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Exploring The Benefits Of Delayed Bathing For Newborns

Exploring the Benefits of Delayed Bathing for Newborns


The practice of bathing newborns immediately after birth has been a long-standing tradition in many cultures. However, recent research has shed light on the potential benefits of delaying the first bath for several hours or even days. This article delves into the scientific evidence supporting delayed bathing and explores its implications for newborn health and well-being.

Physiological Benefits

  • Preservation of Vernix Caseosa: Vernix caseosa is a waxy, protective substance that coats the skin of newborns. It contains antimicrobial peptides, antioxidants, and growth factors that play a crucial role in protecting the baby’s skin from infection and promoting its development. Bathing immediately after birth can strip away this protective layer, increasing the risk of skin irritation and infection.
  • Maintenance of Body Temperature: Newborns have difficulty regulating their body temperature, and bathing can further cool them down. Delaying the first bath allows the baby to adjust to the outside environment and maintain a stable body temperature.
  • Reduced Stress: Bathing can be a stressful experience for newborns, especially if they are not handled gently. Delaying the first bath gives the baby time to bond with their parents and adjust to their new surroundings.

Immunological Benefits

  • Enhancement of Immune Function: Studies have shown that delayed bathing can enhance the baby’s immune system. The vernix caseosa contains immune-boosting substances that help protect the baby from infection. Bathing immediately after birth can wash away these substances, potentially weakening the baby’s immune response.
  • Promotion of Skin Microbiome: The skin microbiome is a complex ecosystem of microorganisms that live on the skin. These microorganisms play a vital role in protecting the skin from infection and promoting its health. Bathing immediately after birth can disrupt the skin microbiome, increasing the risk of skin problems.

Other Benefits

  • Improved Bonding: Delaying the first bath allows parents to spend more time bonding with their newborn. Skin-to-skin contact during bathing can promote bonding and help regulate the baby’s body temperature.
  • Reduced Risk of Jaundice: Jaundice is a condition that causes the skin and whites of the eyes to turn yellow. Bathing immediately after birth can increase the risk of jaundice by removing bilirubin, a substance that is broken down in the liver and excreted through the skin.
  • Lower Risk of Allergic Diseases: Some studies suggest that delayed bathing may reduce the risk of developing allergic diseases, such as eczema and asthma. The vernix caseosa contains substances that may help prevent the development of allergies.

Guidelines for Delayed Bathing

  • Optimal Timing: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends delaying the first bath for at least 12 hours after birth. However, some experts suggest waiting even longer, up to 24-48 hours.
  • Exceptions: There are some exceptions to the recommendation for delayed bathing. If the baby is born with meconium-stained fluid, they may need to be bathed sooner to remove the stool. Additionally, if the baby has a skin infection or other medical condition, they may need to be bathed more frequently.
  • Sponge Baths: If the baby needs to be cleaned before the first bath, a sponge bath can be used. This involves gently wiping the baby’s skin with a warm, damp washcloth.


The practice of delayed bathing for newborns has numerous benefits, including the preservation of vernix caseosa, maintenance of body temperature, reduction of stress, enhancement of immune function, promotion of skin microbiome, improved bonding, reduced risk of jaundice, and lower risk of allergic diseases. While immediate bathing may be necessary in certain cases, delaying the first bath for several hours or even days is generally recommended to promote the health and well-being of newborns.

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