O Doper Parents, Speak to Me of Baths and Babies

You all gave me what I needed in the diaper tables and pads thread (thank you). Now I want to ask about all things bath-related.

Brief backgrounder: First kid due late June. It’s been 25 years or so since I even did any babysitting, and baby stuff has changed a lot. Most internet parenting sites are well-stocked with incoherent crazy people, so I like to ask here.

Bath stuff: What’s important? What can you do without?

How many towels and washcloths do you need, anyway? They sell baby washcloths in packs of 12 – that’s twice as many as my husband and I have now! And it makes sense to have a small towel to wrap the baby in, and the hood seems like a great idea, but do you really need specialized baby washcloths?

I’ve heard that bath seats generally suck, and heard mixed reviews of baby tubs. I think my parents bathed me in the sink. What works/worked for you?

Do bath toys keep bathing babies happy? What kinds do they like? I assume age matters – I gather babies under 3 months often aren’t all that interested in toys.

Frequency: How often does a baby need a bath? Other than the “diaper area” and the occasional colossal spit-up incident, how does an infant who can’t crawl or eat solid food yet get dirty?

Anecdotes: Does/did your kid hate baths, or love them?

Tried a baby bath. Kid 1 crapped in it the first time. Stuck with a small tub of water rapidly turning brown. My wife decided that was that.

Both of my kids were raised in the shower after that. My wife would open the shower, hand me a naked kid, I would hold him, soap him, rinse him, and return him to mom’s arms and a towel. Never once had the kid slip away, squirm, etc. Did have the boys try to pee on me, never had the warm water crap fest again though.

Even better, never had the “scared of shower - just take a bath” issue with either boy. Not sure if there is a real link, but I have had friends who had problems transitioning to the shower from the bath. Both of my boys were raised in the shower, so it was nothing to us.

Best shower toys were plastic cups and other random articles that could be filled with shower water and poured out. We would also regularly dispose of them as they got old or moldy.

The baby washcloths are much softer than normal ones, and smaller. I like using them, actually. They’re not expensive and you’ll likely get some as part of a shower gift.

I LOVED the baby tub that fellow Doper Max Torque bought us for our very first new baby present. It’s not expensive, and it has a nice sling in it for the newborn sponge baths. If you have a double sink, it hooks right into it. We used it in the sink until she could sit, then inside the regular tub until she could crawl, at which point we finally retired it. She got tub toys then too–before then she couldn’t really enjoy them.

As for hooded towels, they are GREAT. Little babies lose a lot of heat through their head, and when they’re tiny they can double as a little swaddle that gets them dry. I bought toddler-sized ones for Josie now that she’s older and has outgrown her baby hooded towels.

We gave Josie a bath twice a week until she was able to roll over, at which point we moved to three times a week, and there we remain at 13 months. Not sure when we’ll get to once a day–probably when she grows more hair. She LOVES her baths, though, and almost always has.

Baby From Mars is now 4 months old. We bathed her in the kitchen sink for the first 3 months, and we’ve now got a small inflatable bath which we use on the kitchen counter. We got this partially for travel (we’re off to NZ to see rellies next week), but also because using the big bathtub would use up too much water and there’s no counter space in the bathroom. When she’s a little bigger we’ll probably use the bath more, but also shower (I’ve done this a few times already, it’s great!).

We don’t use anything for her to sit on, since it’s a nice bonding experience for her and her Dad (bathtime is around 5.30-6 when he gets home) - I suspect its safer too since she’s always being held around the back and one arm.

We use standard washcloths, and have a couple of towels with hoods which are better for keeping her warm - but a normal towel would do. We use Gaia or Ecostore bath and shampoo products.

We have a couple of cheap rubber ducks and some vomiting bugs (ok, spitting bugs), which she stares at and occasionally kicks, but it seems being in the bath is fun enough - loves kicking around, and loves the bath in general, since day 1. I also give her a baby massage when Dad’s done washing, which she also seems to enjoy.

We bathe her each day, not really to clean her (although on really hot days it’s been nice to wash the sweat off), but to settle her into a bedtime routine. Bath/massage, play/book, feed, bed.

You need tons of washcloths - they double as baby wipes for delicate newborn bums. Also babies don’t need a full bath very often - and too much can dry out their scalp and skin. Sponge baths do well most of the time, but when only a full washdown will do, I found taking them in the shower - noted above worked well.

Once they get bigger, big enough to sit up, then bathtime becomes playtime

This is the one area I put too little thought in and it didn’t end up biting me in the ass. I wouldn’t spend too much money/time investing in bath time accessories seeing as a sink is just as good. You can get fancy tubs and washcloths and what have you, but generally it’s just not necessary IMO.

And hands and faces as they start getting into things/start solids and they make excellent chewy things when teething. Get them damp, freeze them and let them chew.

Couldn’t say how often we bathed Velociraptor when small, couple times a week maybe and now he bathes about every couple days or if he needs it(such as after swimming or playing in the dirt). He still takes baths at six, but now and then he takes a shower. When he was about one he got scared of the bath (and the shower) and for a month straight would scream bloody murder if you tried anything more than a sponge bath. That was a trial, but he eventually grew out of it. Never figured out what set that off.

The baby bath gets more use now as a place to wash delicates than it did except when he was a newborn. Mostly he was fine in the bath, and when he was smaller I’d get in with him sometimes too.

I loved my little baby tub, but it didn’t get much use. My infant hated being naked and hated being in water (and this was in Texas, in the summer so “cold” was not the issue) so what I did instead was bathed him in his pumpkin seat (are they still called that? I think it was a carrier but it is easier to carry baby without it, so ours became the pumpkin seat). I’d take off his jammies and wash his legs, then put them back on, then take off his t-shirt and wash his chest, tummy and back, then put it back on, then wash all the parts that were left. It worked for us and we did that every morning. For his head/hair, I used baby shampoo and a wash cloth to rinse it- it took a little longer that way but kept him happy…the rest of the day he got “spot cleaned” as needed. :wink:

Baby washcloths are so nice, They are super soft and as said above, do double or triple duty. I still use baby washcloths for my face. You will definitely need more than you think you will. All the baby supplies, you will need more than you think you will. :wink:
But washcloths are small and cheap so it doesn’t hurt to really stock up.

I sponged bathed both my kids as babies, not very often. I’d put a towel in the bottom of the tub, run just a small amount of water in it, and wash.

Babies are slippery when wet and soapy, this gave me the most control over the situation.

We only needed to BATHE them once a week or so - if you keep their diaper areas clean - and their faces when they start doing solids - they really don’t get dirty until they are old enough to sit up in the tub in an inch of water (while you look on).

In a drafty 90 year old house and with two winter babies, I didn’t really bother with the baby bathtub. It was too big to fit in the teensy kitchen sink, and killed my back kneeling over the tub with it, so until the kids could sit up, they bathed with me. I brought the bouncy chair into the bathroom and lined it with a towel, then bathed with the baby, transferring him/her to the bouncy seat and wrapping them up while I dried off.

We’ve used a baby tub on all three of the mouslings. As they get older, they move to a baby seat, and they go in the big tub.

As Dangerosa mentioned. Soapy babies are slippery babies. Before they can sit up well on their own, a tub is nice, because they can splash (wear a rain slicker), and you have control.

I just got a couple of those rubber anti-slip mats with the suction cups on the bottom. In the “rubberMaid” aisle. One small one for the kitchen sink and one big one for the bathtub. When she was able to sit up I moved her to the tub.

Celtling has always loved her baths, and it’s hard to get her out. The nifty little hoodie towels with little flowers and animals and such do the trick though, she can’t wait to get her “costume” on once I mention it.

If tender skin runs in your family I highly recommend “California Baby” Super Sensitive bath gel. It’s the only thing that doesn’t upset Celtling’s skin.


With Chloe I just got in the tub with her. It helped keep her warm and she was completely supported on my legs. I would just put a towel on the floor by the bathtub to put her on for a couple seconds so I could hoist myself out when we were done.

With Claire my back was all screwed up, so that wasn’t as easy. Once she got beyond a couple weeks, we bathed her in the kitchen sink until she could somewhat sit up. Then - and this is the brilliant part - I would put her in our tub, and I would sit on the edge and put my feet in the tub too. Sooooo much easier on your old bones than trying to kneel or twist around, and you can prop the baby against your shins if they don’t sit well.

I didn’t and don’t bathe my kids very often. Honestly, if they start to smell musky I dunk them, and of course if they get colossally messy. They inherited my sensitive skin, and I figure the less soaping the better. They don’t seem to have suffered for not having a nightly bath.

I have this tub, too, and it’s come in really useful so far. For kid #1, we used it until he was able to sit up on his own, then we just washed him the kitchen sink. I suspect we’ll do the same for kid #2. Kid #2 is really sensitive to temperature changes, so we generally soak the sling in warm water before settling her in, then fill it so her bum and back are cradled in warm water. This only works if you have a kid whose pee and poop is somewhat predictable; if you don’t, the kid winds up sitting in shit soup. Our daughter is 3.5 months now; wouldn’t have worked with her as a newborn.

Also, I second the washcloths - if you don’t feel like buying them, don’t bother, but at the same time they’re thinner and therefore reach tiny crevices more easily than adult washcloths simply because they have less material. So you can use them to wash neck and leg folds. And they’re easier to use on babies’ faces. Hooded baby towels are nice, but if I had to choose between the towels and washcloths, I’d buy the washcloths first.

I thought if one more place that needs semi- frequent cleaning - in the baby’s multiple chin folds. The milk gets in there and can cause a yucky rash. The baby WILL not like you wiping under there, but you should and put some cornstarch in there.

That’s another tip - get cornstarch powder, not talcum.

Amen. I just finished cleaning my daughter’s neck/chin folds. She was starting to smell like cheese. Yech.

We had a little bathtub that fit in the kitchen sink that we used for the first few months. The nice thing about it was that it folded up so we could store it under the sink in the downstairs bathroom. I would guess that we bathed our daughter every few days at that point.

When she got a little bit older my wife started taking her into the bathtub with her and eventually she advanced to being in the tub by herself. When she was maybe 2.5 or so she started taking the occasional shower with my wife and didn’t really have any problem with it.

We probably have a couple dozen washcloths and go through a good portion of them in our normal weekly laundry cycle. She uses one every morning to wash her face and then every night to either wash her face or for her bath.

Cups are a big hit in the tub and sometimes she will play with her toy boat. She also likes some bath crayons but those are kind of a PITA to clean up. Other than that not much in the toy department. She is 3.5 now and her latest thing is just to lay on her back in the water in the “shallow end” and swish around.

You didn’t ask about shampoo, but I will throw my two cents in. For us, the J&K stuff seemed to make her skin dry. We ended up using the Aveeno baby wash and were happy with that.

My kids loved baths. I had this little O shaped thing with suction cup feet that would keep the baby safely upright in the tub. My kids always took daily baths and now as adults are very clean. I think it is a good routine and helps calm them before bed time.

I must admit, looking back, I think it was as much fun for me as for them. I have photos of cone heads I used to make on their heads from suds. I also used to like the bath toys and the boats and such.

We used a combo changing table-tub where the table pad hinged down. This puts baby at the right height to be bathed easily. We bathed every day. She seemed to love them.

You’ll be surprised how dirty a kid that can’t even roll over can get.

Before our kids could sit up, we used a plastic tub that fit on top of our double sink in the kitchen. When they could sit up, we used asmall inflatable tub that fit into the regular bathtub. It didn’t take much water to fill and if they were wobbly and toppled sideways, they didn’t bonk their heads on the side of the tub. They also seemed to feel more secure in the little inflatable tub than in the big porcelain bath tub.

I never bothered with the baby towels with hoods, and I think they’re an unnecessary expense. Regular towels are just fine. I did go through a crapload of baby washcloths, though. I used them for baths and for wiping their faces and hands after meals when they were a bit older.