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How to Give an Oatmeal Bath for Babies

While oatmeal is a delicious breakfast, did you know that it can be added to a bath? It acts as an emollient and provides relief from itchy and dry skin conditions such as diaper rash and eczema. It’s easy to do, inexpensive and safe for newborns.

Because they spend nine months inside the womb, the outside world can dry out a baby’s skin and make them susceptible to these various skin conditions. Giving them an oatmeal bath is a common way to soothe their sore skin without the need for medicated creams. This article breaks down exactly how to give an oatmeal bath for babies.

Table of Contents

What is an Oatmeal Bath for Babies?

Despite its name, an oatmeal bath isn’t a tub filled with oatmeal. It’s the same concept as a normal bath but instead of adding in bubble bath, you add in oats instead. 

As a general rule, you can add in any kind of oats but avoid the instant oats that have flavourings added as this could make the skin problem worse. If you choose to use rolled or steel-cut oats, blend them first to make them into a fine powder.

If you want to use the type of oatmeal that’s made specifically for skin, look for colloidal oats. This kind is designed to dissolve in liquid quicker than standard oatmeal, making them ideal for an oatmeal bath for babies. It also coats the skin easier which helps with hydration and relief.

While adding oatmeal to a bath does sound slightly strange, there are several bath products out there which have oats already added such as soaps and bubble baths. A lot of these products are marketed at sensitive skin so oats must have some benefits for the skin.

Benefits of an Oatmeal Bath for Babies

As I just mentioned above, oatmeal is an ingredient listed on many skin products for both adults and children. It’s a remedy that has been used for years to relieve skin conditions such as:

  • Eczema
  • Dandruff
  • Cradle cap
  • Nappy rash
  • Chicken pox
  • Baby acne
  • Sunburn
  • Allergic reactions

Oatmeal locks in the body’s natural moisture which protects the skin. Having moisturised skin helps with the above conditions as any itching or irritation will be soothed. There have actually been several clinical studies conducted which show that products with oatmeal added did a better job at protecting the skin than products without.

It’s worth noting though that oatmeal baths aren’t a cure. There’ll be an underlying cause which can be helped and treated by medicated creams or other methods. Seek out medical advice from your GP if you think your baby has a skin condition and take their advice. You might find that they recommend oatmeal baths alongside a steroid cream or other types of emollient.

Remember to avoid highly fragranced products if your baby has a skin condition. Non-bio laundry detergents are perfect and if you want to use shampoo and a body wash on your baby, choose ones that are specifically for sensitive skin. Fragrance can anger the skin and make a condition worse, even your perfume could cause a flare up.

How to Give an Oatmeal Bath for Babies

Now you know how oats can help the skin, it’s time to break down the routine on creating an oatmeal bath. It’s not difficult or overwhelming but it helps to have the process broken down, especially if it’s your first attempt.

1. Choose the Right Kind of Oatmeal

I briefly discussed it above but the type of oatmeal matters. While there are some benefits from porridge oats being added to water, you won’t get the full rewards if you don’t grind them up first. The reason the oats have to be ground into a fine powder is so they can fully dissolve in the water. This makes it easier for the oatmeal to stick to the skin.

If you want to use the kind of oats you make porridge with, add a cup of oats to a blender and whizz it up until it’s a fine powder. You can test the oats at this stage to see if they absorb water. If they do, they’re ready to use. Otherwise, you want to find colloidal oats which are ready for use.

If you’re wondering about how much you’ll need, this all depends on who you’re running the bath for. For an infant, half a cup is the perfect amount but for children and adults, I’d recommend upping it to a whole cup.

2. Run the Bath

This step is fairly self-explanatory. Fill up your family tub or the baby bath with the same amount of water you’d use for a standard bubble bath, and at the same temperature too.

3. Add in the Oatmeal

Add the oats, a little bit at a time, and mix it in with your hand. Doing it slowly helps the oatmeal soak into the water properly. You should add enough oatmeal to turn the water a milky white. This step is important if you want to reap all the benefits of an oatmeal bath for babies.

4. Time to Soak

It’s time to pop your baby into the water. If they enjoy playing with toys, put some in the bath as this will encourage them to stay in the tub. The longer they’re in there, the more their skin will be moisturised.

Use the oat water to wash them from head to toe. If you feel you need to, you can also use an oatmeal based shampoo and body wash. They’re designed for sensitive skin so they won’t make irritated skin worse like some baby products.

Some people add some oats to a sock or some tights and tie the top to stop them escaping. This is then used to wash the baby with and it provides more relief than just soaking alone. You can also do this if you want to avoid rinsing away leftover oats when bathtime is done.

Remember, bath time safety rules should always be followed: never leave your baby in the bath alone, and make sure you have a towel handy before you put them in the water. 

5. Pull the Plug

When your baby has had enough, pull the plug and wrap them in a towel. When they’re dry, you could use a cream or other moisturiser to lock in the moisture they’ve just received from the bath. This is also a good step to add to a bedtime routine, baby massage can help unwind your baby and make them drift off to sleep better.

moisturise after oatmeal bath for baby

Risks of Giving Your Baby an Oatmeal Bath

There aren’t many risks of an oatmeal bath for babies, but an allergic reaction is the main thing you need to look out for.

A gluten or wheat intolerance could mean your baby is sensitive to oatmeal and this would mean that an oatmeal bath wouldn’t be suitable for them. While oats don’t contain gluten, they’re often grown near wheat and processed in factories that handle gluten products. Some people can actually be allergic to oats themselves as oats contain proteins that are similar to gluten.

The signs to look out for are:

  • Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Sneezing
  • Eye irritation

If you suspect your child is showing a reaction to oats, take them out of the tub and seek medical help straight away.

If you do suspect your baby may react to oats, why not try a breast milk bath instead, which also has many healing benefits for baby?

Frequently Asked Questions

oatmeal bath for babies

Can I use Aveeno Oatmeal Bath on my Baby?

Absolutely. This is designed for use on all sensitive skin types and this includes baby skin. But there is an Aveeno baby specific range if you feel more comfortable using that.

How Often Should I Give an Oatmeal Bath?

This depends on how severe the skin condition or the dryness is. Start out with once or twice a week and increase it if you feel it’s necessary. A GP might tell you to do it more often if medicated creams are needed but bear in mind that having oatmeal baths too often will dry out the skin and make it worse.

Is Colloidal Oatmeal Gluten Free?

Oats don’t contain gluten. However, they’re often grown next to wheat and processed in factories that also process products containing gluten. This is something to remember if your baby has a gluten intolerance.

It’s also worth noting that oats contain a protein that’s similar to gluten and this can set off a reaction.

Can I Give my Baby an Oatmeal Bath Without a Bathtub?

If you only have a shower in your family bathroom, the idea of an oatmeal bath seems impossible. But you can buy baby baths, some of which can accommodate toddlers up to age three. If your kitchen sink is big enough, this can also be used while your baby is small.

As mentioned above, you can also try adding oats to a sock or some tights and tie the top, and use this to wash your baby with. You may not receive all the same benefits as a soak, but you should see some relief. 

The Bottom Line

An oatmeal bath for babies won’t cure skin conditions on its own. But if you use them alongside medicated treatment and avoid highly fragranced products, they can be part of a routine that will ease irritation. As long as your baby doesn’t show a reaction, there’s no harm in them and they’ll come out with their skin feeling baby smooth. 

We hope that now you know how to give an oatmeal bath for babies, you’ll give it a try and your baby will feel soothed and relaxed.

5 steps of how to make an oatmeal bath for babies