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Did you know that daily bathing is not only unnecessary but can also harm your baby?
Many parents think that washing their child every day is extremely important for both his/her hygiene and overall health.
But here’s the kicker:
Baby’s skin is entirely different than that of a grown up. It is much more sensitive and prone to dryness. So whenever you wash your infant, natural oils are being washed off, which can lead to irritation and even rashes.
So, when, where, how soon and how often to bathe newborn?
The answer to these questions depends on your child’s age.
- The First Weeks
- Newborn to 6 months
- Older babies – 6 to 12 months
- Some practical tips
The First Weeks
First off, when you bring your newborn home from the hospital, they are not ready for their first bath just yet. It will take approximately 1 to 3 weeks for the stump of the umbilical cord to fall off and mend properly.
In the meantime, you can give your infant partial sponge baths while keeping their stumps protected and dry. Even so, you shouldn’t overdo it – even sponge baths should be limited to 1 to 2 times a week. Bathing your newborn too frequently can lead to skin dryness.
Overall, newborns don’t get very dirty, so cleaning your baby’s bottom and genitals during each diaper change should get most of the job done.
Newborn to 6 months
You are now free to give your kid a full bath for the very first time! The umbilical cord stump has already fallen off and healed nicely.
But here comes the tricky part!
Because they are so tiny and slippery, bathing your newborn can be intimidating! Until you get into a routine, it may be a good idea to have someone help you out.
The easiest way to bathe a newborn is using either you sink or an infant bathtub with a couple of inches of warm (but not hot!) water.
While for most babies bathing quickly becomes a pleasant adventure, some will cry and squirm at first. This is nothing to worry about, as bathing is a new experience that takes some getting used to.
Newborn’s skin produces very little oil, so a quick hair wash once a week is more than enough. In children with cradle cap, hair should be washed more frequently, with a mild moisturizing shampoo.
Older babies – 6 to 12 months
How often should babies bathe during the second six months of their life?
During this period of your child’s life, you will notice many significant changes. Your kid will start crawling, standing and maybe even walking!
Also, this is the time when children will begin trying out different types of food. They might even take a bite or two from your plate during dinner.
As a result, your little one will need to be washed more often – about 3-4 times a week.
Growing up, babies become increasingly active, and it can be challenging to keep their attention. This is where interactive bath toys such as stacking cups, sprinkling, and squirting toys can prove useful.
Since toddlers are very active and curious, they need to be bathed more often compared to younger babies.
When your child becomes a toddler, you will need to start using the regular tub. You can now bathe your child daily or every other day.
Some practical tips
Although bath time with a newborn can be a challenge, there is no need to be anxious. With some practice, you will learn how to ace baby-washing routine.
Here are some tips and tricks that will help you enjoy bathing your little one:
1. Choose the right time
Whether it is in the morning or before bedtime, choose a part of day with minimum interruptions.
Some babies enjoy morning bathes when they are still fresh and full of energy. Bathing can also become a bedtime routine. Warm water can soothe your baby before going to sleep.
Generally speaking, the best moment for a bath is between the meals, when your baby is neither hungry nor too full.
2. Be patient!
Bathing a baby properly takes patience. It is crucial that you’re entirely focused and can devote enough time to your child without getting nervous and frustrated. Wash the baby gently, yet thoroughly. This is where planning ahead of time makes all the difference.
3. Turn off your phone/TV!
This is not the time to be taking phone calls or checking what’s new on social media. Not paying attention to your baby while he/she is in the bathtub can be extremely dangerous!
4. Make sure you have everything you need
Before putting your newborn in the bathtub, make sure you have all the bath time essentials within arm’s reach. A sponge, a towel, shampoo, body wash, and other necessary supplies should all be close by.
5. Keep your baby warm
Only expose the parts of baby’s body you are currently washing. This way, your baby will always be warm.
Use 2-3 inches of warm water and keep the bathroom heated.
6. Hold onto your child firmly
Wet, wiggling infants can be surprisingly slippery. This is why you need to make sure you are holding onto your baby at all times. Use your non-dominant hand to support the baby’s head and neck.
7. Use naturally moisturizing ingredients
This is especially important if your child has skin inflammation or cradle cap. Natural ingredients, such as shea butter, jojoba, and colloidal oatmeal are known to ease skin irritations and even relieve eczema.
The bottom line is, the longer you postpone the first bath, the better. The benefits include:
- keeping skin naturally moist,
- increased bonding time with mother,
- better temperature control and
- improved breastfeeding.
How often you bathe your child depends on your personal preference. Some babies love spending time in the water, so bathing can become a fun and relaxing ritual.
On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that you need to wash your baby every day. Too much rubbing and exposure to water can dry and even damage the baby’s delicate skin.