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Newborn Swaddle Bath Is Far Cry From Traditional First Bath

By Kathy Walsh

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)- A hospital in Fort Collins is offering a new option for baby's first bath called a "swaddle immersion bath." The bath can keep the newborn calm and anxious parents happy. The experience is a far cry from the traditional sponge bath.

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If you've ever seen a baby get a sponge bath, you know it looks stressful. The baby is naked and cleaned with a wet cloth or sponge. A newborn often cries uncontrollably.

When two-day-old Blakely Smith had a swaddle immersion bath, she barely made a sound. It's a new option at UCHhealth Poudre Valley Hospital.

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Parents Alyssa and Kevin with daughter Blakely (credit: CBS)

"I'm just going to pour this water over her," explained Registered Nurse of 38 years, Edna Sailer.

Wrapped loosely in a warm blanket, Blakely was placed in water, about 102 degrees Fahrenheit.

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"I'm going to be right here by you," said Sailer to Kevin Smith, Blakely's father.

A first time dad, Smith, happily followed instructions.

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"Keep everything covered. Perfect!" Sailer said.

Under the watchful eye of his wife, Alyssa, Smith unswaddled Blakely's tiny limbs, one at a time, then washed it, rinsed it, and reswaddled. The baby slept through it all.

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New dad Kevin Smith with his newborn daughter Blakely (credit: CBS)

"They're (newborns) in a very calm state," said Sailer touting the benefits of a swaddle bath.

She encouraged Smith to gently massage his baby girl's back, bonding with her.

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"It's very soothing to them," the RN said.

Blakely even dozed while her dad scrubbed her head. It was all over in under 10 minutes.

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Newborn Blakely gets a swaddle immersion bath (credit: CBS)

"It's not stressful at all," said a relaxed Smith. "The whole process is soothing for her, for me as a parent."

"This is our standard practice now," said Sailer.

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At Poudre Valley Hospital, after a child is 24 hours old, parents are offered the option of a swaddle immersion bath for their newborn, instructions on how to do it at home or a head wash for the baby.

Sailer spearheaded the change. She did a study at the hospital that showed 93 percent of babies cried when they had a sponge bath compared to 38 percent of babies who cried during a swaddle immersion bath.

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Newborn Blakely (credit: CBS)

Now, UCHealth plans to implement swaddle immersion bath protocol at the UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies.

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 for more than 30 years. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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