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
- immunoglobulin A (IgA), a blood protein that contains infection-fighting bacteria
- palmitic acid is a super-moisturizer
- lauric acid doubles as a moisturizer and antibacterial agent
- oleic acid moisturizes the skin and fights signs of aging
- vaccenic acid protects and nourishes the skin
- linoleic acid lightens spots and reduces inflammation
So much for who’s who — now what can these agents do?
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.
Cuts and insect bites
We can thank IgA for its antibacterial antibodies that soothe cuts and insect bites.
Beyond baby’s skin
- A few drops of breast milk can help with infections and blocked tear ducts.
- Don’t forget about yourself: Rub in some breast milk to help heal your cracked and sore nipples.
So you’ve heard about all the benefits, and you’re ready to do this. Let’s start with the logistics:
- Fill your baby’s bath with lukewarm water as usual.
- Add 150–300 mL of breast milk. This amount should be just enough to make the water cloudy or milky.
- Let your baby soak for 5–15 minutes while you splash the milky water over their body.
- Take your baby out and pat them dry.
- Massage your baby’s limbs with moisturizer to lock in the hydrating agents they’ve just absorbed. Don’t forget to breathe in that heavenly scent.
How often should you give milk baths?
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.
Is it OK to use frozen or expired breastmilk?
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.