Taking A Bath With Your Baby: When & How To Do It

Last Updated On: 

June 11, 2018

Splish, splash, bring the baby into the bath! While you’ve likely heard this popular oldie-but-goody, have you ever considered sharing your bath-time with your little one? Does your heart skip a beat when you imagine your tiny bundle of joy in the grown-up tub?

Research has shown that bathing with your baby is a good thing. Much of our brain development occurs when we’re very young, and you want to take advantage of this period by giving your child a safe, stimulating place to play.

A properly prepared bath is key to a fun time, so double check before jumping in.

Even if you have taken a bath with your little one before, it’s a good idea to review safety tips every so often. Bath time should be fun and safe for everyone involved. Giggles and splashes are guaranteed, so what are you waiting for?

Safety First: Can You Bathe With Your Baby?

The experts weigh in, and the result is yes! You can safely bathe with an infant if you’re willing to take some common-sense precautions. You may wonder why anyone would want to take a bath with their baby, but one advantage is clear—your baby has a new space to explore.

Bath time is a chance for your baby to visit an exciting new world. Bubbles float instead of sink and toys do strange things. The feeling of warm water on their body and your comforting presence will create a positive experience.

Other Advantages To Hopping Into The Tub With Your Child Include:

1) TOUCH. Touch is essential for emotional and cognitive development, and when you touch your baby’s skin, you stimulate the vagus nerve, which makes them relax. Families that practice affectionate touch tend to have less aggressive children, according to developmental psychologist Tiffany Field.

2) QUALITY TIME. We all need to wash off, but take advantage of this time and spend it wholly focused on your baby and his or her needs.

You are probably your baby’s favorite person, and he or she wants to be cuddled and held by you. Practicing skin-to-skin has been shown to increase IQ and neurodevelopment. These moments of hugging and kissing can have positive, lifelong effects.

Keeping your baby close is good for you, too, by reducing stress and promoting bonding.

Don’t Over-Do It, Though

While bathing is necessary, your baby isn’t a kitten. They don’t need to be wiped down and cleaned from top to bottom every day. Too much bathing can cause dry skin and irritation.

Also, be cautious of bath salts, strong soaps, or bath oils. Using products geared for babies is always best.

At What Age Can Babies Take A Bath?

Before you fill the tub, take a step back and decide if your baby is ready for a real bath. Has the umbilical cord dropped off, and is the belly button (navel) healed? Boys who are circumcised should also be healed entirely.

There isn’t a specific age range for when a baby is ready to explore the big tub in the safety of your arms. You know your child best. If your baby cries and seems upset, you might want to try again later.

One useful tip we can give you is to try to time your bath after your baby has had a dirty diaper. You might be less likely to face a messy cleanup!

If your baby has specific medical conditions that don’t allow them to get wet, you’ll have to skip the bath for now. Skin-to-skin is always a good idea, though.

How To Shower With Baby & Ensure A Good Experience

To make bath time a success, you need to be in tune with your little one’s needs, and they may not be feeling it. If so, don’t be discouraged. Your baby will always need another bath, and you always try again later.

Try to set yourself up for a good time by having everything you need ready beforehand.

Items you might want on hand include towels for both of you, gloves, washcloths, toys, baby-friendly bath products and soap, a safe and dry place outside of the tub to set your baby, a bath mat, and maybe a partner or older child to help if needed.

1) Set Up Everything You Might Need

Put a chair or stool next to the tub and pile your towels and washcloths on top.

A baby seat or swing with a blanket will give you a safe place to set the baby down if you need to. You can also use a dry, clean infant tub or even a plush towel on the floor as an emergency safe spot.

You’ll want to wear gloves to keep the baby from slipping. Textured gloves intended for water use will help you support your baby when they get wet.

Toss a few different water-safe toys in there as well, so you can have some play time. Also, set up the soap you want to use, and make sure you have someplace safe to stand, like a dry bath mat.

2) Getting The Bath Ready

Babies cannot tolerate hot, swampy baths. It should be comfortable, but not like a hot tub. Aim for body temperature.

If you aren’t sure whether the water is too hot or too cold, use a non-digital thermometer to check.

A good rule to follow is to test with the inside of your wrist. The water should feel warm but not hot.

Keeping the drain cracked a little and having a continuous flow of warm water will maintain a more constant temperature.

3) Be Careful, But Hop On In

Once the bath is ready, undress your baby and set them on a comfortable towel or in a baby seat.

When you’re prepared to get in, carefully step into the tub with your baby and lower yourself into the water.

If you have a hard time doing this while holding the baby, bring the seat or swing close to the tub and grab your baby after you’re settled in the water.

Take a quick second to make sure everything is set up nearby. It’ll be easier to get up before everyone gets soapy. You can always set the baby down in her safe spot and get what you need.

4) Ready, Set, Play!

Your baby may seem shocked at first, especially if she isn’t used to bathing frequently. If she really seems frightened or uncomfortable, try to soothe her but be prepared to pull the plug. Some babies need practice.

Pediatricians have documented the importance of play with years of research. Gone are the ideas of the past, where children should be seen and not heard. Instead, take every opportunity you have to play with your baby.

If you aren’t sure what toys to use, browse the baby aisle next time you’re at the store. Look for soft, cushy toys meant for the water. Bright letters, animal shapes, cups, and rubber ducks are always fun!

A basket or net for the tub can also come in handy and keep everything contained when you’re not playing.

Singing and cuddling with your little one is a great way to enjoy a bath. Simple nursery rhymes, ABCs, or even your favorite radio jam will entertain and likely cause lots of cute giggles and smiles. After all, singing in the shower is allowed, so why not the bath?

5) Soaping Up And Rinsing Off

If your baby is very young, perhaps it’s a better idea for you to skip the soap altogether. Babies usually have sensitive skin, and your bath soap is probably too harsh for theirs.

If you do wash your baby, wear gloves to prevent dropping a slippery body.

Be sure to thoroughly rinse off any soaps on your child, and don’t forget to do so behind the ears as well.

A dry washcloth is an easy way to wipe his face off after he’s clean.

6) Getting Out Of The Bathtub

Be sure to exit the tub as carefully as you got into it. You’ll both be wet, and things may be slippery from soap. The easiest way to stand up is to cradle your baby in one arm and carefully push yourself up with the other arm.

If you don’t have the strength, or if your baby is upset and wiggling, set the baby down first in your designated safe spot. Use a towel on the floor if you need to. Then carefully stand up and step out of the tub. Move slowly, and don’t be afraid to call out for help if you need it.

So, What About Those Safety Tips?

Tragedies in the bathtub can happen in an instant. A baby or toddler should never be left alone in there!

Think about it the same way you would put your child in his car seat. You buckle everything, tighten, and recheck. Bath time should be the same way. Assemble what you need and then double check you have everything properly set in place.

You Should Never Take A Bath With Your Baby If:

  • You are under the influence of anything. Alcohol, drugs, and prescription medications do not mix with bath time. If you can’t safely drive or carry a baby, you can’t take a bath with one.
  • You have physical difficulties. Maybe you sprained your wrist or hurt your knee. Whatever the case, baths are a no-no until you can lift and hold your child’s weight.
  • You are sleepy. A bath is relaxing, sometimes too relaxing. A baby won’t be safe in your arms if you’re about to fall asleep.
  • You are stressed or upset. If your emotions are already running on high, skip the bath for now. The baby may notice your feelings, and you might not be in the right state of mind to be watchful.

Your Baby May Not Be Ready For The Bath If:

  • He’s been sick. If your baby has been vomiting, has diarrhea, or has a fever, you probably should forego the tub. Use a washcloth to wipe him down instead.
  • She’s tired. A tired baby can be difficult to please. You know your baby best, and if you think she’s clocked out for the day, you can try again tomorrow – why ruin the chances of a good experience when the circumstances are clearly not right?

Bathing With Your Little One Is Healthy, Good For Their Brains, And Good For You

The bond between a child and their caregiver is unbreakable. You can reinforce this bond by spending as much quality time with your baby as possible. Since you both need to bathe at some point, consider using these moments for cuddling and nurturing.

Science has shown that both touch and play increase brain development, and you can begin this process right away.

You can give your child the spark of curiosity and a love of learning from a young age.

Following basic safety tips such as never bathing while under the influence will ensure you both have a fun, safe bath.

If the bathtub is a hit, consider introducing a larger body of water.

Most experts say to wait until your baby is at least six months old before swimming in the ocean or a pool. Swim lessons are available for babies this young, and you can safely introduce a love of the water.

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