Being a new parent, you may approach bathing your newborn with trepidation. The good news is that babies do not need a daily bath. Initially, babies only need to be bathed two to three times per week. However, babies have unpredictable bathroom blowouts and spit-up. Some families may discover that your infant needs to bathe more or less frequently.
Newborn skin is different than adult skin and requires specific consideration. Infants are at risk of losing heat quickly through their skin. It is important to keep your infant warm during the bath.
There are many possibilities for bathing your newborn baby. Once your baby can sit in a regular tub, these will no longer need to be a consideration. These first bath options involve:
- A sponge bath
- Small tub bathing basin
- Immersion tub bathing and
- Swaddled Tub Bathing
Some healthcare professionals advise against getting the umbilical stump wet. They encourage you to let the stump fall off between days ten and fourteen before soaking the stump in the bath. However, there are no differences in cord healing for tub-bathed babies when compared to their sponge bathed counterparts.
Tub-bathed babies experienced less temperature loss. They were significantly more content than those who were sponge bathed. Mothers of tub-bathed babies were much happier than the mother of sponge bathed babies. There was no difference in maternal confidence. Tub bathing is a safe and pleasurable alternative to sponge bathing in healthy, term newborns.
A. Sponge Bath
Sponge bathing is when your infant is gently washed with a washcloth over a basin or sink. You carefully wash one part of your baby’s body at a time. This is usually the technique that babies are taught in the hospitals. In this technique, it is easy to avoid washing the umbilical cord stump.
The drawbacks of the sponge bath are that it puts infants at risk for increased heat loss leading to cold stress, crying, and agitation. New parents prefer to minimize any emotional distress by their new bundle of joy. This method of bathing can be stressful for parents and babies alike. Because of this, routine sponge bathing is not recommended for ill premature infants
Small tub bathing basins can be used for a bath. The idea is that the infants are too large to fit in the small basin, so their upper bodies are exposed to air. This allows them to bathe in a small bathing container. Babies typically like to be in a small, warm, tight place. The small bathing basin tub essentially cocoons the baby. The tub should use warm water that has been tested on your wrist or inner elbow to ensure temperature adequacy. The drawback of small tub bathing is that it leaves their upper bodies exposed to cooler air and it puts the baby at risk of cold stress
Immersion tub bathing is when you submerge the infant’s body, with the exception of the head and neck, into warm water (approximately 100.4°F). The bath should be kept to less than five minutes to keep your baby warm and comfortable.
Covering your baby’s body with warm water ensures even temperature distribution and minimizes stress to the baby. This means decreased heat loss caused by evaporating water. This bath contributes to keeping your baby warm and the bath enjoyable, which is beneficial for maintaining your baby’s temperature and blood sugar. Babies with this type of bath are more content during the bath and their parents report a more serene and pleasurable bath.
Some health care professionals are concerned about the risk of infection and proper healing to the umbilical cord. However, a study found there was no difference in cord healing, bacterial colonization of the cord, or frequency of diaper rash between immersion and sponge bathed infants
This technique means that infants are swaddled in a soft blanket or towel before they are immersed in a warm tub of water. Swaddling is usually learned from nurses at the hospital. The snug blanket around your baby resembles the mother’s womb and is very soothing. When swaddling infants, knees and elbows should be in a flexed position to encourage joint development.