Forget about the towel-lined sink you were probably bathed in as a baby. Although that’s certainly still an option, there are plenty of portable bathtubs on the market these days that make the job of bathing your baby a whole lot easier – and more fun for both of you.

A baby bathtub provides an appropriately compact place for bathing. It can be placed in a sink, in a regular bathtub, on a counter or kitchen table, or right on the floor. However, if you put the tub anywhere higher than the floor, be sure to keep a hand on your baby at all times. With water around, bathtubs have a way of slipping and sliding.

Many of today’s tubs have a removable mesh inner cradle so baby can’t slide around too much. Others have a slip-resistant padded lining that allows a baby who can’t sit up yet to relax in a semi-upright position. You’ll use a baby bathtub for less time than you may think. At around 6 month old, when your baby can sit up, he or she should no longer be bathed in an infant tub that sits in the sink. Instead, transfer baby to a slightly longer tub.

Bath Basics

Before we get into the specifics of what’s on the market, here are a few bath-time tips. For starters, don’t worry about giving your baby a bath right away. Bathing, doesn’t officially start until the stump of your baby’s umbilical cord falls off (about two weeks post-delivery). After that milestone, you can give your baby a bath every day if you like, although two to three times a week is a better idea because daily bathing can dry out your baby’s tender skin. In addition to the tub, you’ll need a soft towel (preferably hooded to cradle your baby’s head), a baby washcloth, and baby body wash that doubles as shampoo to complete the mission.

There are a variety of baby bathtubs on the market. Keep in mind that just about any tub you buy will be awkward to use at first, mainly because bathing a squirmy baby – who may dislike temperature changes and being put in water – is awkward in itself. Expect your baby to protest the first time or two. After that, your baby will probably grow to enjoy bath time – and so will you. Also remember that your constant presence and attention is necessary any time your baby is in the bath.

Buy a bathtub made for a baby 6 month or younger that features a contoured design or an internal sling that cradles your baby in the water. Mildew-resistant pads are also a plus, although to prevent mildew and soap-scum buildup, you’ll still have to clean the tub after each use. Tubs that convert and grow with your baby until age 2 or so are also a good idea.


What’s Available

What many mothers absolutely love about this Shnuggle Baby Bath Tub is that it grows with their babies. It’s sturdy enough to support a newborn, and will transition with baby to supported sitting. It has grips on the feet so it doesn’t slide all over the bathtub like a lot of other models. It also has a padded bump in the back of the tub which is great for supporting baby, allowing you to still be able to use both hands, which is extremely helpful. The backrest also stays warm, so you never have to worry about laying your baby against cold plastic. The tub is also really lightweight, making it easy to bring along when you travel.

Price: $34.93

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The Boon Naked Collapsible Baby Bathtub is also another excellent product. It has a very simple one piece design, so you never have to worry about losing any pieces. The bathtub collapses down flat and comes with a storage hook; storing this tub is never a problem. It doesn’t take up much room at all as well. It has two different support positions, making it perfect to transition between baby and toddler. No need to buy a new tub as your baby grows. It also has a slip resistant base, so it doesn’t slide all over the bathtub. The straightforward design also makes it super easy to clean, drain plug for quick, complete water drainage and prevent mold. No nooks and crannies to scrub out. That’s a major advantage for parents that are already short on time.

Price: $39.44

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The Skip Hop Moby Bath Smart has a 3-stage tub that transitions made naturally with your baby. It has a polyester sling that supports newborns snugly and can hold a child up to 25lbs. It has two positions – one to cradle tiny newborns and a more upright position to help support little ones that are learning to sit up on their own. When the time comes that your little one can sit upright unassisted, the sling is removable. It also stores very easily, as it comes with a hook to hang from the shower head. So it doesn’t take up any of that precious bathroom floor space. It also has non-slip grips, so no slipping around in the tub while you’re trying to wrestle with a slippery baby.

Price: $24.00

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If you want the most classic look that does all the necessary function, then PRIMO EuroBath supports little ones all the way to 2 years old. It is the largest baby bath available, giving you literal years of use out of it. It’s made out of durable BPA-free plastic, which makes it super easy to clean, and no mold risks. It has super convenient little storage compartments for soap, washcloths and toys. So everything you need is literally right there. No more fumbling around trying to get everything you need while holding on to baby in the tub. It also has an anatomical shape with lots of support for baby’s body, arms and legs, helping to ensure that they never slip under water.

Price: $24.99

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The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe tub is the most economical among all other we have mentioned, but it still works great for newborns and toddlers. It’s deep design holds baby comfortably with lots of support. It has a mesh sling for the little babies to give extra support and a padded headrest for added comfort. All of the pads are mildew-resistant and the sling is machine washable AND dryable. This things virtually can’t get mold and mildew. It also grows with your baby. When they’re old enough to no longer need the support, the sling is removable. This tub also has a drain plug that changes color if the water is too hot for baby. So parents can rest assured that they’ll never be putting their precious little one in a tub full of too-hot water.

Price: $17.98

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Be there Always

A baby can drown in as little as 1 inch of water, and each year there are numerous reports of drowning that could easily have been prevented – if, for example, the caregiver hadn’t left the bathroom to get the phone or answer the doorbell. Never leave your infant unattended in a tub – even for a minute. If the phone rings, let it go to the voice box. If there is a knock on the door, ignore it. Child is more important. Always have your baby within arm’s reach.

You’ll also need to be careful about scalding water. Before you place baby in the tub, the water should feel warm, not hot. Use your elbow, it is not likely to be used to hotter water as your palms are. When using a baby bathtub in the sink or in a regular tub, always turn the hot water off first and watch out for hot metal spigots. Swoosh the water around with your hand so that any hot spots even out. Although there are bath water thermometers you can buy or tubs that take the guesswork out of temperature control ( the drain plug changes colour if water too hot for baby). Your wrist or elbow should suffice.

Also make sure you have everything you need on hand before you start the bath. You don’t want to have to scurry for, say, a washcloth or towel while baby is in the tub.


Don’t buy a bath seat

There’s one baby-bathing product you should absolutely avoid. That’s a bath seat or bath ring. It is simply a plastic baby seat with suction cups on the bottom to attach to the adult bathtub. Suppose to make your life easier, but there are too many risks to go this road.


Features to Consider

Contoured design with slip-resistant padded lining

In lieu of a sling, a contoured design is a must for keeping baby from sliding around too much; baby can still slip and slide, though, so you may want to pop in an additional foam cushion, which sold separately.

A drain with attached plug

This can make the tub easier to empty. One that’s on the large slide allows for quicker post-bath cleanup.

Foldability

Some tabs collapse in two like a suitcase for easier storage. To make sure the tub won’t leak, practice at first with a small amount of water.

An internal mesh sling/cradle

It’s cozy and supportive, especially for a newborn. Some models have an adjustable pillow that attaches to the sling, an added comfort.

A rounded crotch projection

This feature can keep baby in a safer and more comfortable position.

Shower curtain or towel hook

Some models have a hook on the back to hang the tub up for draining or storage.

A smooth, overhanging rim

This feature makes it much easier to carry a heavy, water-filled tub from the sink to another location for bathing.

Suction cups

Some models have suction cups that attache the unit to the bottom of a regular bathtub.

Temperature monitor

If you’re worried about getting your baby’s bath water just right, some models have drain plugs that change color to alert you if the water is too hot for a baby.