It’s hard to believe that there’s anything more heavenly than the scent of a freshly bathed infant. But if you give your baby a milk bath, you’ll get the scent of your fresh little one — plus some extra health benefits.
What is a milk bath exactly? There’s no magic here: All you have to do is add some breast milk to your baby’s bathwater.
A milk bath helps treat skin issues because breast milk is bursting with properties that nourish, protect, and heal both the inside and outside of your baby. Cleopatra was onto something when she bathed in milk.
Plenty has been written about breast milk’s benefits for babies’ developing immune systems. However, the healing properties of the hundreds to thousands of nutrients, fats, and vitamins in breast milk can also affect your baby’s skin.
Human milk comprises 0.8 to 0.9 percent protein, 3 to 5 percent fat, 6.9 to 7.2 percent carbohydrates, and various vitamins, minerals, and bioactive substances. Here’s a partial breakdown of who’s who in breast milk:
So much for who’s who — now what can these agents do?
A 2015 study showed that breast milk was as effective as hydrocortisone 1% at treating mild to moderate eczema. Goodbye to dry, flaky skin.
Lauric acid’s antibacterial properties can help fight off baby acne, which may occur thanks to the hormones absorbed from your blood in utero. Does lauric acid ring a bell? Rightly so, as lauric acid is also found in coconut oil, which is included in many beauty products.
Diaper dermatitis is one of the most common skin problems in infants and children, affecting between 7% and 35% of infants. A 2013 study showed that treating diaper rash with breast milk was as effective as using hydrocortisone 1% ointment alone. You win hands down, mama.
We can thank IgA for its antibacterial antibodies that soothe cuts and insect bites.
So you’ve heard about all the benefits, and you’re ready to do this. Let’s start with the logistics:
Wondering how often to give a milk bath? Once or twice a week should be enough to keep your baby’s skin smooth, supple, and blemish-free.
If you’re worried about using up your milk supply on bathing, you can use fewer milk baths interspersed with more traditional soap and water bathing in between. If you seem to have a shortage of breast milk, keep feeding often to increase supply.
Feel free to pump extra milk and freeze it in advance of these baths. Defrost it before you add it to the bath so that you can better control the water temperature. And don’t be nervous about using expired milk. As long as it still smells good, it’s fine to use for bathing.
Tempted to try it out? Running the bathwater for your baby already? Go ahead and have fun. Bath time is special… and now you can make it even better.