How long after birth should I wait to bathe my baby?

Dr. Dina Kulik answers the question that pretty much every new mom is faced with: When should I give my baby her first bath?

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Depending on where you give birth, your baby may be offered a bath before you go home. This old-school practice is becoming less common, because the World Health Organization suggests waiting at least 24 hours after birth to give the first bath in order to keep the baby warm. Otherwise, the timing is up to personal preference.

Mother holding her newborn baby skin to skinWhy you should delay baby's first bath I didn’t bathe my children for a couple of days after birth because some of the substance that coats newborns’ skin (called vernix) has immune properties that may help babies stay healthy. This waxy coating is a natural cleanser and moisturizer, and it protects against infection that could enter through the skin. It also helps regulate the baby’s temperature.

Babies have sensitive skin, so use gentle, hypoallergenic soap and avoid washing them too frequently, as that can lead to irritation and dry skin. Bathing twice a week is reasonable—you’ll be cleaning the diaper area all the time anyway.

Read more:
Newborn care: Everything you need to know about baby grooming
What to look for when buying a baby bathtub

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