Recommended Period Before Washing Your Baby After Birth

Woman washing new born on the running tap water

Do you Wash Your Baby After Birth? A wait of at least 24 hours is recommended — for a very good reason.

"It's important to remember that babies aren't born dirty," explains Dr. Ira Jaffe, a board-certified maternal-fetal medicine OBGYN doctor in NYC. "The way they're designed to come out is how they should come out."

Babies are born with a white, waxy coating, which convention has held should be washed off sooner rather than later. But this substance, called vernix caseosa, can be beneficial if left on for awhile and we're just now gaining a better understanding of its benefits.

A 2004 study by ACOG's Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology points out that vernix adds a protective layer to the skin, which makes it softer and protects the immune system.

Additionally, vernix and amniotic fluid contain antimicrobial peptides which can guard against bacteria and fungi. A follow-up article by Science & Sensibility points out that pneumonia and meningitis are among the diseases that these agents protect against.

While there is no one standard practice in place for when exactly is best to bathe a baby. The World Health Organization currently advises delaying bathing for at least 24 hours.
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