Now that you’re a soon-to-be or new parent, you might be wondering how to navigate bath time! I think we can all agree that there’s nothing cuter than a baby splashing around in the tub. However, parents don’t need to bathe their babies as often as they might expect. Although many older children and adults shower daily, frequent bathing can actually dry out and damage your little one’s skin. From newborns to toddlers, let’s dive into how often you should bathe a baby to keep their skin healthy and happy!
Your baby’s first bath
After your baby is born, it’s best to wait at least 24 hours to give them their first bath. Some even recommend delaying their bath for up to 48 hours. So, why the delay? Well, when your little one emerges from the womb, they’re covered in white coating called the vernix. This barrier helps regulate their body temperature and keep their skin moisturized. The longer the vernix stays on, the healthier their skin will be. Delaying your newborn’s first bath also allows you to spend more quality skin-to-skin contact time together and form a deep, loving bond.
After their first bath, infants only need one to two baths a week. Sponge baths are a great way to gently bathe your little one during the first month. Extra baths should only be given if absolutely necessary (spit-ups, diaper messes, etc.). In this case, just focus on the area of the mess — no need to thoroughly bathe their whole body!
During their first half of their first year, continue to bathe your baby sparingly. One to two baths a week should do the trick. After three months, it’s okay to bathe them three times a week. Although they don’t necessarily need it as they aren’t very active yet, it won’t do any harm. Still, use a gentle soap and a natural, fragrance-free lotion to keep their skin hydrated. Keep baths brief (i.e., less than 10 minutes) as excessive soaking can draw moisture out of their delicate skin.
After your baby celebrates their first half birthday, they will begin to get more and more active. Babies typically begin crawling between months 6 and 13, while walking can begin as soon as month 8! Regardless of the milestones your baby hits, expect lots more movement. And with more movement comes more baths! While you should still aim for 2-3 baths per week, they will likely need extra tub time on occasion. Since they’ll be sitting up, you will also want to start using a baby bathing tub.
Once your baby reaches 12 months old, they’re officially toddlers! At this age, experts still recommend bathing your child 2-3 times a week. But as most of us know, toddlers can get dirty a great deal faster than a 6 month old. Use your best judgment in deciding whether or not you need to bathe your child every day. Remember, full-on baths aren’t always necessary. You can wash your child’s face and genital area more often than you would their whole body.
Why are less frequent baths best for babies?
Every time you bath your baby, the water strips moisture out of their skin. While these effects can be minimized by using gentle soaps, lukewarm water, and brief baths, it’s best to bathe your child sparingly. Frequent cleansing also disrupts their skin microbiome, the natural balance of bacteria on the skin’s surface. When this gets disrupted — especially in the first few months of life — it can harm their immune responses and increase their likelihood of developing certain allergies.
How can you keep your baby’s skin clean between baths?
The areas that tend to need cleaning between baths are the face, neck, and genital area. During every diaper change, cleanse the area with a gentle, moisturizing product like NOLEO 3-in-1 Diaper Cleanser and Moisturizer. This will help keep their diaper area clean without damaging or drying out the skin barrier. NOLEO 3-in-1 is also certified microbiome-friendly by MyMicrobiome, so it will help preserve the balance of good bacteria on the skin between baths. After your baby drools, eats, or spits up, wipe down their mouths, necks, and faces. Dried saliva and milk can irritate their skin and cause rashes if not wiped away frequently. Use a dry or damp cloth and use a gentle touch, making sure not to rub too hard.