When I was expecting my first baby, I loved stocking up on all the adorable bath gear. I mean, does it get any cuter than a faux-fur bunny bath wrap? But, when the time came to actually bathe my newborn, it was not the dreamy bonding experience I had anticipated. Lifting a fragile, slippery baby was stressful, and there were some tears (and maybe not just from baby). That's why I've rounded up 5 things you didn't know about your baby's first bath, because it's important to go in with the right attitude and expectations.
Before jumping right to the first time you bathe your baby at home, it's worth noting that there some important things to know about your baby's first-ever bath, which is usually done at hospital after birth. You may be keen on getting the strange-looking white stuff, known as vernix, off but best practices have started to shift on when that first bath should take place, according to Elizabeth Smith and Terriann Shell, writing for the International Childbirth Education Assocation (ICEA).
In fact, several organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), now recommend delaying the first bath. "Bathing should be delayed until 24 hours after birth. If this is not possible due to cultural reasons, bathing should be delayed for at least 6 hours," according to guidelines on maternal and newborn care from the World Health Organization.
It turns out that delaying the baby's bath and leaving the vernix on the skin is beneficial for a whole lot of reasons, including helping to reduce the risk of infection, stabilize infant blood pressure, improve temperature control, improve maternal-infant bonding and breastfeeding, and more, according to Children's MD.
However, each hospital follows their own protocol when it comes to when your baby is bathed. If you want to delay the process, you may need to speak up and have a note added to your chart (I did)! And when the time comes for you to start doing bath time on your own, here are five things you'll want to know before plunging in.