Baby bath time essentials
- Types of baby baths, bath seats and bath accessories explained
- Bath time essentials checklist for you and baby
- Safety advice for bathing your baby
Baby's bath time
Bath time is a great opportunity for mums and dads to bond with their babies and toddlers, but it can be nerve-racking the very first time.
Here's what you need to know - and buy - to make your baby's bath time enjoyable, comfortable and safe.
Bathing your baby
A baby bath is not a must-have baby product, but it can be helpful, particularly during the early weeks. A baby bath enables you to bathe your baby without having to stoop over the main bath and allows you to wash your baby in the nursery rather than a chilly bathroom.
Alternatively, you could save money by bathing your baby in the kitchen sink or a washing-up bowl lined with a towel or foam bath support. Some parents like to have a bath with their baby in their regular tub.
Types of baby bath
There are a few varieties of standalone baby baths to choose from - the one you choose comes down to personal preference and how well your baby takes to it.
Standard baby bath
These are lightweight and usually made of plastic. They can be used to bathe your baby in whichever room you want. Prices start from less than £10.
Pros: Portable and can be raised to sit on a secure table.
Cons: Can be awkward to store and has a limited life span.
Baby baths usually have a fixed shape, but if you're looking for something that can pack up flat and be stored away, take a look at our review of the Flexibath, a folding baby bath.
Rest-on-rim baby baths
These have a wide rim or supports that fit securely onto your bathtub, with a plug hole to let water out, or can be used as a standalone bath. Prices start from around £20.
Pros: Better for you because your baby is raised up so you don't have to bend over the bath.
Cons: Tend to be more expensive than basic baths and still only have a limited life span.
Upright baby baths
Upright or 'bucket' style baby baths, such as the Tummy Tub, allows your baby to be washed in a sitting or foetal position rather than in a lying position. Prices start at around £20.
Pros: Helps some babies feel more secure; uses less water and space.
Cons: Limited space inside the bath for playing; some babies find it constricting.
Baby bath seats
Bath seats are secured to the bottom of your main bathtub with a nonslip base and are designed for babies who can already sit up by themselves (usually at around six-months old) to play in the bath in a secure sitting position.
This type of bath seat is not to be confused with bath supports for newborn and small babies. These are usually soft, foam supports so your baby isn't fully immersed and their head is supported above the water line.
Both allow you to leave your hands free to wash your baby.
Pros: Your baby is secure, your hands are free to wash your baby.
Cons: Not all babies like being held in, can be difficult to wash your baby in areas where they're secured in, needs to be completely dried out afterwards to avoid mildew.
Bath time checklist
Keep it simple - you don't need much to comfortably bathe your baby, but the following are essential:
- cotton wool to cleanse your baby's face
- a towel or hooded baby 'cuddle robe'
- fresh nappy
- sponge or flannel
- simple bath soap formulated for babies - newborn babies don't need any bath products, just warm water.
Our guide to baby equipment you need has a checklist of all the essential products and items you'll need for your baby.
The NHS advises that you don't need to bath your baby daily, but you should aim for at least two to three times a week, or more often if your baby enjoys it. You should 'top and tail' them - washing your baby's face, neck, hands and bottom - every day. You can do this with two separate bowls of water (or a single bowl with two 'top and tail' compartments) and cotton wool balls.
It's easier to wash your baby's face before putting him or her into the bath - use warm water (no soap) and cotton wool for this.
Baby bath safety tips
Never leave a baby or young child alone in or near a bath, even for a moment. Accidents can happen in a few seconds and a baby can drown in just 2.5cm or an inch of water. Bathe your baby at a quiet time of the day in your household, when you're less likely to be disturbed.
Keeping a firm grip on a slippery baby takes time to master. It's vital you keep a young baby's head supported with one hand while you use the other to wash them.
Scalding is another potential bath time hazard. Firstly, ensure the bath water is warm but not too hot - use a bath thermometer or the good-old fashioned 'elbow in the water' technique.
If you're bathing your baby in the main bath, tap covers or guards (usually priced under £10) will protect your baby from burning themselves on the hot tap, or from hitting their head - plus will double up as a bath pillow for adults.