Rub-a-dub-dub! Baby's in the tub! Bath time provides a special opportunity for parents and children to play, have fun and help little ones nurture their imagination skills. Baths provide more than just the means to get clean; they’re a great way to bond with your child at the end of a long day. To make this time together even more enjoyable, select bath products and accessories that make getting clean easy and fun.
Infant bath needs
For new babies, an infant bathtub provides security both for your baby and for you as a parent. Though they can be used inside a standard bathtub, look for a model that can be used in a kitchen sink or on a counter if you want to avoid the back strain that comes from leaning over the edge of your bathtub. Make sure your infant bathtub is designed to prevent your baby from slipping and has enough cushion to keep baby comfortable during baths. Additional convenience features to look for include a drain spout for easy water drainage, built-in areas to hold soap and supplies, and a hook for hanging the tub to dry. Pay attention to the age ranges your tub is meant for.
Once your baby can sit up, an infant bath seat is a great tool. Designed to support your baby while bathing in a standard tub, your child can have fun splashing while both of your hands are free to scrub. As with everything related to your baby, safety is the key, so make sure your infant bath seat has suction cups on the bottom to prevent it from sliding in the bathtub.
Hooded towels keep your baby warm and cozy after his bath—remember that heat escapes from the head, so it’s important to keep his wet head under wraps for his comfort. Look for products that are made to hold up to repeated washes and large enough for a growing baby.
For cleansing baby’s delicate skin, choose shampoo and body products that are free of harsh chemicals and have a tearless formula.
Products for toddlers
After the infant bath seat, a whole new world of fun opens up. For your toddler’s bath, tub toys are an especially important part of the experience. With her increased dexterity and abilities, select a variety of toys that will keep her happy and occupied while you tend to the cleaning. When it’s time to store those toys, a mesh toy organizer is a perfect solution. Choose one that attaches to the wall with suction cups, is large enough to hold your entire supply of toys, and has a big opening at the top for easy access.
For your toddler’s safety, look into a non-slip bath mat, which lets your child explore the larger bathtub without slipping under the water. Choose an extra-long mat if you’re bathing two kids together.
If your toddler’s hair is getting longer and harder to comb out, consider a detangler made specifically for kids’ hair. Another good hair product for toddlers and older children are shampoo goggles, which fit over your child’s eyes and prevent shampoo and water from stinging their eyes during hair washes. Make sure the goggles can adjust to fit your child at a variety of ages.
Tip: When you begin tub baths, invest in a spout cover to protect your child from hitting his head or touching the spout.
Bath time with kids
When your kids are big enough to shower on their own, why not mark this important step with fun accessories just for them? Kids’ shower curtains and matching accessories designate the space as theirs. Let them help you select a fun theme for their bathroom—perhaps animals, sports, or a bright pattern. For your convenience, make sure the collection comes with everything you need: shower curtain, hooks, bath mat, and even towels and washcloths. To truly complete the look, purchase kids’ bathroom accessories to match so your kids can get themselves ready for the day or night in style. Matching cups for the bathroom sink, soap dispenser, soap dish, tissue box cover, toothbrush holder, nightlight and wastebasket bring your big kid’s bathroom together! To complete the look without spending too much, purchase one or two items in the going theme while the rest in coordinating solids.
Bath time for growing kids means more play for them and less work for you if you choose the right kids’ bath accessories. With increased energy—and more water in the tub—consider purchasing a splash guard to keep water from being splashed onto the floor. Look for a product that easily attaches and detaches with suction cups, is made of clear vinyl so your view of the kids isn’t obstructed, and fits in all standard tubs. Kids’ bath products also include their own shampoo, conditioner, and body washes designed especially for them. Select items that make it easy and fun for them to soap themselves up.
Tips for all ages
Make sure you have all of your equipment handy so you don’t even have to leave your child unattended in the bath. Keep the products in the bathroom (or wherever you bathe your child) or purchase a bath caddy that allows you to keep your diapers, clothes, towels, and ointments in one easily moveable holder.
Babies and toddlers need much less water than we do; fill the tub with about three inches of water for babies and no more than waist-high for toddlers. Use a fun ducky with a built-in thermometer to ensure that the bath isn’t too hot for your baby or toddler. Keep the duck in the bathwater, and it will turn a different color if the water is too hot. If even mild bath products irritate your child’s skin—or if your child has eczema—ask your pediatrician about products designed for extra sensitive skin. Some parents stop applying lotion after baths when their children become toddlers. But if your own skin is dry because of winter weather or a dry house, chances are that your toddler or older child needs lotion too.
Your own comfort is important too, so when you begin giving tub baths, look into a kneeler for the floor so your knees will be comfortable while you’re helping with bath time.
The Bottom Line
Bath time is a fun, practical way to spend quality time with your child. Make sure you pay careful attention to safety at each stage while ensuring that your child has lots of fun by supplying toys and bath accessories that are age-appropriate.
Our Mom Expert
Caron Webber, 37, is the mother of five children, ages 2 to 12.
“Most of my kids loved having me around at bath time, but when my oldest daughter was around five, she decided she didn’t need me there anymore. Well, of course, I wasn’t about to leave her unsupervised, so I decided to bring ‘work’ into the bathroom while she was bathing. I perched on the toilet (with the lid closed) and turned sideways so I wasn’t facing her, and I paid bills, filed my fingernails, played on my laptop, read a book or magazine—whatever I wanted or needed to do. She objected at first, but I told her I wasn’t there to watch her; she just happened to be in the same room where I wanted to…(fill in the blank with whatever I was doing). By the time she figured out what was really going on, she was old enough to take a shower by herself.”