ABSTRACT: Ninety-five newborns were randomly allocated to be washed daily with soap and water and 86 to be sponged off when soiled. Umbilical and nose colonization rates with Staphylococcus aureus were compared. There was no difference in colonization rates between the routine bath and no-bath groups (P = 0.69). Colonization rates for the bath group of 38 percent and for the no-bath group of 41 percent were not different from the prestudy rate of 40 percent. Correlation of the colonization rate with all tested variables for the total population revealed that those newborns who roomed in with their mothers for more than half of their hospital stay had a colonization rate of 25 percent versus those spending a greater proportion of their time in the nursery (P = 0.02). Babies delivered by cesarean section had a much higher colonization rate than did vaginally delivered babies (59% vs 9%), which was significant at the P = 0.003 level.