Why shouldn’t I bathe my newborn straight away?
When you give birth it’s completely normal to think, let’s get the little baby washed and cleaned for the first time. However, you’ll want to think twice about it before you bathe your baby straight away and here’s why…
Vernix is a white waxy substance that’s present in the final trimester and protects your baby’s skin in the womb. It creates an epidermal barrier that shields the baby’s skin from damage caused by long-term exposure to amniotic fluid.
When your baby is born, vernix plays another important task in hydrating and moisturising their skin. It may also have qualities that can protect your baby from infection in the first few days of life.
Your midwife will advise you to leave vernix on your baby as long as possible. There is no harm to your baby and it’ll naturally disappear after a few days.
When should I bathe my newborn?
Your baby’s first bath is a really lovely experience. Because they get cold quickly, you want the environment where they will be bathed, dried and dressed to be warm. Whilst we want the vernix to stay on until it’s disappeared, you’ll likely bathe your baby for the first time within the first week.
Even now, it’s good to start it as part of a routine perhaps to help them get ready for bedtime. It’s worth noting that you don’t have to give your baby a bath every day at this point, two or three times a week is sufficient. On the other days you can simply ‘top and tail’ them with a damp flannel.
If your baby’s umbilical cord is still attached you’ll want to be extra careful when giving a sponge bath. It won’t be long until it dries up and drops off, between weeks one and three.
Should I use soap on a newborn?
Initially, we’d advise not using soap on your newborn. In fact, you’ll want to avoid soap for the first month. After that point, start using an unperfumed baby soap but remember that you only need to use a little. Too much soap could damage your baby’s skin.
If your baby has long hair, you may consider adding a drop of mild shampoo to their hair, massage it in gently and rinse thoroughly.
When bathing your baby, you’ll want to concentrate on the areas that are typically dirtier than others, where they soil and also where milk congeals in the crucks of their neck and behind their ears.
Be extra careful when taking them out of the bath, babies can be slippery, so have everything you need to hand, including a warm towel from the radiator.
As a final note of caution, never leave your newborn unattended in the bath. It only takes a second for them to get into trouble in water.
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A regular pattern of movements is a key indicator of your baby’s well-being during pregnancy.
Women don’t always know how to recognise a regular pattern of movements for their baby and don’t know what they should be checking for. This leads to increased anxiety. When they do think something isn’t quite right, they don’t feel confident and they doubt themselves so don’t seek advice straight away.
We’re developing a device that will monitor your baby’s movements during pregnancy from 24 weeks onwards so that you can have a better understanding of your baby’s regular pattern of movements.
To read more helpful blogs visit our pregnancy blog.