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How to give your child an oatmeal bath – you’ll be surprised what this homemade method can do

DIY an oatmeal bath and soothe your kiddo's skin issues

A parent giving a baby a bath
Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock

From rashes to bumps to whatever that thing is that itches — if your child has something going on with their skin, you want a way to calm the ailment down that doesn’t require heavy medications. A tried-and-trusted method for easing upset skin conditions is an oatmeal bath.

Parents have been soaking their kids in oaty bathwater to treat the symptoms of certain skin issues for a reason — because it works. But before you open up your cabinet to shake some Quaker Oats into the tub, there are details about how to give your child an oatmeal bath you’ll need to know first, and we’re here to help.

A baby after a bath in a towel
FamVeld / Shutterstock

Why an oatmeal bath?

Oatmeal is amazing for your health. Not only is it the superior breakfast choice, but it does wonders for your skin.

Some perks of oatmeal for the skin

  • Oatmeal has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It will reduce redness, dryness, and itchiness of most skin conditions.
  • It locks in the moisture, keeping the skin barrier healthy.

What oatmeal could help treat

  • Poison oak, poison ivy, and sumac
  • Diaper rash
  • Eczema
  • Baby acne, dandruff, or cradle cap
  • Sunburn or windburn
  • Bug bites
  • Dry, irritated skin (mostly from seasonal changes)
  • Chickenpox

Most of the time, when a baby or child has one of these issues, it’s mild, so an oatmeal bath will make a huge difference.

A child in the bathtub
Oksana Kuzmina / Adobe Stock

Oatmeal bath basics

Who is an oatmeal bath good for?

One of the great things about an oatmeal bath is that almost anyone can hop in one. From babies to toddlers and beyond, if something is going on with the skin, oatmeal baths are a safe and easy way to make the skin happy. Believe it or not, you could even give your doggo an oatmeal bath if they have dry, itchy skin.

An oatmeal bath is a treatment, not a cure

An oatmeal bath won’t cure the condition, but it will help treat the symptoms. If your child has a severe case of something like eczema, you will want to have a chat with the pediatrician first.

You still have to watch for allergies

If your little one has a gluten or wheat allergy, you won’t be able to try this one. Some people are allergic to the protein in the actual oats.

A parent putting kids in the bath
Halfpoint / Adobe Stock

How to set up an oatmeal bath

Getting an oatmeal bath ready isn’t any more difficult than making yourself a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast.

Get the oats ready

You want colloidal oatmeal, which means it’s ground up finely to where it looks like a powder. It’s easier to dissolve in things like (surprise) bathwater or lotions. Yes, you could grab whatever oats you have in the pantry, but only if they are unflavored. As with fragrances and other chemicals, any flavors or spices found in the oatmeal would further upset the skin. You want the blandest of bland oatmeal for this. 

How to take an oatmeal bath

  • Run the bathwater like normal, making sure the water is as warm/hot as can be without hurting your child.
  • While the tub is still filling up, sprinkle in the oatmeal a little bit at a time.
  • After each dose of oatmeal, mix it up in the water with your hand.
  • Once it’s all in there, (gently) put your child in the bath.
  • You will want your kid to soak in the oatmeal bath for at least 15 minutes.
  • You won’t use body washes, shampoos, or other soaps for this bath.
  • You don’t want to rinse your child off after the bath.
  • You could rub any extra oatmeal or oatmeal that didn’t dissolve on your little one’s skin.
  • When the water is too cold or the 15 minutes is up, carefully take your child out of the bath.
  • For drying, do not rub the skin. You’ll pat the towel along your kid as softly as possible.
  • To lock in the moisturizing benefits, use an oatmeal lotion after the bath.
  • Your child can take an oatmeal bath twice a day until the skin is calmed down.

Extra tips

If you don’t want to dissolve the oats directly in the water or don’t have a machine to grind the oats down enough, you could always put the cup of oats in a cheesecloth and toss that in the water to soak. You’ll run the oatmeal in a food processor and test some in a glass of warm water before you go straight to the bath.

How much oatmeal you should use?

A good amount of oats to use for a regular bath is 1 cup of oatmeal. For a little, baby-size bath, use around 1/3 of a cup. As always, with any at-home remedy, if the oatmeal doesn’t seem to be working or your child’s skin looks worse, don’t be afraid to reach out to the pediatrician. 

If you were a child before the chickenpox vaccine, you were dipped in an oatmeal bath to help soothe your itching skin. If it works, it works. Countless skin products contain oatmeal for a reason. 

Are you a baker? Then you probably have oats in the kitchen at all times anyway, so don’t forget how amazing an oatmeal bath is for anyone in the home who has a skin condition. Save some of those just in case your tot has a skin issue that could be soothed by the healing power of oats in the bathwater.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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