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Breast milk richly deserves the epithet of ‘liquid gold’. It is capable of nourishing the baby both inside and out. Breast milk contains 3 to 5% fat, 0.8 to 0.9% proteins, 6.8 to 7.2% carbohydrates and 0.2% vitamins and minerals. The fat content of breast milk includes fats that are primary ingredients of cosmetics like skin moisturizers, and these fats are highly beneficial for skin and hair. Therefore, a breast milk bath is very beneficial for babies.
What is a Breast Milk Bath?
A breast milk bath is a bath that contains breast milk mixed with the water. Bathing the baby in a breast milk bath is very beneficial for the baby’s skin and helps in healing several skin conditions such as eczema, cradle cap, psoriasis, minor burns, cuts, and scrapes.
Benefits of Breast Milk Bath for Infants
Here are some of the benefits of a breast milk bath for infants:
1. Heals Acne and Spots
Breast milk contains lauric acid which is a fatty acid also found in coconut oil. It has antibacterial properties and can fight-off the acne. It can also help in diminishing spots and discolouration on the skin. Some babies may have acne breakouts as the mother’s hormones are still in the babies’ blood and cause skin problems in the baby. This can be healed by giving the baby a breast milk bath at least twice a week.
2. Moisturizes Dry Skin and Reduces Itching
Breast milk contains Palmitic acid, which is a saturated fatty acid that is an excellent moisturiser. It also contains an omega fatty acid called oleic acid that is found in human tissue. Oleic acid moisturises and heals dry skin, and fights to age. Another constituent of breast milk is vaccenic acid, which protects and nourishes skin. Linoleic acid is another constituent of breast milk that moisturises, lightens spots and minimises inflammation. Thus, a breast milk bath can heal dry skin and reduce itching in babies. Applying a few drops of breast milk can also heal dry, cracked and sore nipples in the mother.
3. Can Heal Minor Burns, Cuts and Insect Bites
Breast milk contains Immunoglobulin-A antibodies that fight off bacteria and cure infections. Hence, a breast milk bath can heal minor burns, cuts, and scrapes. It can also soothe the pain and irritation of insect bites.
4. Can Soothe Nappy Rash and Skin Irritation
The antibodies that breast milk contain can destroy bacteria that cause diaper rash. So, giving the baby a breast milk bath once or twice a week can cure nappy rash and soothe the inflamed skin.
5. Can Treat Psoriasis, Eczema, and Cradle Cap
Although there are no scientific studies that prove it, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence and individually documented experiments that show that breast milk is effective in reducing the symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis, cradle cap, and eczema. Cradle cap is a scaly, yellowish, oily rash that affects the scalp of infants. Gently pouring the breast milk bath water over the infant’s head can help treat this condition. Eczema is a condition where the baby has dry, itchy, red skin which can be cracked and sometimes even ooze blood. A breast milk bath for baby eczema has been found to have beneficial effects on the baby. The breast milk minimises the symptoms of eczema and moisturises the baby’s skin, keeping it soft and supple.
How Much Breast Milk to Use for Bath?
For the breast milk bath to be effective, the water should look milky, but you should be able to make out an outline of the baby’s body below the water surface. For this, it would be ideal to use anything between 180 to 300 ml of breast milk.
How to Make Breast Milk Bath?
A breast milk bath recipe for a baby requires warm water, 180 to 300 ml of breast milk and a baby bathtub. To make the breast milk bath, you can use freshly pumped breast milk or frozen breast milk that has been thawed. Run the warm water into the tub. Pour in the breast milk and swirl to mix until the bath water looks milky.
Put the baby in the bath and swish the water over her neck, face, and limbs. Pour over the head and dab on the face if you are using it to soothe cradle cap or eczema patches on the face.
Can You Use Expired Breast Milk in a Baby Milk Bath?
Sometimes, mothers may pump excess breast milk and freeze it to use later. However, not all of it may get used, and some of the milk may be past the expiry date. Frozen breast milk should be used within 6 months. If it is past the expiry date, the breast milk can be used to make a baby bath with milk. As long as the milk does not smell bad and has not gone sour, it can be used for a baby breast milk bath. However, avoid using the breast milk if it has become mouldy or smells rancid. For itchy skin, mixing breast milk with oatmeal and mixing it in the bath water can be very healing and soothing.
Occasionally, a mother may produce excessive breast milk and may have to express and discard it to prevent painful engorgement of the breasts. In such cases, the mother can express the milk and store it for a breast milk bath later. This way, the breast milk is not wasted, but put to good use to help cure the baby of various skin problems.
Breast milk bath for babies helps treat various skin ailments that affect infants and older babies. The bath can also be prepared with expired breast milk that has not yet become spoiled. The nutrients in breast milk nourish the baby’s skin and ensure it stays well hydrated, soft and supple.
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