Baby-Friendly Initiative: Elimination of Newborn Bath and Hypothermia

Student Author(s)

Brooke Wolthuis

Faculty Mentor(s)

Beverly VanderWal, RN, and Susan Dunn, Ph.D, RN

Document Type


Event Date



Bathing has been a tradition integrated into the nursing care of an infant soon after birth to foster and promote cleanliness. However, previous studies have found a link between a decrease body temperature and evidence of hypothermia in infants who were bathed within the first few hours after birth. The purpose of this study focused on the effects of a delayed newborn bath on the condition of an infant; in particular, the project investigated if the presence of the baby bath within the first 12 hours of life significantly lowered the newborns’ body temperatures enough to cause the symptoms of hypothermia. Betty Neuman’s Systems Theory examines the interaction between a patient as a system and their surrounding stressors. Newborn baths can be a stressor by interrupting the evidence-based practice of maximizing skin-to-skin contact and affecting the newborns’ vital signs, a part of their system. The project was completed with the obstetrical services of a large teaching hospital in Michigan. The hospital recently implemented a policy change eliminating baby baths in nursing care within the first 12 hours of life. Randomly selected charts of infants born one month before and after the change were retrospectively reviewed. The sampled population included 200 newborns admitted to the mother-baby care units at the hospital and born at a gestational age greater than or equal to 34 weeks, 100 newborns before and 100 after the policy change. The results and conclusion of the study are not yet known. Limitations of this project include that the study was completed at one hospital and was limited in sample size. The results and conclusions of the study can add to the nursing knowledge-base and provide a foundation of evidence-based practice for the care of newborns within the first 12 hours of life, opposed to the practicing tradition of newborn baths.

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