Giving your baby a bath is one of those things that seems like it should be so simple. A little water, a little soap, a soft washcloth, and you’re done, right? Unfortunately, lots of things can go wrong. Giving the perfect baby bath is important, because it will make your little one look forward to baths instead of dreading them. Babies all react differently to water; you want this to be as comfortable and fun of an experience as possible. Here are some tips we’ve learned along the way about giving the perfect baby bath.
Bath Safety Tips
First, a few things that you probably know already about baby bath safety:
- Never, ever leave your baby alone in or near the bathtub while there’s any water in it. Babies can drown so quickly, and so easily. Promise yourself that you won’t leave to answer the phone or the door, to do a load of laundry, or anything. Besides, you should enjoy your baby’s bath time, too.
Probably the biggest threat to your baby’s head is the big metal water spout featured in most bathtubs. It’s right at the level where your baby will crack his or her head (or get poked in the eye). Get a playful spout cover — like the ever-popular whale — and then the spout becomes a toy instead of a hazard.
- Watch for slips and falls. Wet, hard surfaces in the bathroom can cause either you or your baby (or both) to slip. The bathtub and floor are the most common slip areas.
Setting Up the Baby Bath
It’s always better to get the bath set up ahead of time, so that you’re not juggling a crying (and possibly naked) baby while trying to get everything ready. We usually divide and conquer: one of us goes up to get the bath ready, while the other starts herding the kids upstairs.
The Baby Bathtub
Until your baby reaches the toddler years, you’ll probably want a little baby bathtub that you can set on the table or inside the larger bathtub. I’ll give you a few reasons why:
- Baby bathtubs are softer than the hard ceramic/porcelain tubs, so they’re safer against bumps and bruises.
- They take much less water to fill, so it’s a faster and easier process.
- Only the baby fits in the tub, so his or her parents/siblings/pets won’t get it dirty
Of course, you do have to store the baby bathtub, which is why I like the Naked Baby Collapsible Tub from Boon.
Get Yourself Comfortable
One of our biggest complaints about giving the baby a bath is that it’s physically demanding: you have to kneel on a hard surface, bend over the tub edge, lift a wet squirming baby… it’s a lot of work. Therefore you’re better off making the bath as comfortable for you as it is for the baby.
I highly recommend getting a thick floor mat or the whale bath kneeler shown in the header image to save your knees. Equally useful is a bathtub elbow rest that cushions your arm while you bathe and lift the baby.
Find the Right Water Temperature for Baby
Getting the water temperature right is probably the trickiest thing for me personally. Maybe our faucet just doesn’t have the finesse of control necessary to hit that perfect temperature, which is generally between 90-95 degrees Fahrenheit.
A good baby bath thermometer like the Aquatopia audible thermometer is a must for each and every bath; sure, it will tell you if the water’s too cold, but more importantly it will tell you if the water is too hot for a baby. The wrong temp either way is going to make the bath uncomfortable. Keep in mind also that bath water will cool over time, especially if you spend a lot of time playing.
Giving Baby the Bath
Now that the bath is ready, the water’s just right, and you’re as comfortable as possible, it’s baby time! Here are some tips for getting the most out of the experience:
- Ease your baby in, feet or bottom first. Let them play a bit before getting them wet. Usually you want to save the hair and face washing for the very end, as most babies won’t enjoy this.
- Soaking the bottom is one of the most important parts of the bath. At least five minutes in the warm, soapy water will help with diaper rashes and other discomfort.
- Use a soft washcloth and make sure you get all of the nooks and crannies, especially under the chin and around the neck, as well as the diaper area (under and around everything). Ask your spouse for guidance if the anatomy of what needs to be cleaned is, you know, not as familiar.
The washing part can be a lot of fun for you and your baby, especially if you have a cute wash mitt like the ducky one at left. You get to tickle and wash your baby at the same time. Remember, you want this to come off as a fun and special activity, not a chore.
Don’t forget to have some fun bath toys to pass the time as well. We like the soft, squeezy ones that are shaped like different animals (each of which can have a different voice and personality, if you’re into that sort of thing). Remember to squeeze all of the water out and hang them up to dry when you’re finished. Munchkin’s bath toy organizer set is a good choice for this, because it includes a drying net that hangs in the corner.
When the Bath is Over
It’s tempting to make the bath go too long, especially when you and your baby are having a lot of fun. But once the baby is clean and the water starts to cool, it’s time to wrap up. If your baby protests, it’s a good thing – it means you’ve made the bath an enjoyable activity, and it will be welcomed in the future.
There may be some crying, especially when you pluck your little one out of the warm water. The most important thing to do is have a soft, fluffy towel waiting. We love the hooded animal towels because they keep the head warm. After that, the most important thing is to have warm milk waiting at the diaper changer. This comforts and distracts the little one while you get him or her dried off, diapered, and dressed.
Within a couple of minutes, your baby will be comfortably snuggled in bed. Probably fast asleep. Remember to hang the toys, wash cloths, and towels up to dry afterward.
Why not take a bath yourself? You deserve it!