The first time I gave my first baby a bath, I couldn't believe they hadn't sent us home with more directions for how on earth we were supposed to actually get this tiny squiggling six-pound bundle clean. We were still in that phase of being utterly terrified of hurting her, so she might have gone quite a while between baths in those early weeks. Thankfully, babies don't need to be bathed very often, but you'll want to look out for these signs your baby needs to be bathed more often, because it can be hard to tell.
If your baby is constantly smelly from spit up or any one of their many bodily fluids, or they really dislike the bath because they don't get in often enough, you might want to increase the frequency of your baby's bath time. The Mayo Clinic recommended bathing your baby three times a week during those early months, and more once they are mobile. And actually, less is more. Most people actually bathe their kids too often, which can actually dry out the baby's skin and lead to eczema, according to Parents Magazine.
So while it's less likely that you're bathing your baby too infrequently (as opposed to to often), if you notice these signs, you might want to get that baby in the tub a little more often.
While young babies don't exactly get into much dirty mischief, they do have quite a lot of bodily fluids that can make them stinky. What's more, they have a whole lot of creases to hide those bodily fluids. If you're not careful, those creases can get quite smelly. What to Expect suggested, "a gentle but thorough washing and careful and attentive drying" can keep the stink away.
2They Frequently Get Diaper Rash
While you don't want to be introducing more moisture to the scene when your baby has a diaper rash, you do want to make sure the area is clean and clear of anything leftover from their diaper. WebMd suggested, "Gently wash the diaper area with warm water and a soft cloth. Rinse well and dry completely.
3They Hate The Bath
There can be a whole host of reasons that your baby doesn't like baths, but one of them can be that they're just not used to taking one. Ensure the temperature isn't too warm or cold for your baby (the water and the room), and add a few toys, even if your baby is only old enough to chew them. Keep trying to introduce your baby to the bath, advised What To Expect, and while it might not happen over night, they will hopefully get used to it soon. "Be patient, and before you know it, your baby’s bath time will become a treasured part of her day," reassured the site.
4They're Fighting Bedtime
If your baby has been fighting bedtime and needs a more soothing bedtime routine, you might consider adding an evening bath to the mix. "People think baths or showers wake you up, but they actually raise your body temperature to make you sleepy,” parenting coach Tammy Gold told The Bump. However, you do need to make sure you don't over-bathe your kid and dry out their skin, so maybe save this move for those especially fussy nights.
5Your Baby Is Wound Up
Sometimes babies just get a little overdone, and just like baths can be soothing at bedtime, they can be soothing at other times as well. Tiffany Field, a developmental psychologist and director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine told U.S. News and World Report that when parents rub their baby's skin it stimulates the vagus nerve, "It slows down the physiology, so it slows heart rate, it slows blood pressure, it changes brain waves in the direction of relaxation." Making a bath is a good option if your baby seems to be overstimulated or needs a way to calm down after a hectic day.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.