How to Give Baby a Bath - Babylist
How to Give Your Baby a Bath
September 15, 2020

How to Give Your Baby a Bath

How to Give Your Baby a Bath

Is the thought of baby bath time stressing you out? Between worrying about the right water temperature to figuring out which type of bathtub is best, thinking about bathing your little one can be a little overwhelming, especially the first time around.

The good news? It’s not as scary as it may seem. (We promise!) We’re taking you through bath time bootcamp, including choosing a tub, how to bathe your little one step-by-step and the gear we love to keep your little one safe, comfortable and happy while they’re splashing away.

Step One: Choose Your Tub

There a few factors to consider when choosing a baby bathtub, but the two biggest are your baby’s age and the amount of space you have in your home.

Sink baths—inserts that rest inside your sink—are a great choice for younger babies who may feel overwhelmed in a regular tub (and for nervous new parents who may feel just as overwhelmed!). They’re also a great choice if you live in a smaller home and don’t want to maneuver around a giant plastic baby bath every time you head into your bathroom to brush your teeth.

The Lotus and the Boon Soak are two of our favorites in this category. Just make sure they fit properly into the sink you’re planning on bathing your baby in before you buy.

If you like the idea of saving a bit of space but still want a standalone tub option, collapsible tubs make a good choice. These tubs can be used alone or inside a regular bathtub and either collapse or fold for easy storage (some even include a hook for hanging), making them ideal for homes with less storage space.

We love the OXO Tot Splash & Store option for its modern design and two-position recline, and the Stokke Flexi that works through the toddler years and folds completely flat when not in use.

If storage isn’t an issue, then a standard baby bathtub may be the right option for you. Some baby bathtubs include a sling feature to safely support infants and younger babies; you’ll want to use it for your newborn and younger baby, then remove it once your little one gets a bit stronger. Other bathtubs like the Beaba Shnuggle Baby Bath don’t require a sling for younger babies because of the tub’s small base (just enough room for baby’s lower half; no room for baby’s upper half to slide down into tub).

Keep in mind that if you’re planning on using a baby tub inside your regular bathtub, there are a few key accessories worth having on hand to keep you and your little one safe and comfortable. This Bathtime Essentials bundle from Skip Hop covers them all, especially the spout cover and the kneeling pad—two items we wouldn’t want to do bathtime without.

Step Two: Just Add Water

You can’t have a bath without some water! While your little one is in a safe space, head over to the sink or your tub and fill either with a few inches with water. There should be enough water to dip a washcloth into, but not much more than that.

Temperature-wise, you’re going for water that’s warm but not too warm—you don’t want your baby to be chilly, but you don’t want to risk a burn, either. This can be pretty nerve wracking if you’re a new parent, which is why we love the White Hot Ducky from Munchkin. It’s a bath toy that doubles as a temperature gauge; “hot” appears in white letters on the bottom of the duck if it senses the water is too warm. All for under three bucks—genius!

Step Three: Scrub-a-Dub

Now it’s time to get scrubbing.

  • Get organized. Make sure everything you need—washcloth, towel, soap etc.—is within arm’s reach before you start bath time.
  • Scrub, scrub. Use a washcloth and a small amount of soap to gently wash your little one from head to toe. (Leave private parts for last so you don’t spread any bacteria elsewhere on their body.) A little soap goes a long way, so don’t overdo it. If your baby looks a bit unstable, use one hand to wash and the other to gently support your little one’s body.
  • Get warm and dry. Once you’re done, lift your baby out of the tub (carefully—they’re slippery!) and wrap them in a soft towel. We love hooded options as they’re extra warm and comfy.

A few other pro tips:

  • There’s no set time of day when baby “should” get a bath. While baths are great for kicking off a nighttime routine once babies are past the newborn days, do what works for you in terms of your schedule and your little one’s mood.
  • Babies don’t need a bath every day. As long as you’re keeping dirt-prone areas clean (diaper, face, hands, neck, etc.), you’re all good.
  • There’s also no need to wash your little one’s hair at every bath; simply wetting their head down with a washcloth will get the job done.
  • Babies get cold easily. Try resting a washcloth over your little one’s body to help them stay warm during a bath.

Here are a few of our favorite bath time supplies, plus a bathtub caddy to keep it all close at hand while you bathe baby:

Tips for Bathing Older Babies

While bath time can seem stressful during those early days, we promise it will soon turn into one of the best parts of your day when your baby gets a bit older. Most older babies love to splash and play in the water.

Most parents transition their little one to the regular tub around the time they can sit up, which is usually between about 7 and 9 months old. This is when a bath seat can come in really handy. Bath seats give newly independent (and very slippery) babies a safe spot in the tub, freeing up your hands for scrubbing. Summer’s My Bath Seat has three sturdy arms and provides 360° of support for your little one.

Once your older baby or toddler is ready to explore the full range of the bath tub, be sure to invest in a good bath mat so they don’t slip and slide around on the bare tub bottom (and it’ll help you keep a steady foothold in the bath and shower, too).

A few other tips for bath time with your older babe:

  • Always keep the water level low, just covering your little one’s legs.
  • Never leave your baby alone in the tub, even if it’s only for a few seconds.
  • Add some toys to turn up the fun. We love Skip Hop Stack and Pour Buckets and the Munchkin Bath Letters & Numbers Set. And don’t forget a drainable toy bin to scoop all the toys out of the water and keep them neatly stored.

And remember—almost every baby goes through a phase where bath time isn’t their thing. Don’t stress, because it’s totally normal! Try your best to keep things fun with toys, songs and whatever else you need to do to keep bath time meltdowns at a minimum.

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