Q&A With Dr Aliya: Why You Should Wait To Bathe Your Baby

Why it is so important to delay bathing your baby after giving birth

Q.  I’m set to give birth in a few days and it seems there’s always something else to think about! My sister-in-law suggested that we wait a few days before giving our newborn baby a bath. Isn’t this unhygienic for the baby after passing through the birth canal?

A. Actually, babies are not born dirty. Yes, they have a waxy whitish coating, called vernix caseosa, but it’s an amazing natural skin moisturizer and cleanser for baby. In utero, the vernix develops in the last stages of pregnancy and offers the baby protection from the surrounding amniotic fluid. This coating, containing antimicrobial proteins, also guards against group B strep, E.coli and other common post-natal pathogens. 

Generally, there should be no rush to have your newborn bathed after birth. Most nurses and hospital staff respect and honour parents’ requests to delay bath time.

A 2010 study found that delayed newborn baths from 2-4 hours to at least 12 hours after birth was associated with increases in exclusive breastfeeding rates. This may be due to the increased bonding time between mother and baby post-birth, which allows breastfeeding to be established. 

A towel rub is sufficient to remove any amniotic fluid, blood and meconium. You may also want to use a washcloth to wipe your newborn’s face, head and hair.  Remember to wipe eyes from inside to outside using a different clean washcloth.

So, yes, your sister-in-law is right: delaying your baby’s first bath is a healthy choice that many parents choose.

Do you have a question for Dr. Aliya? Send an email to editor@babypost.com with Dr. Aliya in the subject line and check back every Thursday to see what Dr. Aliya is writing about each week!

A health practitioner, chiropractor and acupuncturist with a distinct integrative care approach, Aliya brings extensive experience in pre-natal and pediatric wellness to her clinical practice at Restore Integrative Health in Toronto.She is also a runner, yoga instructor and new mother.

Visit her website at draliyavisram.com or follow her on Twitter @DrAliyaVisram or on Instagram @DrAliyaVisramDC

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