Everything You Need To Know About The Newborn "Wait To Bathe" Policy

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Even if you've never had a child, you likely know that babies aren't born squeaky clean. They're actually covered in a white film called the vernix caseosa.
Doctors typically wash that film off as soon as the baby is born, but new research suggests that they should keep it on for at least eight hours and up to a full day.
Courtney Buss, a nurse at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Illinois, spent six months researching whether or not keeping the vernix on boosted newborns' health, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The vernix fights infection and helps babies' skin keep developing after they're born, she told the Chicago Tribune.
The nurses at Sherman's birthing center started delaying a baby's first bath for 14 hours. They wiped away any blood from the birth, but left the vernix on the babies' skin.
After six months, Buss's research found that delaying a baby's first bath decreased the number of babies who suffered from hypothermia from 29 to 14% and hypoglycemia rates dropped from 21 to 7%. She also studied breastfeeding, and found that the number of babies who took to their mothers' breasts rose from 51% to 71%.
Nine months later, the stats were even more drastic, she told the Tribune.
Now, six of the 12 hospitals in the Advocate Health System — the system in which Buss's hospital stands — are adopting this "wait to bathe" policy.
While not all hospitals have this kind of policy in place, Buss told the Tribune that parents can ask that their baby not have a bath.
And some parents are already doing so. The idea that the vernix could be good for a child's health isn't new. When news of Buss's experiment started to spread, celebrity mom Mayim Bialik mentioned it on Facebook.
"Yet another thing crunchy Moms have been saying for years and no one listened to us lol: Don't bathe a baby right after it's born!!! The vernix helps insulate baby and helps promote breastfeeding and many other good things," she wrote.
The research certainly suggests that Bialik is right — delaying that first bath could benefit a baby. Still, even moms at the hospitals that have already adopted this policy have the right to choose an immediate bath for their new baby and can rest assured that most babies are fine after getting a bath right after they're born.
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