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Top 10 Baby Bath Time Essentials

December 6, 2011

Splish splash, let’s take a bath!  Bath time is a central component of a relaxing bedtime routine.  It signals the transition from an event filled day to a restful night’s sleep.  And it’s just plain fun!  Here’s what you need, where to buy it, and why these essentials best equip you and your baby to fully enjoy bath time!

What to buy

#1 The First Years Infant to Toddler Bath Tub with Sling 

#1 Safety 1st Inflatable Tub

#1 Safety 1st Bath Tub Seat

#2 Aden + Anais Large Muslin Wash Cloths

#3 Plush Hooded Towels

#4 Earth’s Best by Jason Organic 2-in-1 Shampoo & Body Wash, Lavender

#5 Boon Spout Cover

#6 Sassy Squirt Toys

#7 Munchkin Shampoo Hair Rinser

#8 Munchkin White HOT Safety Duck

#9 Mesh Toy Holder

#10 3-in-1 Sit, Stand and Store Tub Side Seat

#11 No Slip Tub Mat

Where to buy

For the items in today’s list, I shopped at,,, Buy Buy Baby, and Target.  For more about where I like to shop for all things baby, check out Where to buy.

Why to buy

Of course babies don’t need a daily rigorous washing, but as a believer in the benefits of a predictable routine, I bathe my children nightly.  (Read item #2 under Why it’s so important in 5 Practical Tips to Finding Contentment as a Stay-at-Home Mom for more on this idea.)  Most importantly, do not leave baby unattended in the bath under any circumstance.  This means being within arm’s reach at all times.  Gather everything you might possibly need to attend to baby before placing her in the tub.  If you forget the shampoo, skip washing baby’s hair and just enjoy more splash time.

#1 Choose a sturdy inclined tub with a removable mesh liner for use during the first few weeks – this keeps baby’s belly out of the water while the umbilical cord heals.  If you already have a tub without the mesh sling, line it with a foam insert or folded up bath towels.  Remove the sling when the umbilical cord is fully healed. It is easiest on you to stand and bathe baby in her tub on a countertop or in the sink.  And fun for baby to see herself in the mirror.  She won’t recognize her own reflection for several months, but will still be amused by her cute bath time playmate.  If you don’t have the counter or sink space, place the infant tub inside a regular bath tub.  Do not fill the full size tub with water and ensure the drain is open to prevent the baby tub from turning into a dangerous tipsy boat.  Flip over to dry after each use and clean regularly to prevent mold and mildew.  While I used The First Years Infant to Toddler Tub with Sling successfully with both children in the infant stage, I did not continue with it once they could sit upright.

#1 Transition to the inflatable tub once baby sits up unassisted.  It reminds me of a backyard kiddie pool and your little one will love the additional room to kick and splash.  This is when baby really begins to enjoy bath toys too.  The inflatable tub is great for travel, and I used it with my oldest son even when he’d outgrown it for convenience sake.

#1 Use a bath seat with caution.  (search “baby bath seat deaths” online or read this article first) My first son easily moved into the full size bath tub after outgrowing the inflatable one without a seat.  He was about 12 months and fully mobile.  I am using a Safety 1st seat with my second son, 8 months old, because I’m bathing both boys together and can’t keep a hand on him at all times.  While I appreciate its usefulness, I worry that I may succumb to the false sense of security it provides.  Bath seats have a very short life span (sitting upright unassisted – pulling up) and are entirely unnecessary with one child.

#2 Choose large wash cloths made of a soft fabric like muslin.  Unlike even the expensive terry loop cotton wash cloths, muslin grows softer after several washings.  Dip in the warm bath water and place over baby’s belly and on top of her head in the infant tub to keep her little body warm.  Repeat as necessary to prevent the opposite effect.  Place warm wash cloths on baby’s back once she is sitting upright in the tub.  During the umbilical cord healing sponge bath stage, keep baby’s body warm with a small receiving blanket or towel and only uncover each section as you wash it.

#3 Use a plush cotton hooded towel against your infant’s delicate skin.  Keep baby’s head covered until his hair is completely dry.

#4 Choose a mildly scented or fragrance-free combination shampoo/body wash.  Lavender and chamomile are naturally relaxing aromatherapies.  And are nice for you too this time of day!  Whatever you decide upon, consider using the same scent lotion too.  Read product ingredients and select washes and lotions with minimal to no chemical ingredients.  I also only buy those not tested on animals.  (I aspire to California Baby, but it’s just too expensive.)  Be observant of baby’s skin, looking out for any adverse reactions to product ingredients.

#5 Once you are bathing baby in the full size tub, be sure to use a spout cover to protect baby’s head.  Wash it as needed to combat mold.

#6 Plastic squirt toys provide ample bath time entertainment the first year and beyond.  Unfortunately they also are prone to mold and bacteria.  I’ve bought several brands of soft plastic bath toys and have not found any that do not eventually grow mold.  Check toys frequently and in detail as mold grows inside the squirt toys as evidenced by a black ring around the “squirt” opening.  Dry them off after each use and wash regularly.  Once mold appears, it does not wash off in the dishwasher or by hand with the harshest of chemicals.   I throw toys out at the first signs of mold.  Especially since they spend so much time in a teething baby’s mouth, gross!   If this is just too disgusting for you, stick with hard plastic toys as this article suggests.  My boys both enjoy these stackable duck cups.

#7 A shampoo rinser keeps soap out of baby’s eyes.  There is no such thing as tear-free formula.  This also breeds mold so dry it out thoroughly after each use. 

#8 Use the HOT duck as an additional gauge for the water temperature.  What feels good to you, may be scalding to your little one.  Fill the tub before sitting baby inside; do not run water with baby in the tub to prevent accidentally burning baby’s skin.

#9 The mesh toy holder allows air to circulate through wet toys after bath time.  I’m completely freaked out by mold; can you tell?

#10 This combination storage bin/seat/step stool is great for storing everything for the bath except wet toys.  The product description says it allows for air circulation, but not enough.  The height is adjustable by flipping the lid, making for a convenient bath side adult seat.  My toddler also uses it as a step stool to reach the bathroom sink.   

#11 Use a non-slip bath mat once baby is bathing in the full size tub.  I have not found “the one” – natural rubber, machine washable, and mold proof!  So I just buy inexpensive ones, hang them up to dry after each use, and replace them after I can’t thoroughly clean them any longer. 

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