When your baby is born they are covered in vernix – a white waxy substance that forms a natural skin protector.
The vernix is said to help your new baby’s immunity, and as with breastfeeding, is a great natural way to promote your baby’s health. It is thought the vernix ‘exhibits antioxidant, skin cleansing, temperature-regulating and antibacterial properties’.
Some say you should wait a minimum of 6 hours before washing your baby, and other places say up to two weeks so the vernix sinks into the baby’s skin.
We didn’t bath our youngest baby until 6 weeks.
In fact, we delayed bathing all of our babies to allow the vernix to soak in.
With our newborn, part of the reason we waited so long was for the vernix, the other was because my newborn was admitted to hospital for a chest infection and brochohlitis. We didn’t want to make this worse, especially as it’s known young babies cannot regulate their temperature well and a bath, especially when ill, can add to your little one’s distress too. We wanted to wait for the first experience to be a fun one that baby enjoyed and one where we didn’t panic about making him more poorly.
Most hospitals don’t offer baths for newborns either, which makes sense if they want to encourage parents to let the natural vernix seep in before washing them with chemical laden soaps.
With my oldest child, she suffered from eczema as a baby, so it made sense to avoid daily baths. We still don’t do baths every day, they always have a wash, of course! Daily baths can dry skin out even more.
When we did do the first bath it was such special time, splashing about, giving them water confidence and just having that switched off time with them. Definitely worth the wait.