If you’re a new or expecting parent, you may have heard the term “wait to bathe” for the first bath of your infant after birth. What does that mean, exactly?
When babies are born, they are covered with a white substance called vernix.
This substance, made up of cells from your baby, have antibacterial proteins to protect your baby from bacterial infections during the birth process and post-birth. It also protects the baby’s skin and moisturizes it. It is very beneficial for the vernix to remain on the baby for a period of time post-birth.
Hospitals that have instituted a “wait to bathe” protocol typically have staff wait between 6-24 hours, depending on the hospital’s protocol, before bathing your infant.
Here is a good run-down of the benefits of waiting to bathe from Children’s MD, a website from Children’s Hospital of St. Louis, Missouri.
In a nutshell, waiting to bathe helps prevent infections, and helps babies regulate their body temperature, their blood sugar and bond with their mother.
If you are interested in waiting to have your infant bathed and the hospital you are delivering at does not have a “wait to bathe” protocol in place, you can always ask to have your baby’s first bath delayed.