How to make an oatmeal bath for your toddler (and the benefits)

oatmeal bath

by Samantha Ball |
Updated on

Oatmeal doesn't just make a great nutritional breakfast for busy parents and weaned little ones and has some amazing benefits for your baby's skin! Oatmeal baths can be effective at soothing a variety of conditions including eczema and chicken pox.

While many specially formulated baby skincare products are great for your baby's skin in its time of need, an oat bath is a natural way of helping to soothe different kinds of skin irritations.

We have explained in detail - along with advice from My Expert Midwife - the reasons why oatmeal baths can be beneficial to your child and what conditions they can help to treat.

What is an oatmeal bath?

An oatmeal bath is a homemade, natural remedy that can help reduce redness and soothe irritated skin as oatmeal is rich in calcium and vitamins that have great benefits for your little one's skin. Made from just blended oatmeal and hot water, an oatmeal bath (just like a milk bath) is incredibly easy to make for your baby and doesn't take more than a few minutes to make either.

What skin conditions can oatmeal help?

Your baby has very sensitive skin and often natural oatmeal products such as oatmeal moisturisers are best for helping to aid skin irritations.

Child's Farm's in house skin expert, Dr Anita Sturnham says 90% of the parents she works with don't use enough of their Oat Derma moisturiser on their skin. "My top tip is to colour your child's skin in so you can't see their skin. You can't overdose on moisturiser, use as much as you need to at least twice a day."

Here are some of the skin problems that a warm oatmeal bath and oatmeal moisturiser can help soothe:

Chickenpox

Chicken pox - Oatmeal bath

These irritating little spots that come with chicken pox can be a big problem for your little ones as they might have the urge to itch all the time. But an oatmeal bath will help to soothe the itching feeling.

Dry skin

Dry skin - oatmeal bath

Dry skin and skin peeling can cause discomfort for your baby. Oats have natural soothing properties that can help to soften dry skin and reduce redness. Regular oat baths can help to prevent dry skin and redness from flaring up, too.

Hives

Hives - oatmeal bath

Similar to chickenpox, hives can be itchy or even feel like they're burning. They can be incredibly uncomfortable and creams don't always do the trick. A normal bath could even irritate the baby's hives more, but a nice, warm oat bath could do the trick and help to reduce the redness of the skin and soothe the burning sensation.

Eczema

Eczema - oatmeal bath

Baby eczema is very common in little ones and it can be sometimes hard to keep on top of the inflamed skin, and not all creams help to soothe flare-ups either. A 10 to 15-minute soak in an oat bath will help moisturise skin and reduce redness. Just gently pat your little one dry after their bath too.

We spoke to Paula Oliver, a Dermatology Nurse Consultant, who told us that there are multiple types of eczema, including asteatotic eczema, which many people suffer from in the cooler months when heating is used, as the skin becomes dry. It can also be triggered by showering or bathing, so it's important to focus on moisturising.

She recommends regularly using an emollient (a non-cosmetic moisturiser) to keep the cracked skin as moisturised as possible to prevent irritation. It's important to wash your hands after applying it to your child's skin, as cross-contamination could occur.

For those who are struggling to stop itching, a wet wrap can be useful - especially in severe cases.

Nappy rash

Nappy rash - Oatmeal bath

An oatmeal bath can help to relieve the redness or soreness on your little one's bum, which can be caused by prolonged use of nappies. Gently pat the area with a soft cloth when your baby is in the oatmeal bath. It's a great alternative to nappy creams!

Benefits of oatmeal baths

We spoke to My Expert Midwife who said: "The incredible moisturising, soothing and antioxidant properties of oatmeal have long been known as being highly beneficial to our skin. Not only is oatmeal ideal for use on adult skin, but it is also gentle enough to be used on the youngest members of your family as well; newborns included."

"Either way you make it, let your little one soak in the bath a little longer (around 15 to 20 minutes) to help soothe those skin irritations!"

The My Expert Midwife team identified oatmeal as one of their must-have ingredients when developing their award-winning baby range which launched in 2023. The range consists of six dermatologically-tested, fragrance-free products that are suitable from birth, with two further products that can be introduced to your baby's skincare routine from 3+ months.

The two 3+ month Baby products have the addition of high-grade essential oils specially selected for their digestive, soothing, calming, and pain-relieving qualities to ease the discomfort associated with colic and reflux. Their Baby range products all bar one contain oat because they recognised that babies needed ingredients that were going to be gentle yet nourishing, and protective without disturbing their incredible living shield, the microbiome.

A full-term healthy baby’s skin is 30% thinner than that of an adult and is therefore more prone to damage, dryness, and irritation. Taking time to consider the ingredients used in baby products is key to caring for their skin. Oats have been added to baths for generations to soothe and moisturise dry, irritated skin, especially for babies and young children who have suffered from conditions such as chickenpox, eczema, and nappy and dribble rashes.

My Expert Midwife advises washing baby with their Mega Mild Cleansing Wash, or Super Settle Cleansing Wash (if your little one is 3+ months old), followed by either the Mega Mild or Super Settle Moisture Milk, using the Super Charged Skin Salve, Totally Immense Dribble Defence, Mega Calm Massage Balm, and No Harm Bum Balm as needed to target specific skin care concerns.

Not only does oatmeal benefit baby skin in many ways, but it can also help many adult skin problems. Mother&Baby Senior Digital Writer, Lorna White found that the only product that helped her dry and sensitive skin during the cold and frosty weather of winter was Aveeno's Daily Moisturising Lotion with nourishing oat. "My skin always gets very dry, red and full of blemishes when the weather gets colder, and after trying many different skincare products and even nothing at all, I found that Aveeno's Daily Moisturising Lotion helped my skin overnight, and it was noticeably less red, more hydrated and generally calmer after using this cream on my face."

How to make an oatmeal bath

Making an oatmeal bath is simple, meaning you can quickly whip up a couple of batches ready for your baby's bathtime!

You can stuff a pair of tights or muslin cloth with half a cup of oats and tie it to prevent any spillages, and dip it into a warm bath a few times. You can then use the oat-filled cloth to pat your little one's skin, especially on the sore areas.

Another quick and easy way to make an oatmeal bath is:

1. Blend 100g of oatmeal until it looks like a fine powder.

2. Slowly add a little bit at a time to a warm bath of running water, making sure it dissolves, (the bath will appear white).

What type of oats should I use to make an oatmeal bath?

You can use many types of oats, including steel-cut, quick oats or plain oatmeal, as long as you blend them into a fine powder in a clean food processor, as sharp oats could cause damage to your child's skin. Colloidal oatmeal is a brilliant option as they are already finely ground, so they dissolve quickly in water.

How often should my child have an oatmeal bath?

Your paediatrician may recommend that your little one has an oatmeal bath twice a day, as it will moisturise their dry skin, acting as an emollient and encouraging it to heal and rejuvenate. The average time they should spend in the bath is 15 minutes.

The best oatmeal bath products

Best for a bath soak

Full of antioxidants, this rich formula disperses in the water and acts as a cleanser, meaning there's no need to use soap which could dry out the skin. Aveeno's Oat Bath Soak will help to reduce itchiness and discomfort.

One reviewer said: "I bought this to use alongside the double oatmeal wash and oatmeal night time balm and used all three products together. Get a flannel and soak up the oatmeal in the bath water and leave on dry patches whilst having bath time. Within 3-4 days her dry patches had cleared up, will continue to use to ensure her skin maintains a balanced healthy and moisturised."

Best body wash and moisturiser bundle

We love that this bundle contains both a soothing body wash and a gentle moisturiser, both designed with dry and sensitive baby skin in mind. Packed with the goodness of oats, colloidal oatmeal is rich in beta-glucan and avenanthramides which are clinically proven to help soothe and gently nourish the natural balance of delicate skin. For very sensitive skin, you may even want to use the moisturiser before the bath to create an extra barrier between baby's skin and the body wash until their skin is more settled.

Child's Farm's skin expert, Dr Anita Sturnham says you should be getting through a tube per month for young babies, which gives you a better idea of how much you should be using.

One mum said: "I have been using this on my daughter’s skin now for about a month and have seen such an improvement using this and the matching lotion. I use this as a bubble bath, body wash and shampoo on my daughter. It leaves her skin so soft. I also had really bad dermatitis on my hand which I couldn’t get rid off no matter what I used, by just using this on my daughter it has completely cleared it. Fantastic product!"

Best for dry skin

This Aveeno cream restores irritated and dry skin by adding moisture and providing relief. It's pH balanced and it uses pure oat oil as well as Vitamin E, which are two key ingredients known to soothe the skin.

Best for sensitive skin

My Expert Midwife is suitable for children aged 3 months plus who have eczema-prone skin. It's mildly fragranced with natural essential oils including chamomile, dill, frankincense and mandarin. It's 99.5 percent naturally derived and it includes soothing oat kernel too.

One parent reviewer said: "My daughter was diagnosed with colic at 7 weeks, she'd cry unconsolably from 5pm for what felt like hours most evenings. The GP kindly told me she'd grow out of it by around 4 months, offering no solution!! A friend suggested I try this and I cannot recommend it enough. I've used this alongside the wash as part of our bedtime routine for a couple of weeks and cannot believe the difference in her. Whilst it hasn't 'cured' her, she is much more settled in the evening and can generally be calmed and rocked to sleep."

Best for babies

The calming lavender formula from Fred & Flo makes this bath milk perfect for pre-bedtime soaks. It's suitable for newborns and it has been dermatologically tested and paediatrician-approved.

Best for an oat body wash

With a combination of oat flour and oat extract, as well as ceramides, this Aveeno Emollient Body Wash can be used by adults and children. It's said to restore the skin moisture barrier whilst it cleanses.

Best calming oat moisturiser

Aveeno calming comfort
Price: $7.09
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Walmart$9.69View offer

This really gentle moisturiser is brilliant for your little one's delicate skin. Not only does it hydrate and protect but it is formulated with prebiotic colloidal oatmeal which supports the growth of microorganisms naturally found in baby's skin microbiome. Plus, it has a lovely lavender scent which is known for its calming properties, making it ideal for after a bath and before bed.

Commercial Content Writer for Mother & Baby and mum of two, Laura, says: "I used this moisturiser with both my girls when they were babies and we still use it now. In fact, I use it myself as well. My eldest struggled with dry skin and often had problems with sore skin on her face during cold weather but this always helped to both protect and soothe her skin at the first signs of dryness. I used it every night after the bath as part of a baby massage routine and I think it really helped them to relax, especially with the lavender scent. Even though they are now ages 4 and 7, we still rely on this moisturiser to prevent (or treat!) dry skin and just as a calming moisturiser at bedtime. We always keep some in the house or take it with us when we are away."

About the experts

Dr. Anita Sturnham is a highly respected and accomplished medical professional in the field of dermatology and medicine. She also continues to work in the NHS, as a General Practitioner.

My Expert Midwife create award-winning, natural skincare products and supplements from pre-conception through to pregnancy, childbirth, early motherhood and now baby.

Samantha Ball is a Product & Lifestyle Writer for Mother&Baby and freelanced for the website for two years before joining the team full time. She's a mum of two and loves browsing for the best products and cute outfits.

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