The Baby Bath Can Wait

By Margie Bridges, MN, ARNP, RNC-OB Perinatal Clinical Nurse Specialist

There are lots of articles and opinions about when a newborn’s first bath should be, and why we should leave newborns’ vernix on their skin.  Vernix is the whitish, waxy substance on newborn skin.  It has many protective benefits and research studies continue to reveal more about its special properties.

If you are already aware of the reasons to delay baby’s first bath, you will be relieved to know that Overlake agrees. We’ve analyzed the studies, too.  When babies are born here, we dry them and then make sure they get right down to the very important business of snuggling and bonding with Mom. The first six hours are an important transition time for newborns, and that is why the bath can wait!

And for those who haven’t heard this before, here are our top 5 reasons to delay baby’s first bath.

Our top five reasons to delay the first bath

  1. More uninterrupted bonding time with mom during those important first hours
    Newborn babies want to be as close to Mom and Mom’s breasts as possible. Being skin-to-skin with Mom, where he can hear, smell, and feel her, is an important source of comfort for new little ones, and releases important recovery hormones in mom.
  2. Baby stays warm
    Brand new babies have to figure out how to maintain their own body temperature. It takes a little practice.  Mom's chest is the perfect place to keep baby's temperature level.  An amazing fact is that Mom’s chest will heat up or cool down to help baby stay at just the right temperature.
  3. Baby’s blood sugar stays stable
    Stress can affect a baby’s blood sugar – another system that he is just learning to keep level. By minimizing potential stressful events and keeping baby close to Mom, he is better able to regulate all of his body systems and maintain his blood sugar where it should be.
  4. Baby starts breastfeeding more easily
    By now, you can probably guess why this is.  It’s because of being able to spend more time skin-to-skin with Mom, of course.  The first hour after birth is sometimes called the “golden hour.”  The fewer interruptions of mom and baby’s bonding and snuggling during the golden hour, the better.
  5. The vernix helps prevent infections and form immunity
    Recent research shows that vernix has immune properties.  By leaving it on baby's skin, she has a layer of protection while her immune system is building. That layer is also an excellent moisturizer, keeping baby's skin soft and supple.

Tags: Baby bath, first bath, vernix, tips & advice

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