Objective: To compare selected effects of tub bathing versus traditional sponge bathing in healthy, term newborns and their mothers’ ratings of pleasure and confidence with the bath.
Design: Randomized controlled study.
Setting: The maternity unit of an eastern Canadian hospital.
Participants: One hundred two mother-baby pairs were randomly assigned to an experimental tub bath or a sponge bath control group.
Interventions: Fifty-one newborns were tub bathed and 51 sponge bathed according to the study protocols for their initial and one additional bath.
Main Outcome Measures: (a) Newborn temperature stability was assessed by recording axillary temperatures pre- and postbath, (b) umbilical cord healing was identified by daily observations and infection control surveillance, (c) infant contentment was quantified by applying the Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale, and (d) maternal pleasure with the bath and confidence with bathing at discharge were self-rated on a 5-point scale.
Results: Tub-bathed babies experienced significantly less temperature loss (t = 4.79, p = .00) and were significantly more content (t =−6.48, p = .00) than were those who were sponge bathed. No differences in cord healing scores were found. Mothers of tub bathed babies rated their pleasure with the bath significantly higher than did mothers of sponge bathed babies (t = 4.15, p = .00). No differences in maternal confidence were noted.
Conclusions: Tub bathing is a safe and pleasurable alternative to sponge bathing in healthy, term newborns.