Baby bathtubs give parents a safe way to wash a wet, slippery baby.
In the past, baby baths were typically plastic containers with holes in them. But these days, there are so many bathtubs on the market to choose from that it can be hard to know which one is best for your baby.
When shopping for a baby bathtub, it can be hard to know what products on the market are safe and which gadgets are even necessary.
Do you need a high(ish)-tech one with a temperature indicator? Is space a concern? And do you even need one at all? (Can’t a baby use the same bathtub as you?)
Bath time is a challenge for parents. They are faced with the decision of which tub to buy and how to take care of it.
A baby bathtub can be an investment in your child’s early years, so you must select one that will work best for you and your family.
There are many options available on the market, but we have some tips when choosing a baby bathtub.
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Tips for Buying an Infant Bathtub
Bathing your baby is a surprisingly stressful experience. You’ll probably worry about accidental drowning, too-hot or too-cold water temperatures, and much more.
But there’s an easy way to prevent common bath time accidents: buying a safe and practical newborn bathtub.
To make the process less complicated, here’s what you should know when purchasing a baby tub.
Types of Infant Bathtubs
Babies shouldn’t take baths in their grown-up bathtub.
It’s too difficult to keep your infant afloat while bending over the basin, squirting shampoo onto your washcloth, and gently washing his slippery body.
Your back and knees will surely ache by the end of the ritual! As a safer alternative, most parents opt for a portable baby tub instead.
Here are six types of newborn bathtubs on the market today.
Standard Baby Tubs:
A no-frills, inexpensive plastic tub is always a reliable option. Smaller ones are usually placed in the sink for younger babies—and many have a contoured design to allow infants to sit in a slightly upright position.
Some standard tubs also come with a removable baby bath sling since the fabric or mesh will keep your little one in place.
When your infant can sit up on her own, she can graduate to an enormous plastic bathtub that will sit in your adult-sized tub.
Convertible Baby Tubs:
Designed to grow with your baby, convertible baby tubs have adjustable positions. This allows the tub to be used during the newborn, infant, and toddler stages.
Foldable Baby Tubs:
Foldable infant tubs collapse for easy storage in small spaces, making them perfect for parents in apartments, condos, and smaller homes.
If you use a fold-up tub, make sure it’s sturdy and doesn’t leak.
Inflatable Baby Tubs:
These space-savers can be deflated for easy storage and travel. Many include a suction cup or an attached hook so you can hang the tub for air drying.
A downside: You’ll have to inflate again (which can be a hassle) before Baby’s next bath.
Luxury Baby Tubs:
Want to give your baby a spa-like experience?
Consider a luxury newborn bathtub with all the bells and whistles—motorized water jets, a small shower nozzle, calming vibrations, and more. Unfortunately, these are usually battery-operated, heavier, and more expensive than other baby baths.
Standing Baby Tubs:
These structures elevate Baby to your height with sturdy frames. This means no bending or stooping to bathe your infant!
Things to keep in mind when choosing an infant bathtub:
- A tub made of thick plastic will stay firm in the centre, even under the weight of the water.
- Inflatable tubs and bath buckets are dangerous.
- Bath rings and bath seats can tip over and should be avoided.
- The bathtub should have slip-resistant backing to keep it from moving.
- Bathtubs with foam cushions are dangerous because your baby could tear off pieces and swallow them.
- Don’t choose a tub with rough edges, which can scratch your baby.
- An infant-to-toddler tub will last longer as it can be adjusted when your baby grows.
- Some bathtubs have plastic slots or indentations that can hold soap, shampoo, and other cleaning supplies.
- A plug at the bottom of the tub makes draining the water easier.
What to Look for When Buying a Baby Bathtub
Consider how you want to bathe your baby.
You don’t necessarily need a baby bathtub—you can sit in your tub with your newborn on your lap, but once she’s able to sit on her own (hello, baby milestone), she can splish and splash on her own.
But bear in mind that this isn’t always that convenient, and you’ll need to be able to quickly jump into action when ugly messes, like poop explosions, happen.
If you decide to buy a baby bathtub, many different options will sit in your sink or a bathtub.
This decision relates directly to what kind of home you have. For example, if you’re in a small space, you might want to go the sink route, noting that some homes don’t have bathtubs at all.
You can even get soft baths, made from foam or polyester, that fit easily in sinks and cradle your little one to help prevent slips.
Meanwhile, many essential infant tubs—which can be placed in your bathtub—feature fabric slings to cradle a newborn, and the splint can often be removed as your kiddo grows.
Or you might want to opt for a baby bathtub that provides more than one support position so that it can grow with your baby. (Tight on space? Look for a collapsible bath.)
Above all, your baby needs to be supported and comfortable during her bath, so if your wee one isn’t enjoying bathtime, you may want to consider other options—babies who don’t like to be reclined may prefer to sit upright in a bucket-type bathtub.
Expert tip: Safety experts discourage the use of products like bath rings or seats.
If the child slips through, they can be trapped underneath, which is much more hazardous than falling into open water.
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The Best Baby Tub Features
While added features aren’t necessary, they can make bath time easier for you and your baby.
Check out our favourites below.
Many baby tubs come with a colour-changing drain plug or a sticker-like strip to let you know if the water is too hot. Some tubs also have digital temperature gauges.
Parents and caregivers should make sure that the bathwater is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
It may help set your water heater to 120 degrees F, so it never gets dangerously hot.
To prevent burns, always double-check the water temperature using your elbow or wrist, even if the tub has a thermometer.
If your tub does not come with a temperature indicator, you can purchase one separately.
It will be easier to handle if a baby tub has smooth edges and an overhanging rim and less likely to scratch your baby. (Never move the tub while your little one is inside!)
A soaped-up baby is extremely slippery, so get an infant bathtub with a non-skid surface to keep him in place. Just be vigilant with foam cushions because your baby could tear/bite off a piece and swallow it.
Many experts recommend filling the baby tub with two-four inches of water.
A raised or printed line around the inside of the tub—usually accompanied by the word “MAX”—serves as a guide to avoid overfilling.
After leaning over to bathe your baby, the last thing you want to do is to lift a heavy tub and drain it. A drain plug makes removing the water quick and straightforward.
Baby Bathtub Buying Tips
Follow those recommendations when choosing a tub for your infant.
Pick the Right Bathtub Size.
A tub that’s too big means your baby has more room to slide around, which increases the risk of drowning.
But one that’s too small can be uncomfortable and challenging to clean. Not sure which size to get? Many manufacturers include weight or other size guidelines with their infant bathtubs.
Consider the Cleaning Process.
Before you make a tub purchase, imagine the necessary cleaning process.
The more notches your bathtub has, for example, the longer it will take to sterilize (and the easier it will be to miss a dirty spot!).
You want a tub that’s easy to clean and dry to prevent mildew or mould growth. Don’t write off second-hand tubs—but avoid used baby tub seats.
If you’re looking to save money, it’s lovely to use a second-hand infant bathtub. Just be sure it’s in good condition, and give it a thorough cleaning before you use it.
However, keep in mind that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises caution when using second-hand baby tub seats.
These are non-slip bases that help your baby stay in an upright position during bathing.
Some second-hand infant bath seats use suction cups to provide stability, and they are unreliable. That’s because the suction cups can detach and cause accidents.
Don’t let a baby provide you with a false sense of security whatever you decide to buy.
Stay within arm’s reach of your child in the bath at all times, whether you’re using a bath ring, baby bath seat, or bathtub, or if you have the child in the tub itself. Remember, you are your baby’s best safety monitor!
Things to Consider While Selecting Baby Infant Bath Tubs
One of the most important things to consider while choosing a baby bathtub is what best meets your needs when it comes to space in your home.
You should also consider the safety features of the baby bath, which will ensure that baby bathing is secure and stress-free.
You will bathe your infant in the laundry or the bathroom, or where there is enough space to avoid strain your back if you are leaning over.
The kitchen sink is not recommended as babies tend to eliminate waste that might contact the dishes and food.
A few bathtubs contain stands that increase the height so that you need not bend over. However, it is best to follow the recommended manufacturer guidelines.
A few bathtubs are precise as they are, whereas others can be hung in the wardrobe or folded away.
This can be convenient for moms and dads who live in houses or apartments that do not contain an adult bathtub or when you are travelling.
Although they are not too portable, you may even use the change tables as a bathtub for your infant.
Some baby bathtubs are created to bathe your little one from infancy through the toddler years.
These are suitable investments as space can be partitioned to prevent the baby from sliding around and then removed as your child grows.
Here are certain things to consider while choosing a bathtub for your infant:
- The tub needs to have slip-resistant backing so that it does not move
- If the tub is made of thick plastic, it will stay firmly at the centre, even when there is the weight of water
- Be aware of the foam cushions; your baby could tear off the parts and swallow them
- Avoid baby flotation devices, bath rings and bath seats. If they trip, your baby could drown
- Don’t select a tub that has rough edges, as these can lead to scratching
- Infant to toddler tubs last longer because they can be adjusted with the growth of your baby
- A few bathtubs may have indentations or plastic slots for holding shampoo, soap and other cleaning supplies
- There should be a plug at the bottom of the tub to simplify the draining of water
- Hold your baby with one hand while she is in the water
- Babies should be bathed only by professional babysitters or adults. This is because it is a dangerous thing as babies might drown even in a tiny inch of water
- Touch the water to check its temperature before putting in your baby. Make sure that it is not too hot
- Accumulate all the bathing supplies well before taking them to the bath. These include soap, washcloth, shampoo, clean wipes and diapers, towel and clean clothes
- Always carry your baby with you to answer the phone or the door or if you need to move to another part of the house
- Always empty the bathtub and place it upside down when it is not used
- Only adults or other experienced caregivers should give babies baths. Baths can be dangerous for babies because babies can drown in as little as an inch of water.
- Gather all of your baby’s bathing supplies ahead of time, including shampoo, soap, washcloth, towel, clean clothes, and a clean diaper/wipes.
- Always keep one hand on your baby while they are in water.
- Always touch the water to check the temperature before putting your baby in the bathtub. Water that is too hot can burn babies.
- Always take your baby with you if you have to answer the door or the phone or if you’re needed elsewhere in the house.
- Always empty the bathtub and turn it upside down when it is not being used.
How Important Is Convenience?
When it comes to baby bathtubs, the simplest ones are often the easiest to use. Look for a sturdy tub that has the following basic features:
- BPA-free materials
- Non-Skid surface on the bottom (both inside and out)—bonus points for suction cups on the base
- Smooth rounded edges that can cradle your baby and keep her safely in place
- Basin that retains its shape when filled with water
- Support for your baby’s head and shoulders.
- Room to grow—because your newborn won’t be teeny for long
- Portability, if you want to use it somewhere other than the bathroom
How Important Are Extra Features?
If you tend to like products with more bells and whistles, these days, you can find tubs with helpful extras like water jets, temperature indicators, and mini shower head nozzles.
Just know these spa-like amenities — which can be pretty amazing — aren’t necessary for making bath time safe and fun.
Is it Easy to Clean?
Look for tubs that are easy to drain and that dry quickly when bath time is over. The quickest-drying options tend to be plastic, but many baby bathtub seats are mildew-resistant foam or fabric.
Is Space a Factor?
Let’s face it: Baby stuff adds up fast. So if space is tight, forgo the huge plastic baby tub and consider a soft foldable or collapsible tub with a hook or hanger for easy storage.
A smaller tub that fits into the kitchen sink could be another good option. Avoid inflatable baby bathtubs—while they’re the ultimate space-savers, they can tip over, putting your baby at risk of drowning.
How Long Will You Be Using It?
Convertible tubs are designed to grow with your child—all the way from the newborn stage to the toddler years (usually about 25 pounds).
Many have mesh slings or mildew-resistant foam pads to support newborns, which can be removed as your baby outgrows them.
Some options—like the much-lauded PUJ tub—cater just to infants small enough to bathe in a sink, which means upgrading as the baby gets bigger.
In general, though, you can expect that your baby will outgrow most infant tubs by six months. Then, when she’s capable of sitting unassisted, she can bathe in a regular big tub lined with a non-skid rubber mat or skidproof stick-ons to prevent slipping.
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