Last updated: June 8, 2017
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. Or you can just opt for your good old bathtub plus the use of laundry basket.
A baby bath tub 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.
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. However, the best recommendation is to bathe your baby two to three times a week 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.
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.
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.
This can make the tub easier to empty. One that’s on the large slide allows for quicker post-bath cleanup.
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.
It’s cozy and supportive, especially for a newborn. Some models have an adjustable pillow that attaches to the sling, an added comfort.
This feature can keep baby in a safer and more comfortable position.
Some models have a hook on the back to hang the tub up for draining or storage.
This feature makes it much easier to carry a heavy, water-filled tub from the sink to another location for bathing.
Some models have suction cups that attache the unit to the bottom of a regular bathtub.
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.