To Bathe Or Not To Bathe?
Maybe you’ve had cold feet when it comes to bathing your newborn. Good news: You don’t need to feel bad, because it’s actually not all that urgent. In fact, there are some compelling reasons to hold off on bathtime in the beginning.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson Whitney Casares, MD, MPH, FAAP, author of The New Baby Blueprint.
“Babies don't need baths in the first few weeks of life. They just don't get that dirty. We should obviously clean their bottoms when they poop and spot clean their skin if they get spit-up in their crevices, but otherwise, letting a baby's skin acclimate to the outside world for a few weeks without a bath is better. It promotes umbilical cord healing and reduces contact with potential irritants. I advise my patients to wait for a full bath until several days after the umbilical cord falls off, usually around the one to two-week mark.”
Comforting, right? Plus, if you’re reading this in those first few weeks, there’s a good chance you need the scrub down more than your baby. So give yourself a real shower, take a relaxing bubble bath and use all the soaps and lotions. As for your newborn, keep it simple by skipping the bath, but wiping your babe thoroughly at every diaper change. Once a day, use a warm, damp washcloth (no soap necessary) to gently clean those impressive neck folds and both sets of cheeks. This second part you might opt to do before bed, because it’s never too soon to start building a soothing bedtime routine (you will want to have it on lockdown by toddlerhood).
If this spot cleaning approach doesn’t quite do it for you and you want to go the extra mile, you could consider a sponge bath, which has all the bells and whistles of a regular bath (there’s more water involved, every body part gets washed), while still respecting the cardinal rule of newbie-bathing: don’t submerge that umbilical cord stump! Just remember that though the sponge bath might appeal to your overachieving tendencies (we see you, Virgo), it should not be done more than three times a week, as newborn skin is delicate and prone to dryness and irritation.