Infants on Shabbat

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Illness

  1. In a case where the child is under three months and appears to be ill, if his temperature is not that high, but merely a notch over 100 degrees, one can still desecrate the Shabbos (call a doctor, drive if a non-Jew cannot be found etc.) as temperature for a newborn can be indicative of something more serious[1]. If time is not of essence one should obviously initially look to engage a non-Jew in any prohibited activity. [2]
  2. If a child needs a vaporizer to alleviate discomfort (from bronchitis etc.), one may ask a non-Jew to plug it in on Shabbos to ease his pain. While some prohibit adding cold water to a cold water vaporizer[3], others permit it if you pour it through the spout[4]. If it is a hot water vaporizer one may take previously boiled water from an urn and refill it[5].

Diapering

  1. The issue of using baby wipes has been widely discussed ever since they've arrived on the market. Some poskim are lenient to use baby wipes if one does it gently and doesn't press down,[6] while others prohibit using diaper wipes entirely and give preference to wetting the baby (with oil, water, "baby shpritz" etc.) and then using a dry tissue to clean the child.[7]
  2. The older baby wipes are made from more similar to paper materials and today they are made from cotton materials.[8] Although this change according to some poskim makes using the baby wipes forbidden, nonetheless, there are some who are still lenient.[9]
  3. Most diapers have an adhesive that needs to be unfastened and then taped onto the diaper. While it is praiseworthy to to be stringent and unfasten them and then refasten them again before Shabbos[10] [hence when putting on the diaper you would not be "ripping"something that was "sewn" for over twenty four hours], one can be lenient if he failed to do so[11].

Diaper rashes

  1. In the event that the child requires cream for a diaper rash (i.e. Desitin, Balmax etc.), one may squeeze it out onto the affected area and allow the child to smear it on himself via his movement[12].

Feeding a baby

  1. It is only permissible to nurse on Shabbat if the infant feeds directly from the mother. A nursing mother who is experiencing pain may express excess milk if it goes directly to waste and is not collected in a cup or container. [13]
  2. With regard to preparing food for a child one should be careful to avoid any shailos of bishul (cooking). Therefore when preparing a bottle of (powdered or liquid) formula one should first pour in the hot water and then put in the formula[14]. This is assuming that the formula has been previously cooked to a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. One is allowed to place a bottle of milk inside a cup of boiling hot water, however one should try to make sure that the entire bottle does not go under the water in order to avoid hatmana (insulating) according to all Poskim[15].
  3. While it is permitted to nurse a child on Shabbos a woman may not pump extra milk to have for a later time as she would be transgressing the melacha of mefarek (extracting)[16]. However in the event that the woman is in pain she may express her milk directly into a sink[17]. In the event that this is not practical, the Poskim permit one to use a pump providing that there is soap or vinegar in the bottle that would immediately render the milk useless[18]. She should then pour the milk directly into the sink when she is done. If she does not have a manual pump and is in significant pain she may even ask a non-Jew to turn on an electric pump for her[19]. If she knows prior to Shabbos that she will need to express milk due to pain and she does not have a manual pump, she would be permitted, on Friday, to set her pump to turn on with a Shabbos clock[20].

Baby bottles

  1. One may clean a bottle with a bottle brush providing that the bristles are spread apart[21] and, l'chatchila, the brush should be designated just for Shabbos use[22]. One is reminded to only use cold water from the sink to avoid Bishul. [23]

Cribs & Strollers

  1. While R' Moshe Feinstein ZT"L[24] held that the hood needs to be opened one Tefach (approx. 3.75 inches) prior to Shabbos, many other Poskim[25] permitted it no matter what, claiming that there is no issue of Assiyas Ohel (making a covering). Spreading over a mosquito net is different, and would be prohibited according to all Poskim unless it was spread out a the required 3.75 inches prior to Shabbos[26].

Playpens

  1. As long as there are no screws, bolts (etc.) one may set up and dismantle a playpen, pac-n-play or carriage[27]. For carriages that come with a separate bassinet (i.e. BabyJogger, Bugaboo, Rock Star etc.), one may switch them back and forth without any Halachic concerns as long as no screws are being used. One would also be allowed to add another seat to a carriage (i.e. Phil & Ted), providing that this is done on an "everyday basis", as it would then be considered the "usual mode of use"[28].

Baby swing

  1. There is a dispute amongst the Poskim whether or not one may wind up a baby swing on Shabbos. While R' Moshe Feinstein ZT"L[29] prohibits it on the account that it is similar to winding a watch that has stopped (which is prohibited), there are many others who are lenient, as unlike a watch, when a swing is not in motion it is not considered "broken", so winding it up is not considered "fixing" it[30].

Credits

Special thanks to Rabbi Heshy Kahn for this article.

Sources

  1. Igros Moshe O.C. 1:129
  2. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11)
  3. Minchas Yitzchok 7:28, Be'er Moshe 6:51
  4. Sefer Hilchos Shabbos 8: footnote 64, B'shem R' Moshe Feinstien ZT”L
  5. Shalmai Yehudah pg. 44
  6. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11) quoting Rabbi Moshe Plutchok based on the Har Tzvi and R' Shlomo Zalmen Aurbauch Zt”l, Rabbi Mansour on Dailyhalacha.com
  7. Minchat Yitzchak 10:25, Shevet Halevi 8:59, 39 Melachos (vol 2, pg 351-3). Nishmas Shabbos 233 requires the wipes to be squeezed out prior to Shabbos to the extent that if someone touches the wipe he won't be able to moisten something else.
  8. Wikipedia entry "Wet Wipe" describes some of the history of baby wipes. It points out that originally wipes were paper clothes and today more of them are made with cotton materials. For example, Pampers wipes are made from cellulose, which is 90% of cotton, and polypropylene, which is synthetic. See also, Target wipes which are made from cotton fiber.
  9. Yalkut Yosef 2 p 90 writes that it is muter to use a diaper wipe on Shabbat. But Yalkut Yosef 2 p. 688 in a later edition he limits it to paper wipes and not cloth ones. Chazon Ovadia Shabbat v. 4 p. 148-154 says all baby wipes are permitted on Shabbat. Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 14:37 says only paper ones are muter and not cloth ones. Har Tzvi 190 is lenient about using diaper wipes made from paper. Igrot Moshe 2:70 as understood by Rivevot Efraim 6:194:3 writes that paper wipes are permitted. Chazon Ovadia writes four reasons to say why it is derabbanan:
    1. It is only a derabbanan form of disha since the paper isn't meant to be squeezed out and it is like pickles and not olives (Shabbat 145a).
    2. Also, the water goes to waste (Meor Hashabbat v. 2 p. 522 quoting Rav Shlomo Zalman).
    3. Also, it isn't gidulei karka (Rambam Shabbat 8:7). Disha is only bgedulei karka. Even if it is made with cotton it still can be called non-gedulei karka since it is so processed and it is like panim chadashot (chatom sofer 6:81 by ketamim on toilet paper).
    4. Also, it is less than a shiur of a grogeret making the isur only derabbanan (Chacham Tzvi 86). He isn't sure to use this factor because perhaps there's no shiur for sechita in this form which is normal just to squeeze out a tiny bit (Chazon Ovadia p. 150).
    • If it is only derabbanan or a double derabbanan a pesik reisha is muter (even if it is nicha leh). Also it could be that we matir derabbanans for child who is like a choleh shein bo sakana.
  10. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 16:81
  11. Sha'arim Metzuyanim L'Halacha 80:45
  12. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 33:14, 39 Melachos (v. 3, p. 922)
  13. 39 Melachos (vol 2, pg 356)
  14. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 1:49 footnote 138, Shar Hatzion 318:96
  15. Taz 258:1, M.B. 258:2, Shar Hatzion 258: 5
  16. S.A. 328:34, Bh”L D”h V’Tineck
  17. S.A. 330:8
  18. Taz 320:12, Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 36:20 footnote 61
  19. S.A. 328:17
  20. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11) quoting Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz, Shlita. Although if one can secure for themselves a manual pump that would be more Halachically preferable as R' Y.S. Elyashiv was under the impression that by using the electric pump you are causing the motor to work harder. Therefore even when one would rely on this heter one should secure the pump onto oneself prior to the time that the machine is set to go on
  21. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 12:footnote 45
  22. M.B. 303:87, Igros Moshe O.C. 2:88
  23. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11)
  24. Igros Moshe O.C. 4:105:3
  25. Chazon Ish O.C. 52:6, Be'er Moshe 6:87
  26. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 24:9, Shevet Halaivi 3:54
  27. Be'er Moshe 3:85
  28. Rabbi Heshy Kahn (What's Doing, Greater Connecticut, 3/3/11) heard from R' Plutchok Shlita
  29. Sefer Tiltulai Shabbos 1: footnote 36
  30. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 17:39