There’s nothing as daunting as bathing your newborn baby for the first time. Not only are they so tiny and fragile, you’re also nervous that she’s too cold and wondering whether you’re holding her right so she doesn’t slip from your hands.
Whether you’re bathing your baby for the first time, or even if you’re a second-time-mom, there’s still one question that always comes up: how often should I bath my child?
It has always been best practice to bath baby after delivery, but new research suggests that delaying it can promote breastfeeding and help newborns keep a steady temperature and help with skin development.
Of course, the midwife at the hospital will probably give your baby her first bath, but once you get home, you’ll want to wash your baby only once or twice a week until her umbilical cord stump falls off. Until this happens, don’t submerge your baby into the water. Rather use a warm facecloth to gently wipe her down, from her head and face, working down her body.
If your baby spits up milk, you can gently wipe her down more often, taking care to wipe her delicate face and neck areas. Of course, if your baby has a blowout on the other end, you might have to give her bum a bath to clean her up. But unless there’s a really big mess, you really don’t need to bath her every day at this stage.
1 to 3 months
During these early weeks of your baby’s life, you’ll want carry on bathing her once or twice a week. Once her stump has fallen off, you can give her a more traditional bath in a baby bath or basin filled halfway with lukewarm water. Another tip is to bring your baby into the bath or shower with you – just make sure the water temperature is lukewarm.
3 to 6 months
As your baby grows, it might be time to change her routine . At this age they still only need a bath once or twice a week, but if she seems to enjoy splashing in the water, there’s no real harm in bathing her more frequently. But if you do, consider using a gentle baby soap for only one or two of her baths to protect drying out her skin.
6 to 12 months
By now your baby is getting more mobile and will be starting to eat solids, which can be a bit of a messy affair. While they still only need one or two soapy baths a week, you can give them a sponge bath or put them in a tub to soak and rinse off as messes happen.
You might find that bath time is a good way to help your baby settle before bedtime, so if that works for you, it’s really okay to make a bath part of their routine at this age. But keep it short.
1 to 3 years
Bathing your toddler two or three times a week is enough to keep him clean as bathing every day will only dry out his skin. But if you do want to bath them every day as part of their bedtime routine, it’s okay. Expert advice is to keep it to 5 to 10 minutes long, using lukewarm water and just a little soap or cleanser at the end of the bath to wash them before rinsing and getting them out the tub.
Why you really don’t need to bath your kid every day?
While we’ve been conditioned by modern society to have a bath every day, babies and toddlers simply don’t need to bath as often as adults, according to Dr Scott Norton, Chief of Dermatology at Children’s National in the USA. They don’t sweat or get as dirty in the same way adults do, and their skin is much more sensitive. In fact, he says, “many problems with sensitive, irritated skin are made worse by bathing habits that unintentionally dry out the skin.”
He adds that many skin conditions will worsen if you over scrub your child or use drying, perfumed soaps. “Scrubbing will cause dry, sensitive skin to become even more dry,” he says.
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
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