Don’t be in a hurry to give your newborn the first bath. If you want your baby to be protected from infections and his immune system to be boosted, here’s a tip. Delay it for a day or two.

And no less than the World Health Organization is all-out for this. It urges moms to delay giving their newborn baby’s first bath to at least 6 hours. Better if they can delay it for a day or 24 hours–just to save the vernix.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK says the same thing. This is because the vernix “is a natural skin moisturizer” and naturally protects the baby from infections during the first few days after birth,  an article on the NHS website says. Well, that is, if the vernix has not yet been removed by bathing.

What’s Vernix?

The Vernix is a waxy substance, white in color, that covers a newborn infant’s body while in the womb. If not washed off after birth, the skin naturally absorbs it. Thus, the need to delay the baby’s first bath for a few hours or days. A recent study suggests that you should wrap it in a vernix film after you have a baby. It was discovered that keeping the film is safe for both mother and baby.

Moreover, new studies have also found that vernix also strengthens a newborn baby’s immune system. Not only so, delayed the first bath for new infants is said to reduce the rate of low blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia, in new babies by almost half. And because you delay the bath, breastfeeding with skin-to-skin contact with mom right after birth is promoted. Some experts say this is more important than the first bath. Mom-and-baby bonding definitely should take precedence over bathing.

In the Philippines, this practice has been encouraged officially by the health department since 2009. Through its program dubbed, “Unang Yakap Campaign,” they urge moms to prioritize skin-to-skin contact between mom and baby over baby’s bath right after birth. What the baby experiences right after leaving the protective environment of the womb is crucial. Will it feel the touch of warm water first or the warmth of a mom’s loving cuddle and her breast milk?

Tradition Versus Medical Findings

When a radical medical finding like this suddenly surfaces and faces public scrutiny, the majority almost always favors the old ways it has been accustomed to. But since most people readily subscribe to what doctors tell them, how this practice will enjoy popularity all depends on doctors, specifically OB-gynecologists. As we have been saying, always consult your doctor first before adopting new practices, including this one.

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