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When can I bath my premature baby?

Babies that are born prematurely can seem like they are a hundred-years off being bathed. But the nurses on the NICU will make sure that as soon as possible, you’ll be able to bathe your little mouse. They can often get a bit cheesy in the incubator, so there will be options for you to “top-to-tail” your little one, sometimes with sterile water (please clarify this with your NICU). 

How you'll bath your premature baby

If baby’s umbilical cord is still attached, it's best to just sponge bath them. Premature babies have very delicate skin, and don’t need a bath everyday. They can get very dry skin, so bathing them every two-to-four days is more than sufficient. How often you bath your premature baby will depend on how early they were and how delicate their skin is. For the first few months, clean plain water is best to wash your babies skin with - this includes for nappy changes, so you can use clean water and cotton wool. 

The NICU’s that I have worked in tended to work towards discharge as the time that you would start thinking about bathing your little one. They need to be able to maintain their body temperature - so they would be in an open cot, with no heated mattress. The nurses will speak about ‘parentcraft’ with you, but if you think your baby is ready for a bath and matches the criteria, then mention it to them and I’m sure they will facilitate this exciting experience. 

Keeping your premature baby warm after a bath

When baby is wet after bathing, they will become very cold very quickly, so make sure you’re not bathing them next to an open window, or a draught. And make sure you have plenty of dry towels on hand to cover baby up as soon as they are out of the water. You can spend some time snuggling with your little mouse to get them nice and warm after their first bathing experience. And don’t forget to take lots of photos!! 

For after-bath care, take a look at our guide on what to put on your premature babies skin to make sure it is nice and moisturised and kept healthy. 

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