Why babies don’t need baths

When my last baby was born, I requested that he’d not be washed/bathed….at all. In fact,  we didn’t bathe him for three weeks.

He had some  vernix caseosa on his skin, which helps protect his skin while in the womb. And vernix is so powerful that it has the immune properties as breastmilk. And studies have found that early bathing of the baby removes vernix, which contains antimicrobial proteins that are active against group B. streptococcus and E. coli. What an amazing protective layer!

Yet babies are usually bathed right after birth. And that amazing protection is washed literally down the drain. And while I didn’t bathe any of my kids right after birth, with my third, I felt compelled to keep him even longer without rinsing off his vernix.  He benefited from this protective layer as long as possible. While three weeks of not bathing may have been extreme, and to be honest we didn’t bathe him because we loved the smell of him, I remember fondly those three weeks he was not bathed. He smelled so good to me and he looked so pure. And in fact, even when we “bathed” him, it was just a few minutes of water with me in the bath and we used absolutely no soaps, lotions or anything else but water.

I guess I just don’t think babies are dirty enough to need real baths. And when we do start with “real” bathing sometime after the first year, it’s usually spot cleaning and the rest continues to be water only. As a result we don’t have rash issues, which are often caused by synthetic ingredients in bathing products. We also don’t ever need lotions, which are used because the soaps usually dry out babie’s skin.

At one point, bathing (or spot cleaning) with a gentle cleanser becomes necessary and for this I encourage you to choose natural ingredients to protect your baby’s gentle skin. My rule is that if you can’t read the ingredients and know what each one is, then it shouldn’t go on your baby’s skin.

Writing this post is bitter sweet, as it reminds me of those first three weeks that my baby kept his vernix. The best, sweetest, most delicious smell in the whole wide world. Sniff.


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