No bath, for several days!? Say it isn't so!!! Dirty babies everywhere!!

Growing birthing trend sees new mothers putting off bathing their newborns after birth - sometimes for SEVERAL DAYS - and doctors agree on its benefits

  • Delayed bathing and leaving the white, waxy coating - called vernix - on a baby for a period after birth keeps newborns warm and skin moisturized
  • Research also shows that moms and babies shouldn't be separated after birth for bathing because skin-to-skin contact helps mothers de-stress

By Valerie Siebert For

Published: 16:32 EST, 30 December 2015 | Updated: 16:39 EST, 30 December 2015


New mothers are putting off bathing their babies for up to several days after birth in a trend that is becoming increasingly mainstream.

The basis of the practice is the preservation of the vernix - the white, waxy substance fluid that coats a newborn's body in the womb to protect it - after birth to improve baby-mother bonding and help the start of breastfeeding. 

According to SheKnows, doctors agree that a baby is not necessarily born dirty. 


Put it off: A rising birthing trend sees mothers delay bathing their newborn babies to maintain the waxy coating they develop in the womb 

Women who have delayed bathing - some up to ten days - report that their little ones kept up their 'fresh baby smell' for days and that their skin felt smooth and healthy long after. 

Vernix, which coats a fetus at just 18 weeks in a pregnancy, is primarily made up of waxy, moisturizing sebum and sloughed off skin cells from the baby. The substance protects the baby as it grows and even helps the baby come out of the birth canal easier.  

 Doctors agreed that a baby is not necessarily born dirty

However, it's benefits don't top there. Once outside of the womb, the substance can continue helping moisturize the baby's skin, keep it warm and even protect against infection. 

Laurie MacLeod, a midwife at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told SheKnows that: 'The vernix does not need to be wiped or washed off. It has been shown to contain immunities in it to help strengthen baby’s immune system and helps to keep the skin nicely moisturized. It can just be rubbed off by the parents.'

Similar to other birthing trends on the rise including seeding and delayed cord clamping, delayed bathing is a practice meant to give babies the best start in life - and has research to back it up. 

Natural look: Vernix is the white, waxy substance that grows over a fetus from 18 weeks until birth

But this isn't the only reason to put off bathing - at least while mom is still in the hospital. Recent research states that skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth is beneficial to both mom and child. 

According the Kay Johnson, CNM at Atlanta Birth Care, the separation of the baby from its mother can have negative effects on anything from the mother's mental state to the child's transition to breastfeeding. 

Research recently presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition in October reveals that skin-to-skin contact post-birth helps reduce mothers' stress levels.

When it comes to just how long a first bath can wait, the World Health Organization claims that parents can help their new arrival keep warm 'by delaying the baby’s first bath to after the first 24 hours, practicing skin-to-skin care, and putting a hat on the baby'.

Knowing this, hospitals honor a parent's request to delay the bathing of newborns, with many parents going on to put off a wash for half a week - or sometimes more.  

Dr. Deepak Patel of the online health portal iCliniqsays told SheKnows that there really isn't a reason at all to bathe a baby right away. 

'I think that a time period of at least six hours in a hot climate and at least 24 hours in a cold climate should be given to the child for bathing,' he said.

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