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'I don't bathe my baby' -- Really?

Posted by Lara Salahi  October 10, 2013 10:29 AM

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Ask any new mother and she'll likely confess that she absolutely loves the smell of.... her baby.

The smell. It's difficult to describe but some have illustrated it as warm, sweet, or soft. Many mothers are drawn to that smell and science may tell us why. One recent study found that a mom sniffing her newborn evokes the same pleasure and satisfaction as a hungry person tasting something delicious.

But amid diaper blowouts and spit up, you'd think that natural smell would seem to go sour pretty quickly, right? And that a bath tub and some baby wash is the necessary solution, right?

Not so, Claire Goss, 32, of Ashland, Mass. told me when I recently met her for a TV story I produced. In fact, she publicly confessed through her blog on the parenting site Babble that she just doesn't find the time or the need to bathe 3-month-old Charlie.

Here's what she wrote in her blog post:

As long as you are thoroughly wiping the diaper area, as well as neck and face, then baby is good to go. This makes total sense to me. It's not like he's touching every filthy thing he can find or running around and sweating a lot, so spot cleaning should be pretty sufficient.
Unlike my older kids who really, truly stink when dirty, my baby smells really good to me all the time. My hormones say so.

I smelled Charlie. He smelled... just wonderful. And clean. He's a healthy baby, a happy baby. And gosh darn it, Claire told me the cutie sleeps through the night!

Bath time was once a nighttime routine for Claire, but she realized by baby #2 that a bath every night dried out their skin. Now, three kids deep, she's doing the night time put down a little differently.

Our discussion got me thinking, how often should you bathe an infant? (Confession: The night of our interview I went home and gave my infant a bath... I only realized the irony halfway through singing our 'ABCs'...)

The American Academy of Pediatrics says bathing a baby too often can not only dry out their skin but strip their skin of necessary bacteria that ward off infections. Still, the Academy recommends bathing an infant at least three times a week. No full-on baths for newborns during the first few weeks, until the umbilical cord stump falls off.

Even though Claire's got the backing of her own pediatrician on her once-a-week (if that) practice, her confession led to a spur of comments by readers on her own blog -- some not so nice.

Her response?

"Mothers know their babies. They have gut feelings about their babies. I would never presume to tell you how often to bathe your baby," she told ABC's "Good Morning America."

Check out the interview with Claire and share your thoughts.


Is there something you'd like me to write about? Like UltraSound Pregnancy on Facebook and leave a message or Email me

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Lara Salahi is an award-winning multimedia journalist whose specialty is reporting health and medical stories. She has worked in local, network, and cable television, international print, and documentary film. She More »

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