge bath technique. You can use a soft washcloth to clean your baby’s face, hands, and genitals.
Why You Should Delay Your Baby’s First Bath
Many hospitals practice a standard protocol of waiting for a day or two to give a bath to a baby. It is believed that it is a safe choice for the newborn baby and here are some reasons that support this claim:
1. To Improve the Bond Between Mother and Baby
The first few minutes of your baby’s life are important for developing the bond between the mother and baby. It is observed that babies who shared skin to skin contact with their mothers after birth have better temperature control, better blood sugar levels, and also breastfeed with ease.
2. To Lower the Risk of Infection
A baby is born with a whitish layer on his skin, known as vernix. This white substance is loaded with protein that helps a baby fight various deadly bacterial infections that he may get at birth such as meningitis, E. coli, pneumonia, bloodstream infections, etc. Vernix acts as a shield to protect your baby and bathing may remove this layer and make him prone to the risk of infections. Most hospitals even follow the practice of wearing gloves, which means everyone coming in direct contact with the baby will have to wear gloves. This practice is followed with the object of saving the baby from any kind of hospital-acquired infections.
3. For Better Temperature Control
A baby stays cosy in the womb of the mother, which is at a temperature of around 98.6 degrees. But post delivery, your baby will be exposed to much lesser temperature (70 degrees, in most cases) and hence his body will need to work really hard to keep warm. On top of that, if you give your bathe your baby, it may drop his temperature, even more, and put him at the risk hypothermia.
4. To Stabilize Baby’s Blood Sugar
If you bathe your baby right after a few hours of his birth, it may lower his blood sugar levels. A newborn baby has to adjust to the outside surroundings, the loss of placenta that controls the sugar levels makes it difficult for the baby to adjust in the outside environment. To add to that, if the baby is given a bath, it may stress him, which may lead to the release of stress hormones, and cause your baby’s blood sugar to drop considerably.
5. To Keep Your Baby’s Skin Moisturized
Your baby’s skin needs protection and moisture. Vernix acts as a natural skin moisturizer and saves your baby’s skin. However, bathing your baby may remove this natural moisturizing agent from your baby’s skin. So, it is best to avoid bathing your baby for a few days.
7. To Improve Breastfeeding Experience
Many mothers struggle when they begin breastfeeding their baby for the time. It is seen that women who engaged in breastfeeding session within the first half an hour or one hour after giving birth, had less trouble breastfeeding their babies later. Therefore, it is best to not bathe a baby in the first few hours. In those precious moments, a mother should breastfeed her baby and keep him close to her to strengthen their bond.
8. To Give First Bath to Your Baby Together
You and your partner may want to bath your baby for the first time and be a part of your baby’s first bathing experience. And for that, it is best to delay the first bath, until you take him home. Bathing your baby together is also a special way to bond with your baby.
Therefore, if you are contemplating on how long to delay baby’s first bath, well, you may consider the above-mentioned factors before making the decision or ask your doctor to guide you.
Baby’s First Bath Tips
Before you begin transitioning from sponge baths to normal baths, make sure if your baby is ready for it or not. If he seems to be fussy or cranky, it is best to sponge bath him for a few more days before giving him an actual bath.
Here are some handy tips on how to give baby first bath:
1. Establish the Right Time
It is important to wait for the right time to start giving a bath to your baby. Until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off, circumcision heals, or the naval heals completely, don’t give him a bath. However, you can consider giving him a sponge bath.
2. Make it a Routine
Whatever time you choose for bathing, ensure you give bath around that time only. It helps your baby to understand what he should be expecting next, like in most cases; babies like to take a nap after a bath.
3. Gather All Baby Supplies
You don’t want to leave your baby and get the supplies amidst the bathing session. It is sensible to make a list of things and keep them handy before bathing your baby. Items such as soap, shampoo, baby towel, the baby tub filled with warm-water, blankets etc. are some things that you should keep at a close distance when bathing your baby.
4. Keep it Warm
Keep the room or the bathroom warm enough where you plan to bath your baby because he may lose his body heat too fast. You may run the hot shower for a few minutes before entering the shower or keep the thermostat settings of your room at approximately 75 or 80 degrees.
5. Hold Your Baby Properly
Hold your baby firmly enough to not let him slide away. The soap and shampoo and water may loosen your grip. However, ensure that you hold him firmly with one hand, by placing it under his head and work with soap and water with the other hand.
6. Don’t Use Too Much Soap
Too much soap can make your baby’s skin dry. So, avoid using too much soap on your baby’ skin. Use a soap only to clean your baby’s hands and diaper area. Also, make sure you use mild and hypoallergenic baby soap.
7. Be Gentle on the Genitals
Clean your baby’s private parts with utmost care. Do not rub vigorously, clean gently between the folds. Do not pull back your baby’s foreskin if he is uncircumcised. Also, avoid using soap on your baby’s genitals.
8. Wrap Up Well
Cover your baby soon with a warm towel or cloth after bathing him. Lift him up slowly from the tub and wrap with a towel. Pat dry gently before putting on clothes.
Try these tips and make your baby’s first bath experience a memorable one. We know you want to give your baby his first bath soon, but it is best to wait to keep him safe and happy. When your baby will be ready you can give him a normal bath, however, for a few days, stick to sponge baths.
Also Read: Sponge Bath vs. Tub Bath For Your Baby