Bathing the newborn
This chapter overviews care in relation to bathing a baby, exploring evidence-based care in providing baby baths for the neonate as well as a step by step approach to care.
The emphasis on evidence-based practice has led to significant changes in newborn baby bathing recommendations. Whereas 20 years ago bathing babies immediately after birth was common, current recommendations advocate bathing should be delayed until more than 24 hours after birth due to the significant risks of hypothermia. This is of major importance for low birth weight and premature babies. Opportunities to promote informed parental decisions about baby bathing that are compliant with professional principles outlined in the Code arise at various points along the neonatal care pathway. Bathing can be discussed at the initial newborn check, during the 72-hour examination that forms the United Kingdom (UK) National Screening Programme and as part of ongoing postnatal care. There are many useful leaflets and web-based resources that the healthcare professional can signpost parents to.
In order to promote individualised care around bathing, the baby’s parents should be invited to talk about what is important to them and to share concerns that might relate to their antenatal and/or perinatal clinical history. As identified by the Care Quality Commission Maternity Services Survey (CQC 2015), there are further opportunities to review the information that is given to mothers about baby care and consideration should be given to factors such as parity, previous experience, continuity of care and carer. Baby bathing demonstrations and discussions, whether done as part of antenatal or postnatal care, are opportunities for parents to share emotional experiences about adjusting to parenthood and can include acknowledgement of love, joy, pride, anxiety and/or insecurities.