My Weekly Special


Is it really necessar y anyway, and can delaying that first bath be best?


QMy daughter is very pregnant and the baby is due any day now! It is her second baby and for her first she said she didn’t wash the baby for a couple of days after birth and then only seemed to give it a bath about twice a week. When I had young babies they were washed in the hospital straight away and then a daily bath was part of my routine. Is it OK to not wash them so often?

ACongratul­ations on your upcoming second grandchild and I hope the pregnancy and deliver y are easy and healthy for all concerned. Your question shows how there are trends in ever ything, from fashion to body shape, and even something as fundamenta­l as how often you should wash your baby. When babies are born they tend to be covered in a substance called vernix, a thick sticky white coating which covers the skin and almost looks like cream cheese! It is waxy and has waterproof proper ties so protects the baby’s skin in the womb where it is constantly surrounded by amniotic fluid. It is present in highest amounts in babies born between 38 and 40 weeks. Perhaps it used to be the case that this was washed of f but now not – if anything rub it in – it moisturise­s the skin after bir th and has antimicrob­ial proper ties as

The white waxy coating on newborns is good for them, so let it rub in

well as helping regulate the baby’s body temperatur­e. It is good stuf f! Delaying the first wash for even 24 hours means that the vernix can be rubbed into the skin. You don’t need to bathe your baby daily as it can dr y out the skin. Ever y couple of days until your baby becomes mobile should be sufficient to keep them clean. Of course, nappies should be changed regularly, and although a daily bath may not be needed it is likely that a

‘top and tail’ will be. This involves cleaning the genital area and the face and neck folds, as milk can dribble down the face onto the neck. As they get a little older, and especially once mobile, a daily bath is more likely to be needed and can also be useful as par t of sleep hygiene and winding down for bedtime.

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