ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Local hospitals say they’re seeing big interest in delaying that first bath for a newborn baby.

The new practice, called “wait to bathe,” is picking up steam, letting parents choose whether to let their newly born infant get a bath immediately after birth, or waiting between 8 to 24 hours before doing so.

The option is offered at three SSM Health hospitals locally – DePaul, St. Mary’s and St. Clare, where family birthplace leader Michelle Hudson says the practice has many benefits for the baby.

“For the baby, it has increased regulation of the heartbeat, the temperature right after birth, it’s brain stimulation, it’s been proven to decrease NICU admission, glucose levels are regulated and more normal, breastfeeding is improved,” she says.

Hospital officials nationwide say this approach could lead to fewer medical interventions and lower costs, overall.

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