The first 24 hours of parenthood are precious. While it’s a whirlwind of wonder, one thing many of us remember is baby’s first bath. However, research shows that waiting just one day before your newborn’s first bath can make a huge difference in their overall health.
Joni Lisenbee, RN, the nurse manager of Mission Hospital’s Mother/Baby Unit, shares some of the proven advantages of delaying baby’s first bath. “Research has shown several benefits to delaying the first bath of the newborn,” said Lisenbee.
Postponing the first bath leaves the vernix — a protective layer covering the baby’s skin at birth — intact, which can lead to other benefits such as innate immunity and increased appetitive responses. Lisenbee’s research also found a positive correlation between delaying the bath and lower bilirubin levels and decreased use of phototherapy.
Reduction in hypothermia. When your baby comes into the world, he goes from mama temperature to room temperature, which is quite a drop. Focusing on warming up baby with skin-to-skin bonding time decreases chances of hypothermia and increases bonding time with mom and dad.
Decreased rates of hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia is a condition in which the rates of blood sugar levels are lower than normal, and can affect a newborn brain’s ability to function. A 2015 study shows that delaying the initial bath for the newborn may decrease rates of hypoglycemia by 50 percent in both high-risk and low-risk infants.
Delayed bathing and breastfeeding. In addition to research Lisenbee discovered, from a new Cleveland Clinic Study, that delaying baby’s first bath increases breastfeeding rates. Lisenbee notes since delaying baths at Mission, the nursing staff has reported seeing the babies more active at feedings. “We have had several mothers comment on how they had read about the benefits of delayed bathing and were so excited to see that we are doing that here as a standard practice,” she said.
Joni Lisenbee, MSN, RN, IBCLC, is the nurse manager of Mission Hospital’s Mother/Baby Unit.