Should I Give my Newborn a Bath Every day?
That newborn smell is addicting. I remember holding my friend’s child, the first one I ever held, at a few days old, and they smelled like baby powder (or does baby powder smell like them).
It was amazing. I would smell their head all day long. Then I had my own and I sat there for days just smelling his head.
But I had so many questions. When can I wash him, how do I wash him, should I use warm or cool water, rags or sponges, what kind of soap? The questions were endless.
And then I gave him his first bath. I started to at least, and I was so nervous that I called my husband to come in and hold him and do it. He was so little (a little under 6 pounds).
It took a few more times to get comfortable with the idea of giving him a bath. But I managed and now here I am trying to keep the water in the tub when he is taking a shower.
But how often are we really supposed to give babies a bath? How soon after they come home should you do that because they do generally do a sponge bath in the hospital before you leave.
Let’s give some consideration to the frequency, the why’s and what to use to give your baby optimally soft skin and so they stay healthy.
Babies Skin is not Like Adults
Adult skin, even toddler skin, is a lot tougher than newborn skin. Do you ever just rub your fingertips over their arms and legs and realize just how soft it is? Bathing them too frequently can quickly diminish that softness.
Baby soaps, including the ones that are labeled gentle and hypoallergenic, can contain ingredients that essentially strip the skin of its moisture.
You have to consider using less soap and less washing in order to prevent their skin from becoming scaly and dry.
Wait for the Umbilical Stump to Fall off
Unless you are one of the new parents that keep the placenta attached until it dies and falls off (because there is a whole new trend with that, not that it’s recommended) but I digress.
After your child was born, the cord was clamped and cut and then needs to heal.
According to Health Guidance, it can take anywhere from 10-21 days to fall off (although there is some leeway in there for a little shorter and a little longer).
Should you need to actually clean it because your kid managed to have a blowout or pee out of their diaper, then you can clean it with baby safe antiseptic soap.
So while their stump is still attached, if you find you do need to give them a bath, start with the bare minimum. You can sponge them on their necks (spit up), bottoms of their feet, faces, hands, and their private areas to keep those clean with warm water.
You don’t even need soap. Just keep them somewhat clean.
How Often to Bathe Them
Contrary to popular belief, newborns do not need to have a bath on a regular basis. Parents stated that once or twice a week is sufficient for newborns and after a few months you can start to do daily ones but again, they are not necessary.
Even MayoClinic stated that three times a week is enough until they get mobile, and even then, as long as you are thorough with diaper changes and cleaning after they are eating/spitting up, and wiping them down after they are crawling around, then you are in the clear with how clean they really need to be.
Once you do give them a bath you must use some moisturizer as soon as they get out. This will help to prevent them from having dry skin, rashes, cradle cap (although all these things can still happen) and other issues with dry skin.
Soft moisturized skin makes it less likely for them to cut themselves with their nails, or so I believe from personal experience.
Not Bathing them Nightly Doesn’t Make You a Bad Parent
Let’s just get this out there. Some might be reading thinking that in order to be a great parent you have to bathe them every day, start that routine, etc. But you don’t.
My son is 4 and he gets a bath every other night, depending on his activity level. There have been times where we are at three days and I’m questioning when the last time he saw the shower was. But I’m not the only one.
Claire Goss stated that with her third child, he doesn’t necessarily have it happen every night because well, three kids mean a lot of bedtime stories and bedtime routines.
So if you don’t bathe your newborn every day, that’s okay, and it’s actually preferable for their skin. Once they are a bit older, then you can start the nighttime routines with baths, but until then, they aren’t jumping in muddy puddles (oh Peppa Pig references) every day as newborns.
Get the sleep, enjoy the cuddles, and don’t stress. The bath will always be there and giving them one or not will not change the fact that you are doing the best you can. Plus, you are keeping their skin healthier by delaying it.
- Chaunie Brusie via Huffington Post. How Often Should you Bathe Your Baby? [link]
- Thomas Manfredi via Health Guidance. Newborn Belly Button Care. [link]
- See Above #3
- Parents. How Often Should I Bathe my Newborn? [link]
- Mayo Clinic. A Parent’s Guide to Newborn Baths. [link]
- Claire Goss via Babble. I Don’t Bathe my Baby. [link]