Although the standard hospital procedure used to be washing babies immediately after birth, most hospitals today as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) favour waiting out for at least 24 hours before bathing a newborn for the first time.
While it can be quite tempting to give your baby a quick wash and get rid of all the icky substances sticking on their skin and click their oh-so-adorable sweet little baby face, there are a number of reasons why you must consider waiting for a few days.
Vernix: The rich natural protector
Halfway through the pregnancy, your baby starts developing a fine, white, and waxy coating on their skin, known as vernix. This coating is made of skin cells and is rich in protein. In the uterus, it acts as a waterproof barrier against external elements, protecting your little one’s skin. After birth, the vernix continues to act as a strong protective covering for your baby’s super delicate skin, keeping it moisturised and preventing it from drying out on exposure to outside elements.
Drives away infections
When a baby is born, they are exposed to bacteria such as Staphylococci, Clostridium difficile, and E. coli in hospitals. These bacteria can cause several complications such as pneumonia, staph infections, meningitis, and such other infections in the digestive system. It is extremely important to understand that these infections can lead to severe health conditions in newborns.
However, with the natural antibacterial coating of vernix on their skin, newborns remain protected against all bacteria and germs. In order to make sure that this protective layer remains intact, it is important not to rush your baby’s first bath. You can, and you must, in fact, bathe your baby with a gentle, preferably certified organic baby soap regularly after their first bath, to keep their skin and body moisturised and free from germs.
Temperature regulation done right
While your baby is huddled up inside your uterus, they’re probably warm and toasty. Bathing them after birth makes them feel colder than usual. This requires them to use up more energy and oxygen in order to keep their temperature regulated. However, they are not able to regulate their body temperature very well and also do not have the same fat insulation as adults do. This makes them highly prone to catching cold. That is why, it is advisable to avoid giving them a bath right away and let the vernix protect them.
Keeps blood sugar at bay
Newborns often get stressed out on being separated from their mothers and that is why they cry to signal their distress. Bathing a newborn may actually magnify the huge amount of stress that they’re already in and this, in turn, may promote the release of stress hormones, triggering blood sugar levels to drop. So, bathing can wait until your baby is feeding well and not likely to be stressed by the experience.
Giving a tiny, squirmy newborn a bath for the first time is special but quite a nerve-wracking experience too. So, it is important to use only the best products on your baby’s tender skin. Choose from goodness.me’s incredible range of tear-free organic baby shampoo, foam wash and soap to give your little one that perfect first bath!
To sum it up, here’s the bottom line: The longer you wait before the first bath, the better.