Why You Should Not Bathe Your Baby After Birth
There are many theories about whether or not you should bathe your baby immediately after birth. Opinions are diverse, but scientific evidence provides a solid answer. Would you like to hear it?
According to studies, you should not bathe a newborn baby in order to leave the vernix caseosa undisturbed. This is a greasy, white substance, sometimes called “cheese,” that covers the skin.
But why is it so important? We’ll tell you!
The Vernix Caseosa and its Importance
The vernix caseosa is a substance that looks like cheese or cream, but dry.
It is formed from greasy secretions of the fetus’ sebaceous glands mixed with leftover dead skin. Water, hair particles, vitamin E and proteins are also found in it.
Many neonatologists believe the vernix is responsible for protecting the newborn’s skin once it is exposed to the outside world. It also acts as a barrier against infections.
It is said that this substance also serves as protection against dryness and dermatitis, to which newborns are prone. And during delivery, it facilitates passage through the birth canal.
Birth represents the beginning of everything. It is the miracle of the present and the hope of the future.
The vernix caseosa helps regulate body temperature, and although it seems counter-intuitive, it also helps maintain clean skin. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from UV damage.
How to Care for a Newborn’s Hygiene
In the first days of life, the essential hygiene practice is frequent diaper changing.
Babies are not born dirty, and when they are placed in their mother’s arms, the neonatologists and nurses who attended to the birth have already cleaned up the remnants of blood. Everything else – including the umbilical stump and the vernix – must go home with you.
Newborns do not need to have their heads washed with sponges or shampoos. Nor do they need to be placed in a bathtub full of warm water or have their ears cleaned.
In the first few days of life, you should only be concerned with cleaning his little mouth after having breastfed and changing his diaper, cleaning his bottom with a wet wipe.
Meconium (the baby’s first poop) can be difficult to clean up. Wet a towel with warm water and soak the dirty area for a few minutes. Then, it will be easier to wipe off the feces without rubbing the skin.
When Should the Baby Get His First Bath?
The baby’s first bath should be given after the first week of life, when the vernix he was born with is no longer necessary. It’s also at this time that dirt, feces and urine can begin to smell bad.
Before that time, hygiene should only consist of cleaning the front and back with a warm, wet towel.
There is no specific day in which to tell mothers: “Today you should bathe your baby.” Everyone is able to know when and how to proceed with respect to the hygiene of their own baby.
However, we must emphasize that the vernix needs to remain during the first days of life. Friction with the baby’s diapers and clothes will help it absorb into the skin until it disappears.
Why You Should Not Bathe Your Baby After Birth
We must finish this article by commenting on the possible problems that may arise if you bathe your child immediately after birth, removing the vernix caseosa with the intention of “cleaning it.”
In this case, know that:
- You will deprive him of an antimicrobial barrier
- You will expose him to infections and pathogens that can enter the body through the skin
- He will be vulnerable to allergies early on
- He may suffer from dermatitis now and in the future
- You will remove a natural substance that maintains the skin’s moisture
- You will expose him to chafing. The vernix caseosa is not easily removed, and rubbing the skin can cause quite a bit of damage.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Salcedo, S; Ribes, C; Moraga, F. Recién nacido: cuidado de la piel. [Documento en línea] Disponible en: https://www.aeped.es/sites/default/files/documentos/recien_nacido.pdf
- Guía de cuidados de la piel del recién nacido y del bebé: recomendaciones basadas en la evidencia y en las buenas prácticas. Matronas Prof. 2013; 14 (4 Supl): 1-50. [Documento en línea] Disponible en: http://www.codem.es/Documentos/Informaciones/Publico/ceedcd4a-5162-43db-ab00-0223cf2127f7/9778a313-3e43-4df2-84cf-27bb1b6bbdd8/5b7f5b61-ca6e-49a3-a9d3-3cb03b54af32/Gu%C3%ADa%20de%20consenso_DEF.pdf
- Visscher, Marty & Narendran, Vivek & Pickens, William & A LaRuffa, Angela & Meinzen-Derr, Jareen & Allen, Kathleen & B Hoath, Steven. (2005). Vernix Caseosa in Neonatal Adaptation. Journal of perinatology : official journal of the California Perinatal Association. 25. 440-6. 10.1038/sj.jp.7211305.