Scrub-a-dub-dub! It’s time for your baby’s first bath…but when?

Baby's First Bath

Some parents worry that they need to give their baby a bath right after birth…after all things can get pretty messy during delivery. While you'll wipe off or rub in the vernix (more on vernix in a moment!) in the first few hours after she’s born, you don’t have to bathe your baby immediately. In fact, you should try to wait at least 24 hours before giving your baby her first real bath (or at the very least 6 hours).

What is Vernix?

When your baby is born, she’ll be covered in blood, mucus…and vernix. Vernix caseosa as it’s officially called in the medical community is a thick, waxy white substance that covers your baby’s skin to protect it in the womb and during birth. She’ll shed most of that cream cheese-looking layer before birth. (Preemies often come out coated with it!) This miracle covering protects her delicate skin…just imagine if you were in a bathtub for 9 months! It also acts as a lubricant to help her slide down the birth canal during delivery and offers antimicrobial benefits after birth. Scientists now know that vernix helps to prevent infection and retain heat following birth.

When to Bathe a Newborn

Whether you wipe off the vernix or rub it in, make sure to keep your little one warm afterward, since she’ll lose the heat-retaining quality that it provides. And though it's fine to delay bathing, if the vernix is left on too long, it can become a breeding ground for bacteria on your baby's skin. Bacterial infections are a big danger to babies because of their weak immune systems. During the first 3-4 months of life, you’ll want to take extra care to protect her from the world’s germs!

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