Congratulations on your new or soon to be bundle of joy! Becoming a parent is one of the greatest blessings in the world. But many of us get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information out there. From the first second after the birth of your little one, you’re thrown into a whole new experience that no parenting book can really prepare you for. That’s why we’re here to clear up your big parenting questions!
One of the biggest questions that parents have right off the bat is when — and how — to give their baby their first bath. Since they come out not looking the cleanest, it’s only natural to wonder when their skin becomes that soft, marshmallowy perfection that we all know and love. Never fear — we’ve got you covered! Here’s everything you need to know about when and how your baby’s first bath should go down.
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. Typically, your nurse or doctor will bathe your baby for the first time in the hospital. This is a great time to ask them all of your burning questions about baby bath best practices. If you have a home birth or need to give your baby their first bath at home for another reason, still try to delay their first bath for as long as possible.
Why you should hold off on your baby’s first bath
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.
How to give your little one their first bath
For your baby’s first wash, a sponge bath works great. You can work near or in a sink or a baby tub — just ensure that it’s a small vessel that gives you lots of control. The last thing you want to risk is your little one slipping out of your grasp!
After their first bath, infants only need one to two baths a week. Sponge baths are also a great way to gently bathe your little one during the first month, not just for their first time. 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!
Can you bathe your baby before the umbilical cord falls off?
Yes! However, you’ll want to work around the umbilical cord so you don’t disturb it and keep it as dry as possible. This is another reason why sponge baths are best for newborns. Avoid soaking your baby in the tub until the umbilical cord falls off. Keeping it dry will allow it to heal well and fall off naturally. Plus, newborns don’t get all that dirty (they don’t sweat like we do!), so sponge baths should be perfect for targeting localized messes like spit-up and spills.
The main takeaway here is that the longer you wait to give your baby their first bath, the better their skin will develop! Once it is time to bath them, a sponge bath will do the trick. Try to keep their umbilical cord dry to help with optimal healing. If you’re ever in doubt, ask your doctor or pediatrician about their recommended tips for bathing your newborn.