If you’re like so many women you find having a bath to be a calm and relaxing experience. You enjoyed it when you were pregnant (even if your belly was never immersed in the water and was always a little bit cold) and now you’re wondering if you can have a bath with your newborn as part of the bonding process.
Ultimately, the answer is “Yes, you can have a bath with your newborn”, however, there are a few exceptions to that rule that you should take into consideration.
Why would you have a bath with your newborn?
There are many reasons why someone would want to bring their baby into a bath with them:
-It provides a lovely skin-to-skin bonding experience. Most often, skin-to-skin happens with a baby’s diaper ON (for obvious reasons) but it’s nice for those tiny tushies to take a break from being diapered. A little baby pee in the bath isn’t going to hurt anyone, but try and time the bath for after a poop because that is less than pleasant. #iknowfromexperience
-The warmth of the bath promotes milk flow. If you’re trying to get your milk going you’ll get the warmth, the skin-to-skin and the oxytocin release from spending intentional time with your baby that will contribute to milk production.
-Having a bath with your baby allows for a muti-purpose experience. Not only are you enjoying the relaxation and bonding mentioned above, but you can also take this opportunity to clean your baby! Make sure you have the soaps you need and a baby wipe within close reach.
-You can get your baby used to water. Eventually, you’re going to want to visit the swimming pool or explore a lake and having a water-loving kiddo is always a bonus in those circumstances.
How do you have a bath with your baby?
Make sure that the bathtub is clean.
Fill the tub with warm water, but remember that your baby can’t withstand the temperatures that you can on their sensitive skin. Feel the water temperature with the inside of your wrist to make sure that it’s not too hot.
Put your baby on the bathmat beside the tub while you undress, and then undress them. Keep a towel underneath them to use when you’re ready to get out. Make sure there’s one handy for you, too!
Get yourself in the bath first, and then reach over and pick up your baby to bring them into the tub.
Avoid chemicals and highly fragranced oils, bubble bath, etc.
When you’re ready to get out carefully place your baby on the towel while you’re still in the bath. Then, get yourself out of the tub.
When can’t you do this?
There are a few times when you shouldn’t have a bath with your newborn:
- The World Health Organization recommends waiting at least 24 hours after birth to give your baby their first bath. This is due to several reasons:
-Your baby is not able to regulate their body temperature quite yet. The differences in temperature between a warm bath and the cold air afterward can cause them to lose their body heat.
-Babies have a coating of vernix and amniotic fluid on them that act as a barrier for infection. Removing this makes them more vulnerable to their environment.
-You’re going to want to enjoy that new baby smell for as long as possible. Not only is it the most pleasant whiff of another human that you’re ever going to take, but it serves a purpose as well; the smell of your baby encourages bonding between the baby and the mother.
2. If you have had a cesarean or if you have stitches in your perineum
You have a wound, and getting into a potentially not-completely clean bathtub can open that wound up to infection. You’ll have to wait approximately 6 weeks to have a bath (amongst other things) until you are fully healed before you can safely head into that bath (make sure to talk to your midwife or doc before doing this). In the meantime, stick with a Sitz bath that goes over the toilet seat that can be sanitized a bit easier.
3. If you’re extremely tired or under the influence of drugs/alcohol/medications that can make you drowsy
You’re probably quite sleep-deprived right now. While it may seem really appealing to have a nice relaxing bath with your baby you need to be very self-aware of your level of consciousness. If you’re feeling really tired or have recently taken something that might be causing drowsiness do not get into the bath with your baby. The warmth, the calm, the quiet…it’s all a perfect mixture for sleepiness. Tragedy could result from you falling asleep in the bathtub while holding your baby so only get into the bathtub if you’re feeling awake and alert.
4. Your baby’s umbilical stump hasn’t fallen off yet. It’s best to give them sponge baths until then!
Ultimately, the decision to have a bath with your baby is dependent on your stage in postpartum, physical circumstances, and most importantly, your comfort level!