Breast Milk Bath for Babies & Health Benefits
How This Helps
Breast milk is the most precious liquid for any baby. It nourishes the baby from both the inside and offers immunity. Breast milk is a highly nutritious liquid produced by the mamillary glands of women after childbirth. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antibodies that help provide the necessary baby nutrients as well as protect the baby from any harmful infections. The fat content of breast milk contains compounds like lauric acid, palmitic acid, oleic acid, etc. They are widely used in cosmetic products as skin moisturizers. They are highly beneficial for the hair and skin of the baby.
What is a breast milk bath?
A breast milk bath can provide the same benefits to the baby's skin and body as drinking breast milk. The baby's bathwater is diluted with some breast milk until it is cloudy, and then the baby is soaked in this diluted breast milk bath and cleaned the usual way. Since breast milk is packed with compounds that are similar to the ingredients found in any expensive skincare range, the healing properties of a breast milk bath are numerous. [1,2,3] No wonder experts suggest that breast milk baths are highly beneficial for babies.
After a baby is born, its digestive system is quite weak to digest any food given to them. They completely depend on breast milk from their mother, which provides the necessary nutrients for growth and development. As per studies, babies must consume only breast milk up to 6 months after birth. Breast milk is packed with a long list of active germs fighting agents and health-promoting nutritious ingredients. Colostrum, the milk produced by mothers after the first few hours of delivery, is known as "liquid gold" for babies as it is extremely nutritious and packed with immunoglobulins that protect the baby from harmful bacteria and viruses.
Breast milk bath health benefits
Breast milk bath for babies' benefits
Recently, studies show that breast milk bath has gained significant importance. Some of the notable benefits of breast milk bath are as follows:
1. Moisturizes Dry Skin and Reduces Itching
Breast milk contains saturated fatty acids like palmitic acid, lauric acid, oleic acid, etc. that are excellent moisturizers. These fatty acids are also found as ingredients of top skin moisturizing products. These fatty acids present in breast milk help moisturize dry skin and make it smooth and glowing. Some other fatty acids, like vaccenic acid and linoleic acid, help reduce itching and inflammation. These fatty acids nourish the baby's skin from the outside.
2. Heals Acne and Spots
Some babies suffer from acne breakouts due to the presence of their mother's hormones in their blood. The fatty acids found in breast milk like lauric acid possess antibacterial properties and can be used to fight against acne. These fatty acids even help in reducing spots and discoloration of the skin.
3. Soothes Nappy Rash and Skin Irritation
Inflammation may arise on the baby's skin due to the accumulation of waste products in the baby's nappy. The white blood cells (WBCs) and antibodies present in breast milk help in smoothing a diaper rash and event prevent skin irritation.
4. Treating Eczema and Psoriasis
According to studies, it is found that many infants are affected by eczema within six months after birth. Many mothers started giving their babies breast milk baths, which was found to reduce symptoms of eczema as well as was also found effective in treating psoriasis. A study in 2015 found that breast milk bath was equally effective as hydrocortisone 1% solution in treating mild to moderate eczema.
5. Healing Minor Burns, Cuts and Insect Bites
As discussed earlier, breast milk contains numerous germs fighting cells, commonly known as white blood cells (WBCs) and immunoglobulins. These antibodies fight against bacteria or infections which are present on the skin. Breast milk bath helps reduce the soreness and inflammation due to minor burns, cuts, and insect bites.
6. Treating Sunburn
Breast milk contains two variants of fatty acids, which are known as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The topical application of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids during breast milk baths helps reduce the inflammatory response of the skin damaged by the UV sunlight. It helps in soothing and reducing the redness of a sunburn. [4,5,6]
How to give a breast milk bath for baby?
How to make breast milk bath for babies benefit
Giving your baby a breast milk bath is just like giving them a regular bath. Simply fill the bathtub with warm water as you would typically and then add your breast milk. You may use freshly expressed milk or frozen milk - after it is thawed. As the baby is not drinking the milk, you can eliminate using breast milk that's slightly out of date, so long as it does not smell sour. When deciding how much of your milk to put in the tub, a general guideline is sufficient to make the water muddy - involving 150ml and 300ml is generally a fantastic amount. If you've got more milk leftover from before, you can add a little more. However, your baby might smell a bit milky with excess use. You can let them soak in the water for about 10-15 minutes, so its skin really can absorb all of the nutrients from your own milk. Use your hands to dribble water as you bathe your baby.
Should they have any rashes, scabs, or other skin conditions that require attention, spend a little more time making sure lots of bathwater reaches them. As soon as you've finished bathing, there is no need to wash off your infant, just dry them with a towel. Use a baby-safe cream to lock in the moisture and nourishment.
How many times you should bathe your baby in breast milk actually depends upon how frequently you wash them but also whether they have some skin issues you are trying to deal with. If you wish to give your baby breast milk baths, one or two times a week should be sufficient for them to benefit from the healing properties of your milk.
Following steps can be followed to give an effective breast milk bath to the baby:
⮚ Fill the bathtub with lukewarm water
⮚ Add around 180-300 ml of breast milk (freshly pumped or thawed) and mix it with the water so that the water becomes milky or cloudy
⮚ Place the baby in the bathtub and let the baby soak in the water for around 10-15 minutes. Spread the water all around the baby's body and massage the water over rashes or inflamed skin if any
⮚ After a good soak, remove the baby from the bathtub and gently pat dry the skin. Do not rub the skin as it may cause irritation
⮚ You can even add oatmeal to the water to enhance its efficiency
Breast milk is one of the exceptional and severely underutilized liquids known to man. It has got a never-ending list of benefits for the baby. During the first six months of birth, breast milk is the ideal food for both the inside and the outside of the baby. However, breast milk baths for babies are not advised every day. Breast milk bath once a week or fortnightly is sufficient for the baby. If the baby is suffering from extreme diaper rash or eczema, a breast milk bath can be given twice a week. Regular bathing with breast milk can help keep the baby's skin healthy and treat various skin ailments that affect the baby during the first six months after birth.
1. The Benefits of Mother's Own Milk; Stanford's Children Health
2. Chen et al.; An Innate Bactericidal Oleic Acid Effective Against Skin Infection of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus; The Korean Society of Microbiology and Biotechnology
3. Essential Fatty Acids & Skin Health; Oregon State University
4. Kasrae H et al.; Efficacy of topical application of human breast milk on atopic eczema healing among infants: a randomized clinical trial, National Center for Biotechnology Information
5. B. Seifi et al.; Assessment Effect of Breast Milk on Diaper Dermatitis; National Center for Biotechnology Information