Taking your baby home is an exciting experience. There are many ways to bond with your baby once it’s at home with you. One of these bonding methods is giving your baby a bath. Bathing your baby can be a little scary and challenging at first, but with some practice, you’ll be able to do it well in no time.
Banner Health recommends waiting at least six and up to 24 hours after birth to bathe your baby for the first time. Waiting before giving your baby its first bath can help maintain their body temperature and blood sugar, it maintains the skin-to-skin bonding time between mom and baby while also preventing their skin from drying out.
Swaddle bathing is gaining popularity as a new way to give your newborn baby's first bath. Swaddle bathing replaces the typical sponge bath given to babies in the hospital after 24 hours. This bathing concept combines bathing and swaddling to soothe babies as it mimics the feeling of being inside their mother’s womb.
When given a swaddle bath, the baby is loosely wrapped in a dry hospital swaddle blanket. Both baby and blanket are immersed in a warm infant tub up to the baby’s shoulders. The baby’s limbs are individually unwrapped, scrubbed, and wrapped again before moving on to the next one.
Swaddle bathing has a few benefits for newborn babies as it addresses their developmental needs. Studies have shown that swaddle baths help stabilize babies’ body temperatures, glucose levels, energy levels and they’re less likely to cry during the bath.
After their first bath, newborns don’t need to be bathed every day as they’re not getting dirty enough yet for a full bath. We recommend only giving your baby sponge baths until their umbilical cord falls. Typically, the umbilical cord falls off after about eight weeks. If your baby’s umbilical cord has not fallen off after eight weeks, talk to your doctor.
If you’re nervous about giving your baby their first bath at home, we recommend making their first few baths a three-person affair including the baby, the person giving the bath and someone to supervise and assist if necessary.