When it comes to your baby’s first bath in the hospital, don’t be surprised if your nurse immerses your little one in a basin of warm water right up to his little shoulders. This so-called “immersion bath” is becoming more popular than the traditional sponge bath − and for good reason. Evidence shows that babies who are bathed in an immersion bath are calmer, quieter and experience less heat loss than those who are washed in a tub or sponge bathed.
In the hospital, we bathe term, stable newborns after 6 hours of life to remove unwanted bodily fluids, such as blood and meconium – an infant’s first bowel movement. Until now, I have always given new babies a quick sponge bath, which is usually not a pleasant experience for the baby. Even though I move quickly from head to toe, exposing one area at a time, washing, rinsing and drying, most babies cry and I feel terrible having new parents watch this ordeal.
This fall, my unit is moving to immersion baths.
I am looking forward to this change, because research shows babies bathed in immersion baths cry less and seem more content during and even after the bath. And, mothers report a more positive experience when babies are bathed this way at their bedside.
With immersion baths, a small basin is filled with about 5 inches of warm water and baby is placed in the tub, with water covering the shoulders. This technique seems to keep baby not only more content, but warm as well. In fact, one study that compared immersion baths to sponge baths found temperatures of immersion bathed babies were more stable than sponge bathed babies.
You might be wondering about baby’s umbilical stump and whether it should be kept dry. For as long as I can remember, we have been telling parents not to wet the umbilical stump until it completely heals and falls off. But research shows babies bathed in immersion baths had no difference in cord healing or infection than those sponge bathed.
With less crying, calmer babies, happier parents − and research to back it all up, I believe this is one change we will all embrace!
Linda Ciampa, RN
When I first met my good friend, Stephanie Oswald, more than 20 years ago, we were both young producers at CNN. She went on to become a national travel correspondent who criss-crossed the world a few times (or so it seemed to me), started up Travelgirl Magazine, settled in New Orleans as a local television reporter and had a family.
I remember Steph telling me as we hiked in Hawaii years ago that when she had kids, she would just pop them on her back and still travel. She has been true to her word. Ever since her children were babies, they have accompanied their mom on her many adventures across the country, and plans are in the works for travel abroad.
And so, when asked to write some tips on flying with baby, I turned to my dear friend for some first-hand, expert advice. Here's what she says:
Hydration – This is important for everyone, especially babies, so be prepared to breast-feed or bottle-feed during the flight. Feeding baby during takeoff and landing can help with the change in air pressure that can be uncomfortable for tiny ears. Pacifiers work, too.
Clothing – Extra clothes and extra diapers for baby are must-haves on board. Layers are great because you can peel one away if it gets too warm. Always bring a swaddling blanket, and if your child is old enough to recognize a favorite item, such as a teddy bear, bring it along as this can make him feel comfortable on the plane or in a strange place. Rattles that aren't too annoying for other passengers and a bright, soft toy are other smart take-alongs.
Wipes – These are a must-have, not only to wipe your child as needed but also to wipe down the seating area you are in on the plane. Pack them along with other key items in a "down-sized" diaper bag for the plane, since the normal bulky diaper bag can be cumbersome.
Baby Carrier/Stroller – You can take your stroller up to the door of the plane, then put your child in his baby carrier and have the stroller checked. A stroller comes in handy when you're trying to move smoothly and safely through crowded spaces.
Tags – Put a luggage tag on your stroller, your diaper bag and your child, too! Find a way to tag a piece of clothing – for example, on a tiny belt loop or through a buttonhole in the rare case that you get separated.
Once your baby is asleep on the plane, enjoy the peace and quiet. Read a book, or take a nap yourself!
Linda Ciampa, RN