What is a Swaddle Bath?

Giving a newborn a bath can be stressful--but bathing a newborn has become a whole lot easier thanks to a new technique. Swaddle immersion baths provide a calming effect that leads to happier bath times overall and has become the go-to option for one Colorado hospital.

During a swaddle bath, your newborn is loosely swaddled in a blanket. You can use any receiving blanket, from the ones issued at the hospital to your current favorite receiving blanket.

To start, the newborn and the blanket (up to the baby’s shoulder) are immersed in an infant tub of warm water. From there each limb is individually un-swaddled, washed, rinsed, and re-swaddled before exposing the next body part.

This simple, yet genius technique was created by a registered nurse of 38 years, Edna Sailer. “We found that babies’ temperatures were better stabilized and they were less likely to cry,” while using the technique, said Sailer. In fact, research indicates out of 15 babies who were given a traditional sponge bath, 93 percent cried, compared to just 38 percent of the 21 babies who received a swaddle bath!

Here are some of Sailer’s quick tips for at-home swaddle baths:

  • Newborns do not require frequent bathing, once a week is enough
  • Have all of your bathing supplies ready to go ahead of time (i.e clean infant tub, baby soap, swaddle blanket, knee rest for parent)
  • The bath should take approximately 5 to 10 minutes
  • The temperature of the bathwater should be between 99.9 and 103.9 degrees Fahrenheit. The water should be comfortably warm, but not hot.
  • Wait at least 24 hours after a circumcision to give your baby boy a swaddle bath 

The main thing to keep in mind is, like with any bath, newborns can become easily over-or under-heated. Just be mindful of the temperature and that you are quickly toweling them down after the bath is over, but with swaddle baths you will be well on your way to becoming a bath-time hero.

Lisa is a babywearing, breastfeeding, cloth-diapering mama of a one-year old girl and is currently pregnant with her second. She will most definitely be using swaddle baths on the new arrival.

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