Baby Bathtub: What Parents Need to Know About Baby Bath Seats and Tubs

    Published 29 July 2020
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant
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    Spending time and bonding with a new baby can be very fulfilling, and one of the most fun and intimate ways to bond is with a bath. Most babies love water, but it’s important to be extra careful and attentive during bathtime. A baby bathtub can help you bathe your infant safely. We’ve collected some helpful information to help you find the right baby bath supports for your little one.

    Is a baby bathtub necessary?

    Some parents choose to bathe their baby in the family bathtub, but specially designed baby bathtubs can be a safer option. Other parents choose to shower with their baby, but holding a wiggly little one and standing in a wet shower can also be challenging and risky.

    Other parents bathe their babies in a sink, using a baby bath seat insert that cradles the baby’s body and adds support. For a lot of parents, a special baby bathtub is a great option.

    Baby bathtubs are made with your baby's safety in mind. Most infant bathtub pieces have anti-slip surfaces that can help keep your baby upright in the tub. Since newborns can’t hold their heads up, it’s imperative to bathe them in a smaller vessel that’s designed to support and contain them more easily than an adult-sized bathtub.

    Always make sure that you watch your baby at all times in the infant bathtub. Never leave your child unattended in the bath.

    Your baby’s comfort is also essential. Most babies love water, and giving them a comforting space to splash and play adds enjoyment to the cleaning experience. Having a baby bath chair that you can place at countertop height may be easier for new parents, especially just after delivery, as there’s no need to bend or hunch over.

    Baby bathtubs are also convenient. They can be easily cleaned by wiping them down with a cleansing wipe or warm soapy water. When you bathe a baby in the kitchen sink or communal bathtub, make sure to thoroughly scrub the area before putting the baby in it.

    Types of baby bathtubs

    The right infant bathtub or baby bath seat depends on how old your baby is, where you’re able to bathe your baby, and how much space you have. Here’s a quick rundown of the most common baby bathtub options:

    • Sink-insert children’s bathtubs are foam inserts that you can fit into your sink to create a protected space to bathe the baby. These are helpful because you can stand upright when bathing your baby, rather than having to crouch on the side of the bathtub. Plus, when not in use, the inserts can be folded down for easy storage. Sink-insert baby bath seats can be used from infancy through about six months old.
    • Basin baby bathtubs are standalone mini-tubs that can either be used in your kitchen sink or the bathtub, depending on their size. These can accommodate larger babies up to the toddler stage (about two years old).
    • Convertible tubs are adjustable and can grow along with your baby, converting from a sling that fully supports your newborn when they’re unable to hold their head up to a bigger tub that allows a larger, older baby to sit upright.

    All this being said, babies grow fast. Many of the best baby bathtubs are customizable and have options for safety that change as your baby grows, such as sit-assisted rings or safety bars that you can adjust as your baby grows.

    What to look for in a baby bathtub

    Safety is the first element you should consider when selecting a baby bath seat. There are a few things that you need to look for with a baby bathtub. Always keep in mind where you’ll be using the tub, whether it’s the kitchen sink, on the changing table, or in your own bathtub. Location makes a big difference when it comes to picking the right baby bathtub for you. Here are the most important safety features a bathing seat should have:

    • Non-skid surfaces both in the tub itself and outside, to ensure the tub doesn’t move around when your baby is splashing and wiggling
    • Smooth, rounded edges to reduce the risk of bruising if the baby slips
    • Convertible flexibility as your baby grows 
    • Portability, especially if you want to bathe your baby in the sink when they’re small and later in the bathtub
    • Ease of draining and cleaning, as mold and mildew can build up in a tub that doesn’t drain well, and many new parents don’t want to pick up a full tub of water, particularly immediately postpartum

    If you don’t have a lot of space, consider purchasing a soft, foldable baby bathtub or a collapsible sink insert that has a hook or hanger for easy drying and storage. Fully inflatable baby bathtubs may not be the best choice. Although inflatable tubs are a great space-saver, they also have a much higher instance of tipping over, which can be dangerous.

    Most babies outgrow baby bathtubs by the time they’re six months old. To keep up with your baby’s changing needs, a convertible tub with a sitting assistant that has suction cups can be a great option, allowing you to bathe your baby in the “big kid” bathtub.

    How much does a baby bathtub cost?

    Baby bathtubs can cost between $15 and $45. The cost depends on the features you’re looking for and your preferences. Folding or travel tubs are generally less expensive, ranging from $10 to $20. Larger, convertible baby bathtubs can cost close to $40. Shower/tub bathing combinations, which use your home’s shower or bath water, are generally the most expensive and have hose attachments that connect to your faucets.

    How to bathe a baby in a bathtub

    Getting ready to bathe your baby means first assembling your supplies. You’ll need soft washcloths, gentle soap, and a soft brush or comb. A hooded cotton towel also provides  protection. Babies tend to lose body heat faster than older children and adults through their heads, so placing the hood over the baby’s head while drying and diapering them is essential. You can also carefully trim your baby’s nails while they’re in the tub and their fingernails and toenails are softer.

    Once your baby is out of the tub, you can apply a baby massage oil or gentle body lotion, which can soothe babies’ delicate skin.

    Once the umbilical stump has fallen off and any circumcision wounds have healed, it’s safe to submerge the baby in water for their bath. Gather all your supplies and fill your baby bathtub with a few inches of warm water. The water should feel slightly warmer than your skin (about 100 degrees Fahrenheit).

    Gently lower the baby into the tub, ensuring that their head is supported and that they’re carefully placed on the baby sling. First, gently clean your baby’s face with a washcloth, then wash their body with warm soap and water.

    As your baby gets bigger, they may develop chubby rolls, and it’s important to gently wipe between these folds to prevent yeast infections. Dirt and dead skin can also lead to skin irritations. When cleaning your baby’s genitals, make sure to wash their vagina from front to back. Also, avoid using soap on the vagina, as this can cause irritation.

    Quickly and gently pat your baby dry after bathing. Too much exposure to air after a bath can harm your baby or irritate their skin.

    When can a baby use a regular bathtub?

    Your child can bathe in a regular bathtub when they’re fully able to walk. Some parents also like to wait until they’re potty-trained before bathing their child in a regular bathtub. It’s not a requirement, but you might not want to clean up the mess!

    History of updates

    Current version (29 July 2020)

    Reviewed by Olga Adereyko, MD, Primary Care Physician, General Practitioner, Medical Consultant

    Published (29 July 2020)

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