New way to bath newborn babies is calming for all

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 Photo: Shutterstock

I remember being terrified when I realised I'd be responsible for bathing my first baby. I put it off for days, until about five days after her birth when I realised I couldn't delay it forever. There were so many limbs to take care of (only four, for the record, but they were flailing everywhere), and her head to support – all while trying to keep her steady in a wet and slippery environment.

The idea of my daughter's first bath being a relaxing or rewarding experience for either of us was completely laughable.

Luckily for me, my daughter was patient with me and tolerated my ineptitude like a champ. Other babies scream their way through their first bath, which has to be traumatic for all involved.

A swaddle immersion bath is bathing the newborn while they are loosely swaddled in a blanket.
A swaddle immersion bath is bathing the newborn while they are loosely swaddled in a blanket. Photo: Poudre Valley Hospital

But a hospital in the US has found a new way of bathing newborns that keeps everyone calm.

UC Health Poudre Valley Hospital Women's Care Unit in Colorado started bathing babies while still swaddled in a wrap in July this year, and they're seeing amazing results.

In a statement released online, the hospital said, "When a family chooses or is ready to bathe their newborn, PVH provides a swaddle immersion bath, which has been found to be a better experience for a baby and caregivers."

The baby is loosely wrapped in a blanket and lowered gently into warm water. Then each limb is unwrapped, washed, and then wrapped back up again in turn.

This technique keeps babies calm and reduces the risk of the babies' startle reflex being triggered, just like swaddling them to sleep. Many babies sleep right through the bath, while many others remain calm and secure all the way through.

Parents at the hospital are raving fans too.

"Alexa loved it," said new mum Kelley Crimando. "She didn't cry and basically was sleeping the whole time. And we had a fussy baby the first few days, so this was a whole different experience."

Kelley admitted that she and her husband were nervous about giving Alexa her first bath, but the experience actually helped to calm Alexa down. "As soon as we started doing it, it took a lot of my nervousness away. We dried Alexa off and swaddled her back up. When we got back to the room, she slept for two hours and was very relaxed," she said.