Photo by Jen_havin_funI've never been in danger of over-bathing my babies. If fact, I'm often stumped to remember when I last gave my daughter a bath.
People are shocked when I tell them I only give her a bath about once a week, as many people I know bathe their baby every night as part of a bedtime routine. We started the once-a-week bath because she had severe eczema, but now that it's cleared up, we really haven't really increased the frequency much (unless she's really messy).
I started to wonder if I should, so I caught up with Dr. Steven Chang, a family physician, to discuss this and some other baby-bathing basics.
How often should babies be bathed?
Babies don't need to be bathed on a daily basis. It's not needed and not recommended. Bathing two to four times a week is sufficient. Anything more than several times a week is probably too much because the baby's skin is a little more sensitive. It could dry out the skin if you bathe them too much, which could potentially cause rashes.
Are there any dangers from not bathing a baby often enough?
Not bathing a child is usually not an issue. You're normally cleaning the parts that need to be cleaned, so when a baby has dirty diaper, you change the diaper and wipe the diaper area clean. When a baby spits up, you wipe up their mouth and their neck. You really want to make sure those areas are clean and dry, especially because there are skin folds in those areas. If they remain moist, you can potentially get fungal or yeast infections.
What are the best products to use for your baby's bath?
No soap is needed. Just plain water is fine. Moisturizers aren't recommended because babies have enough natural moisture in their skin. Moisturizers can block the babies' sweat glands and actually cause rashes.
Any tips for parents of babies who don't like bathtime?
A good compromise is a sponge bath. All you need is a flat surface; you don't necessarily need a tub, just a little container with clean water in which to dip the sponge. Have the baby on the flat surface with a towel, and expose the parts you're going to clean. You want to use warm water; the official recommendation is 120 degrees or less.
How often do you bathe your baby?