You may have dreaded eating oatmeal, or “porridge,” as a child — but as grown-ups, we can’t sing its praises enough. A nice warm bowl of oatmeal adds fiber to your daily diet, lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, and boosts your heart health.

And that’s not all: Adding oatmeal to baby’s bath (and yours) can help remedy dry, flaky, or itchy skin!

An oatmeal bath can help moisturize and soothe your baby’s skin. It may also help treat baby skin rashes like eczema and diaper rashes.

Here’s how to make an oatmeal bath for your baby and how to know if using one is right for their delicate skin.

An oatmeal bath is like a bubble bath — without the bubbles and with oatmeal instead! The oatmeal you use for baths has the same starting point as the kind you eat: oat grains that have been ground or crushed into a fine powder.

You can use any kind of oatmeal for an oatmeal bath, including instant or quick cooking (though you’ll want to avoid the packets with added flavors).

A special kind of oatmeal that’s usually used for skin and bathing is called colloidal oatmeal. It’s more finely ground into a soft powder that allows it to coat and protect the skin.

Colloidal oatmeal is different from the kind you eat because it’s designed to dissolve in fluids.

It’s added to lots of skin care products, like moisturizers, bath soaps, shampoos, and shaving creams. You can also get convenient packets of colloidal oatmeal to add to your baby’s bathwater.

You can always follow the directions on the colloidal oatmeal product to make an oatmeal bath for your baby. But if you don’t have any on hand, you can still offer your little one a soothing oatmeal bath with whatever kind of oatmeal you do have.

Don’t have colloidal oatmeal at home?

You can use plain oatmeal or steel-cut or quick oats you may have in your pantry for oatmeal baths. Simply finely grind the oatmeal into a uniform powder in a food processor or grinder.

To test whether it’s ready to use in a bath, drop a spoonful into a glass of warm water and swirl. It should dissolve in the liquid. If the grind isn’t fine enough, it’ll simply collect at the bottom of the glass.

The oatmeal works best when dissolved into the water, but it won’t harm your baby if some larger pieces remain. It just means you’ll have to spend some extra time cleaning the tub after their bath is done.

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Here’s how to prepare an oatmeal bath:

  1. Draw your baby a bath, just as you normally would. Make sure the water is a comfortably warm temperature.
  2. Have Ducky — or whatever else captivates your little one’s attention — ready for action.
  3. Add the oatmeal, about a teaspoon at a time, to the running water. Mix the water with your hand. Adding the oatmeal powder a little at a time helps it mix in better.
  4. Continue adding and mixing the oatmeal powder until the bathwater turns a milky white.
  5. Plop your baby into the oatmeal bath and use the water to rinse their skin from head to toe. Let them play and soak in the oatmeal bath to give it time to treat their skin.
  6. As with any time you’re bathing your baby, never leave them alone in the bath. Remain within arms’ reach at all times.
  7. When bath time is done, gently pat them dry with a towel. Feel free to use a moisturizer on their skin — maybe even one that also contains oatmeal.

You can also try using oatmeal soaps and shampoos for babies along with an oatmeal bath.

Oatmeal is an age-old remedy used for lots of skin and hair ailments in adults, children, and babies. Plus, independent medical studies show that oatmeal baths and other colloidal oatmeal products can help some skin problems.

A medical study from 2014 found that skin lotions and creams with added oatmeal did a better job keeping skin moisturized than skin care products without oatmeal. Adults in the study had less dry and cracking skin after using oatmeal products.

Other clinical research from 2020 found that adding colloidal oatmeal to skin care treatment helped ease serious hand eczema in adults. According to the researchers, colloidal oatmeal helps eczema symptoms in two ways:

  • It helps repair the skin barrier. This helps skin heal, keeps moisture in, and prevents the skin from drying out too quickly.
  • It has anti-inflammatory and soothing qualities. This means it can help bring down skin redness, itching, irritation, and tenderness.

While oatmeal skin care studies are done only on grown-ups — because why would anyone test anything on a baby?! — giving your little bundle of joy an oatmeal bath can also soothe their skin troubles. Yes, oatmeal can help baby skin problems, too!

Check with your doctor before giving your baby an oatmeal bath. You can usually use colloidal oatmeal to help treat conditions such as:

As your little one grows up, keep colloidal oatmeal packets handy for other skin emergencies, like:

Even completely natural products can sometimes cause a reaction — but reactions to oatmeal products are very rare, according to a series of studies in 2012.

Your baby might be allergic or sensitive to oats if they have a wheat or gluten allergy.

Oats don’t have gluten in them, but they’re usually grown near wheat and other grains. They might also be processed in the same factories. The traces of gluten in colloidal oatmeal and other oat products might cause an allergic reaction in some babies.

Some babies (and adults) are allergic to the oats themselves. This can happen because oats contain proteins that are similar to gluten. An allergy to oats or gluten can cause different skin and breathing symptoms.

Watch out for symptoms that might mean your baby is having an allergic reaction to oats. These include:

  • skin rash or redness
  • hives
  • vomiting
  • difficulty breathing
  • runny or stuffed nose
  • sneezing
  • eye irritation
  • face, mouth, or throat swelling

Get urgent medical attention if your baby has any sign of a serious allergic reaction like anaphylaxis.

Your little one might also have a reaction to other ingredients in store-bought colloidal oatmeal. Or they may be sensitive or allergic to other ingredients in oat skin care products.

Purchase 100 percent pure colloidal oatmeal, either in handy single-use packets or a big bottle, to avoid additives, perfumes, or other ingredients that may cause irritation.

Colloidal oatmeal products designed for babies will normally be pure and without added perfumes and dyes. But always double-check the ingredients before use.

You can look for varieties made from organically grown oats. Your baby’s sensitive skin deserves only the best and safest skin care — as do you!

Give your baby regular oatmeal baths to help soothe and keep away baby skin care problems. Try adding colloidal oatmeal to your baby’s bathwater to help improve dry skin, diaper rashes, mild eczema, and other skin ailments.

Oatmeal baths aren’t a cure for anything, but they can help ease symptoms along with other skin care treatment. If your baby has a serious skin condition like severe eczema, check with your doctor before trying an oatmeal bath.