Why you should bath your baby in your breast milk | Living and LovingLiving and Loving

Why you should bath your baby in your breast milk

Breast milk baths are a thing. Here’s why and how to do it.


If you’re one of the lucky moms who have an oversupply of breast milk, we have just the solution for you – aside from freezing or donating it to a breast milk bank of course.

ALSO SEE: Everything you need to know about banking your breast milk

Many new moms are surprised to discover there are other uses for breast milk beyond simply feeding their baby, says independent nursing and midwifery consultant Prof Diana du Plessis. “It’s well known that breast milk has healing properties and benefits for the growth and development of a baby primarily because of what it contains,” she says.

4 benefits of breast milk for your baby’s skin

Moisturises the skin and fights dry skin

The fat content of breast milk includes fats that are primary ingredients of cosmetics like skin moisturisers, and are highly beneficial for skin and hair.

Breast milk contains palmitic acid, a saturated fatty acid, that’s an excellent moisturiser. It also contains an omega fatty acid called oleic acid, which moisturises and heals dry skin. (It’s also said to fight the signs of ageing – so nothing wrong with dabbing some of that “liquid gold” under your eyes when you bath baby!)

Helps with acne

Breast milk contains lauric acid, which is a fatty acid also found in coconut oil. It has antibacterial properties which can help fight baby acne. These breakouts develop on your baby because of your hormones still circulating in her blood. It also helps fade dark spots and discolouration on the skin.

ALSO SEE: Common baby skin conditions

Helps with cradle cap and eczema

Many new moms are advised to use expressed breast milk to relieve cradle cap and eczema in their young babies. “Simply rub a little milk on the affected area or give your baby a milk bath,” says Diana.

ALSO SEE: Get rid of cradle cap with these top tips

Can help with nappy rash

Breast milk can also help ease the pain of nappy rash and speed up the healing process. You can squirt some breast milk on the affected area, or bath baby in some breast milk. However, Diana cautions that if the nappy rash is caused by an outbreak of thrush, it’s best to avoid the milk bath.

“Breast milk contains vaccenic, linoleic, palmitic and oleic acid, acknowledged as the best treatment for dry and irritated skin. It’s also why breast milk baths are so beneficial for your baby’s skin,” says Diana.

ALSO SEE: How to manage nappy rash at home

How to give a breast milk bath

Giving your baby a milk bath is as easy as it sounds.

  • Simply fill your baby’s bath with warm water as you usually would and add some expressed breast milk. “For the milk bath to be effective, you need to add enough breast milk to make the water look cloudy and milky,” says Diana. She adds that the diluted solution of breast milk and water has not been studied yet, so it’s not possible to recommend an actual dosage.
  • You can use fresh, frozen or expired breast milk for this bath.
  • Swish the water around to spread it out, and allow your baby to play or relax in the milk bath for at least a few minutes.
  • Pour the milk and water over your baby’s body, arms and legs, paying extra attention to any irritated areas.
  • Take your baby out of the bath and gently pat him dry, without rinsing. This allows the breast milk to continue penetrating their skin.

More about the expert:

Professor Diana du Plessis is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Fort Hare in the Masters of Public Health and Albertina Sisulu Leadership programme. She held the position of senior lecturer in Midwifery and Neonatology at the University of the Free State and University of Johannesburg from 1982 until 2010 after which she established herself as an independent nursing and midwifery consultant for private hospitals and universities. She has a private antenatal and postnatal practice, Baby Wise Childbirth Education Centre, in Fourways, Johannesburg. Learn more about Prof Diana du Plessis here

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