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When & How Often to Bathe Newborn Babies: Every New Parent’s Guide

how often to bathe newborn

After bringing home your bundle of joy – you are responsible for everything related to your baby. The little one depends on you to fulfill even its basic needs. While you are mindful of feeding breastmilk at frequent intervals, you should also not neglect keeping your baby clean. The regular messes like diaper blowouts and spit-ups make it mandatory to bathe the baby. So, a recurring question that new parents have is: How often to bath newborn babies?

Knowing how often to give your baby a refreshing bath is crucial for the sake of health and hygiene. As babies are sensitive and have a weak immunity, you must also learn the right way to give a fragile baby a bath. Also, when is the best time to do it? How can you give a sponge bath and what bathing essentials should you buy? Will getting a baby bathtub make things easy for you? Whatever your doubts, this article covers every aspect of bathing a new baby.

The First Bath of a Baby

Before knowing how often to bathe a newborn, it is crucial to know when to start. As per AAP guidelines for parents, after a baby’s birth, it will be better to wait 48 hours before giving the first bath. If you cannot wait the whole day, at least let 6 hours pass. These are the benefits of delaying the first bath of your baby:

  • It will help your baby keep its body temperature stable and thus prevent hypothermia.
  • It will stabilize the blood sugar levels of the baby.
  • Delaying bath will promote skin development and the baby’s skin will remain moisturized.
  • It will encourage the baby’s bonding with the mother and other caregivers and let it know that it’s safe.
  • The beneficial bacteria on your baby’s skin will be preserved.
  • When you try to breastfeed, it will be easy for you as your baby won’t be stressed.

Most hospitals abide by AAP standards and so, they have a policy in favor of delayed bath.

Why and How to Give Your Newborn a Sponge Bath?

how often to bathe newborn

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, until a baby’s umbilical cord stump gets detached and falls off, the safest way to bathe a baby is by giving a sponge bath. This generally takes 1-2 weeks. You will need the following things to give a sponge bath properly:

  • A flat surface-You have to place the baby comfortably on a flat surface like a firm bed, the bathroom counter, or a changing table. You can even do it on the floor but make sure the baby lies on a towel or blanket. The place needs to be warm so that the baby does not feel cold.
  • A free hand-You should keep one hand on your newborn and the other free hand can be used to give the sponge bath. If you have kept the baby on a changing table, using the safety strap will be wise to avoid accidents. If you are doing it for the first time, you may take the help of a family member.
  • A soft towel or blanket-After you have undressed the baby, dip a clean washcloth in warm water and wipe your baby after wringing out excess water. While you can use soapy water for the body, plain water is recommended for the face.
  • Essential supplies- Before you get rid of the baby’s clothes, keep all the bathing essentials at one place. You will need mild baby soap, fragrance-free shampoo, baby bath towel, a clean diaper, a change of clothes, and baby wipes.

How Often to Bathe Newborn

Doctors generally agree that bathing newborns three times a week is fine. However, this is after the umbilical cord stump has fallen off. Also, there is no hard and fast rule that you must bathe your infant once every 2 days. For instance, if it is winter and your baby is coughing, avoiding bathing is the best option.

So, if you don’t want to bathe your newborn more than twice a week, there won’t be any issue. Just keep the diaper area clean and let those cute little bums breathe from time to time. This way, you can get rid of pee/ poop smell and there won’t be any diaper rashes. Again, each time you burp your baby, there can be spit-ups. This does not mean you need to immediately give your baby a bath. Simply clean the face with baby wipes. These wipes are designed specifically for babies, and they are gentle and fragrant.

But if the baby is smelly, and you notice dirt accumulating in the skin folds, it is probably time for your darling child’s first bath. Moreover, there is no fixed answer to how often should you bathe a baby. As the baby grows, you will see that the baby finds itself in unique messes that will call for extra baths. So, you have to modify the newborn bath routine and select a bath time based on the needs of your baby.

Can You Bath a Newborn Baby Daily?

Babies don’t require baths as frequently as adults. Their skin is sensitive and therefore, frequent bathing might be harmful. It will make the baby’s skin extremely dry and worsen skin conditions such as eczema. If your baby has some skin problems, consult a pediatrician before coming up with a newborn bath routine.

Everything About Bathtubs for Babies

Once the sponge bath stage is over, a bathtub will be necessary to bathe the baby without any hassle. You can use any plastic tub or the sink in your washroom. First, line the tub with a soft towel and gather all the supplies you’ll require. Don’t overfill the tub with water as it will overwhelm the baby.

Skincare Tips After You Bathe Your Newborn

After a bath, your baby’s skin might become dry. Hence, you should not skip newborn skin care after bath. Take a small amount of baby moisturizer and massage it gently all over your baby’s body. The massage will not just keep your baby’s skin radiant and supple but also provide warmth and comfort. If it is Summer and your baby’s sweats a lot, apply baby powder instead of lotion.

Baby Bath Time Best Practices

  •  To avoid disasters, never leave your baby alone in the bathtub even for a minute. Someone must supervise when a baby is in the water.
  • You must check the water’s temperature before immersing your baby in it. If it is too hot, it will lead to scalding. If it is too cold, your baby will be chilled, and it can become sick.
  • A secure hold is compulsory so that the baby isn’t scared, and it does not get hurt. So, support the baby’s neck and head at all times with your nondominant arm. For the first three months, you should be extra careful.
  • Experts recommend that you should always wash the baby’s head and face first, and then proceed downwards.
  • When it comes to choosing a suitable time to bathe your baby, pick a time of the day when you are free and there won’t be any interruptions. While some parents prefer morning baths, others make it a soothing bedtime ritual.
  • You should not be giving your newborn baby a bath immediately after feeding it. Let the food settle in its tummy first.
  • If your baby cries while taking a bath, give your undivided attention and say comforting words. Over time, it will start enjoying baths.

Wrapping Up

The bottom line is to remember that the reason why you should bathe your baby is because cleanliness is important to keep germs at bay. You will notice that when your baby is clean and smells fresh, it will be playful and happy.

And how often to bathe newborn? We have already answered that question. But remember that every baby is different and as a parent, you know what’s best for your precious angel. So, trust your instincts and always keep your baby’s doctor on the loop.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the ideal frequency to bathe a newborn?

Newborn sponge baths two to three times a week is all you need to have a nice-smelling and cheerful baby. You should bath less often when the baby has cough and cold or fever.

Q. Should you bathe a newborn before or after feeding?

Irrespective of how many months your baby’s age is, it is always advisable to bath before meals. Studies have revealed that the process of digestion will slow down if you bathe your newborn baby just after feeding it.

References:

We don’t use any tertiary reference but rely only on studies conducted by medical associations and research institutions.

First bathing time of newborn infants after birth: A comparative analysis – PubMed (nih.gov)

How to bathe your newborn (aad.org)

How Often Should You Bathe Your Baby? (healthline.com)

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