Delaying the First Bath

Waiting to bathe babies after birth leads to better outcomes, according to an Illinois nurse conducting research on the subject.

Unable to find significant research about the benefits of delaying the newborn bath, nurse Courtney Buss spent six months observing and recording outcomes for babies whose first bath was immediate or delayed.

After one month, she found that delaying the first bath for 8-24 hours resulted in the following outcomes:

  • Hypothermia rates decreased from 29% to 14%
  • Hypoglycemia rates decreased from 21% to 7%
  • Breastfeeding rates increased from 51% to 71%

Vernix, which is the white, waxy substance covering newborn babies, keeps babies warm and helps control blood sugar. Because the baby’s body doesn’t have to work hard to stay warm, energy is conserved that can be used for breastfeeding instead.

Thanks to Buss’s research, her hospital system now has a policy to wait 14 hours before baby’s first bath.

How long did you wait to bathe your baby?

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