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Expert Q&A: Bathing and Soothing Baby’s Skin

An interview with Jeremy F. Shapiro, MD .
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How often should a baby be bathed and what’s the safest way to do it? continued...

A few tips on the baby bath:

  • Fill the baby tub with just two inches of warm water.
  • Make sure there is always at least one adult there at all times. Even though the water is low, it’s very important to realize it doesn’t take much for the baby to slip and slide.
  • Use any body-stabilizing inserts that come with the baby tub. And don’t use a regular-sized bathtub until your baby outgrows the baby tub and is sitting stably without support.
  • Wash your baby with a gentle, mild soap and a tear-free shampoo.

Bathing babies every three days or so is just fine. But I’d let a couple factors determine how often your bathe your baby: whether or not you want to make it a daily ritual and whether the baby’s skin can handle it. If the baby’s skin dries out easily, every three days may be all that’s necessary. If the skin is tolerating a daily bath and it’s an enjoyable ritual (such as a way to prepare your baby for bedtime), then by all means continue it.

Are many parents concerned about parabens and phthalates in baby skin care products?

Yes, and there are two points of debate.

Parabens can be found in baby lotions, shampoos, and other baby skin care products. They function as preservatives to fend off bacteria and fungi. The concern lies in the fact that parabens can act like estrogen in lab experiments, raising a possible association with breast cancer.

Phthalates are more of an issue in toys than in skin care products, as they’re often used as a plasticizer. But they’re also found in a wide range of products, including detergents and perfumes. The concern is that they may affect hormone levels. In the U.S., bans are now being put in place for some but not all products containing phthalates.

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Reviewed on June 09, 2009
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