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The First Bath for Newborns: Timing and Benefits of Delayed Bathing

mother giving newborn baby a bath

One of the early decisions parents make is when to give their precious baby their first bath. In recent years, there has been a shift in healthcare practices regarding the timing of this initial bath, with an increasing trend towards delayed bathing. Let's explore the benefits and considerations associated with delaying the first bath for newborns.

The Trend Towards Delayed Newborn Bath Traditionally, newborns receive their first bath shortly after birth, often within the first few hours. However, modern healthcare practices are evolving, and it's becoming more common to delay the first bath for at least 24 to 48 hours after birth.

Benefits of Delaying the First Bath

1. Improved Temperature Regulation Delayed bathing helps newborns maintain a stable body temperature, a critical factor in their early hours of life. 2. Skin-to-Skin Contact Encouraging immediate skin-to-skin contact between the baby and the mother or caregiver is crucial. Delaying the first bath supports this bonding time. 3. Preservation of Vernix Vernix, the white, cheesy substance on a newborn's skin, provides protection and moisturization. Allowing the vernix to stay on the skin supports its natural benefits. 4. Stabilized Blood Glucose Levels Studies suggest that delaying the first bath may help stabilize the baby's blood glucose levels, which is particularly important for those at risk of hypoglycemia. 5. Promotion of Early Breastfeeding Delaying the bath encourages early breastfeeding, aiding in establishing a successful breastfeeding relationship. 6. Improved Microbiome Development Delaying the bath may support the establishment of a healthy microbiome on the baby's skin, contributing to immune system development. 7. Reduction in Hypothermia Risk Bathing a newborn too soon after birth can lead to hypothermia, especially if the environment is not adequately warm.

Important Considerations

  • Healthcare facility policies may vary, and parents should communicate their preferences with their healthcare providers.

  • Immediate or early bathing may be necessary if the baby has been exposed to meconium during delivery or is at risk for infection.

In conclusion, the decision regarding when to give a newborn their first bath is a personal one, and parents should feel empowered to discuss their preferences with their healthcare team. Ultimately, the health and well-being of the newborn should be the top priority, considering individual circumstances and preferences.


Bergstrom, A., Skov, T. H., Bahl, M. I., Roager, H. M., Christensen, L. B., Ejlerskov, K. T., ... & Licht, T. R. (2014). Establishment of intestinal microbiota during early life: a longitudinal, explorative study of a large cohort of Danish infants. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 80(9), 2889-2900. Link

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Hospital Toolkit for Implementing Early Essential Newborn Care. Link

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