Baby’s First Bath - this can be such a special moment for new parents, bonding with their tiny infant, taking in every part of them in a new way for the first time.
*Disclaimer: sometimes baby’s cry through the entire thing, and you get that baby in and out of water as quickly as possible, but we’re going for the best case scenario here.
Sometimes the first bath is offered in the hospital shortly after the birth, but many families are opting to hold out a few hours or days on baby's first bath.
Ick. But aren’t they dirty?
Not really...Baby’s often come out with a bit of blood that’s towel-ed off while they’re handed to mom, and some white, waxy-like substance called vernix, but the short answer is - no.
In the recent past, many hospitals held fast to the ‘germ theory’ of disease, and the first bath was a means of preventing the spread of infectious disease. It’s something that's become tied to culture and tradition, but the practice is now being put into question. Current research is finding that waiting a few days to bath baby can actually be beneficial for many reasons:
Babies who are born vaginally are exposed to microbes that contribute to their Microbiome - this helps build and support baby’s immature immune system, and bathing can eliminate some of this beneficial bacteria from baby’s skin. We’re still uncovering the science in the link between the infant micro biome and long term health implications, but we do know that the exposure to these bacterias are beneficial.
The waxy, cheese like substance that baby's often come out with, called vernix, also has immune-boosting properties, and protects and hydrates the newborns new, delicate skin. Vernix acts as a barrier, and it’s pH balancing properties actually inhibit the growth of bacteria on skin. Rather than washing it off, rub it in like a lotion, or allow it to naturally wear off over time, it won’t take long.
The Golden Hour(s)
The best place for a healthy infant to be is in the warmth and safety of it’s mothers arms, nestled up at her breast, forming a bond and connection that establishes breastfeeding and the ongoing attachment of mother and infant. Skin-to-skin contact has numerous benefits, including regulating baby’s temperature and heart-rate, improved breastfeeding success, and a more stable transition for the infant. Rushing to bathe baby can take away from these precious first hours, and it can be an unnecessary intrusion on this important time.
So how long should you wait?
A minimum of 2-12 hours after birth is suggested, but some experts are suggesting to wait around 48 hours. If your baby needs a little tidying after birth, use a damp cloth and clean the areas that could use some attention, and let yourself enjoy you fresh little squish for those first hours, uninterrupted.
When it's finally time to bath baby...
(Stay tuned for a video explanation to break down bathing-baby, but for now, check out this great explanation HERE)