A Newborn Baby Bath, A Harmless Procedure? 08/03/10

Vernix on a newborn

I have found that a newborn baby bath is not the harmless procedure that was once thought and is routinely followed by most hospitals.

We all have seen pictures of newborn babies with a white waxy film all over them. Not pretty by any means, in fact, you would think that washing it off would be the logical thing to do.

However, research has shown that this creamy-like substance on newborns is not only a moisturizer and skin protector but also one of the baby’s best defenses in their new environment outside the womb. In fact, it is called “Nature’s Cold Cream” since it has the same immune enhancing properties of breast milk, thus showing the continuance of development that goes beyond birth.

Vernix contains antimicrobial proteins that have shown to protect against:

  • E. Coli
  • Group B Streptococcus
  • Other infections caused by these bacteria

If we refrain from a newborn baby bath and keep our babies with us after birth we are able to prevent some infections that are caused by these bacteria.

It may not look very pretty but the vernix on a newborn is not only a good moisturizer but also an effective cleanser, anti-infective agent, anti-oxidant, and a wound healer.

We are wonderfully designed and created that the birth process, when left alone, is nothing less than perfect. I am not saying by any means that emergencies don’t happen, and when they do we have a good medical system in place that can save lives. However, for the healthy woman, birth is an essential part of the miracle of bringing a beautiful life to this world.

If you would like more detailed information look here to see the many reputable sources and studies that have been conducted and from which I was able to share with you.

As a side note, I have also heard that not bathing a newborn and rubbing the vernix in is actually quite fragrant, apparently it smells sweet. What do you think? Do you agree with this statement? Feel free to leave a comment. I will be updating this post when my baby is born and I am able to experience this for myself.

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13 Responses to this article


My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

Ada August 6, 2010 Reply

Thank you very much for visiting. Since my blog is fairly new I am trying to post several times a week to get more and more content. I do alot of research anyway, so why not share it. Oh, thanks to your cousin too for recommending me! Contact me anytime.

Melisa August 6, 2010 Reply

Wow, I actually just learned a lot! Thanks for this post. I knew not to give a newborn a bath, but never questioned why. I just knew about the fluid on the hand helps them crawl to and find the breast. I know for me we had it in our birth plan that we would not give our daughter a bath so they never bothered us. We waited until day 3 if I remember correctly LOL. A lot of people thought it was gross, but we knew she would be happier to be able to have that smell for the first few days. She wasn’t covered completely, by the time we were home it was just left on her hands. My SIL had to nearly yell at her nurses to back off because they just kept wanting to give her son a bath. So it might be a good idea to have eveyone know your wishes before hand.

Ada August 6, 2010 Reply

Thank you for reading my post Melissa :-) It was a good idea to include it in your birth plan. I just asked my midwife a few days ago about it and they don’t routinely give newborns a bath at the birth center I am planning to give birth in. Good for you! Oh, and no it’s not gross. It’s not like the vernix will never come off, it only lasts a short time.
I actually just did some research yesterday about the Breast Crawl. I might do some more research and make a post about it, natural birth never ceases to amaze me.

Kelly August 7, 2010 Reply

Wow! I had no idea about the Vernix on a newborn baby. That is so amazing that everything that happens to mommy and baby is there for a reason.
Ada I am so proud of you for going natural in this wounderful experiance. I can’t wait to hear all about it and meet Zury. My prayers are with you and Freddie!
I can’t wait to have my own experiances. :)

Ada August 8, 2010 Reply

Thanks Kelly!! I am so happy to hear that you are one of the few who are not weirded out or anything and that you support natural unmedicated births!

Audrie Dimarzo February 1, 2011 Reply

Hey! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my iphone4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem. If you have any recommendations, please share. Many thanks!


My husband and I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. The pregancy was ectopic and had not been caught during our first ultrasound. I was rushed into surgry and after a month of bed rest I returned to work.I have never been more scared and depressed during that time. Every comment and story has helped me realize that it will get better and eventually everything will be okay. The doctor said we could try again but it wasn’t till two years later when we had our first child.

Thank you to everyone that has shared their stories.


Cori April 25, 2013 Reply

Ok, maybe this is a silly question. While I understand the benefits of leaving the vernix in place, what about all the other “stuff” that baby has on him or her, like blood, amniotic fluid, etc. If you don’t bathe the baby, how do you get all that other stuff off? Sorry if this is naive.

Susan April 25, 2013 Reply

My daughter’s name is Ada. We homebirthed her, and we chose to not bathe her per midwife’s instructions. I’m so glad we did not. She was soft, and the vernix was not gross at all. It came off totally on its own after about a week. Her hair smelled good, and her skin felt soft. It was not sticky or anything like that, just perfect, and she didn’t need a bath since she had not been getting dirty. We did not bathe her until the vernix was gone. Her bottom was always clean since we wiped using wet wipes, but as for a head-to-toe bath, it seemed to me pretty ridiculous to bathe a newborn.

Heather Hill April 25, 2013 Reply

Great post! I’m glad we learned about this before we had our kids. We refused the bath right after birth for our first. I was so excited to give her, her first bath at home, in a nurturing, gentle manner. Have you ever seen how the staff at hospitals bathe your newborns? When we had to stay longer for our second and third children, we insisted on giving them their fist bath ourselves. I wanted to be the first person to bathe our babies! So glad we did :-)

Emily December 29, 2013 Reply

With my first son he refused to breathe when he came out so they whisked him away for a whole 20 minutes (which is a LONG time when you’ve been waiting to hold your baby for almost 10 months). They watched him closer generally our whole hospital stay and did give him a bath on day one. My second son had no issues so he went right on my belly and latched while the cord was still attached! We snuggled like that for quite a while before we even wrapped in blankets. He never got a bath until we came home. Most of the vernix will ‘rub’ off while they are wrapped in a blanket. There is quite a bit of excess. But the thin film left behind is easily rubbed in and I found protected from chaffing. Their skin is so super delicate at that stage. By day 2 you really couldn’t see it anymore except in his little folds (which are so super cute!).
It’s definitely not gross and didn’t have any distinct odor. It just smelled like baby, which is one of the best smells around.

CC December 29, 2013 Reply

All 3 of my kids got their first bath after a month of being born.

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