Delaying the bath and in-hospital breastfeeding rates

Breastfeed Med. 2013 Dec;8(6):485-90. doi: 10.1089/bfm.2012.0158. Epub 2013 May 2.


Background and objective: Until 2010, newborns at our institution were bathed in the nursery at approximately 2 hours of life. In May 2010, infant baths were delayed until at least 12 hours of life. Infants are now bathed in the hospital room with parents' participation and are placed skin-to-skin immediately after the bath. This study explored whether delaying the newborn's first bath correlates with increased in-hospital breastfeeding rates at our Baby-Friendly, urban safety-net hospital.

Subjects and methods: We performed a retrospective chart review comparing in-hospital breastfeeding rates during the 6 months before and the 6 months after the bath was delayed.

Results: Of the infants, 702 met inclusion criteria. Before the bath was delayed, infants were bathed at an average of 2.4 hours of life. Afterward, infants were bathed at an average of 13.5 hours of life. In-hospital exclusive breastfeeding rates increased from 32.7% to 40.2% (p<0.05) after the bath was delayed. Multivariate logistic regression analysis showed that infants born after implementation of delayed bathing had odds of exclusive breastfeeding 39% greater than infants born prior to the intervention (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]=1.39; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.02, 1.91) and 59% greater odds of near-exclusive breastfeeding (AOR=1.59; 95% CI 1.18, 2.15). The odds of breastfeeding initiation were 166% greater for infants born after the intervention than for infants born before the intervention (AOR=2.66; 95% CI 1.29, 5.46).

Conclusions: In our cohort, a delayed newborn bath was associated with increased likelihood of breastfeeding initiation and with increased in-hospital breastfeeding rates.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baths / methods*
  • Baths / trends
  • Breast Feeding / psychology
  • Breast Feeding / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Infant Care* / methods
  • Infant Care* / psychology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors