Bathing a slippery little baby can be a pretty nerve wracking experience, especially in the early weeks and months before he can hold his head up or sit up by himself. And it makes things worse if he hates getting wet and screams his head off the whole way through!
There are a variety of specially designed baths on the market designed to make the whole experience a bit easier and more enjoyable for both of you, but you don't need to rush out and buy one before the birth.
It is a good idea to wait until your little one arrives, before you decide what type of bath would work well for you.
Here are the different options and the pros and cons of each.
For the first few weeks, it is perfectly safe (and cheap) to use the sink or a clean plastic washing up bowl. For comfort, line the bottom of the sink with a towel, and you may also need to wrap a towel around the taps for safety.
This option saves you leaning over, which is easier on your back and far more comfortable if you are still sore from a C-section. The downside is the kitchen sink is also used for washing up, and it might need scrubbing and disinfecting before each use. You may have to gather shampoo, body wash, towels etc before you start because they probably live in the bathroom.
Usually made from plastic, flexible mesh, sponge or soft fabric, a bath support seat cradles baby as he lays in the main family bath while you wash him. Suitable for newborns and babies that are unable to sit up, the contoured, chair-shaped design stops tiny infants slipping about.
Look for a support that is comfortable, sturdy and non-slip, and if you opt for a fabric sling-shaped design, make sure it is mould resistant and machine washable. You may get a little backache from leaning over, but unlike a plastic tub, there is no need to drain it afterwards.
Plastic tubs are popular and come in lots of different styles, shapes and sizes. A well chosen tub helps you bathe your child safely without a second pair of hands. Look for a tub that has a supportive, non-slip seat and a comfortable headrest. It should be lightweight and easy to carry, and have a plug to drain the water easily.
You can use the tub inside your main bath, which makes it easier to fill and drain, but again, you may get a sore back from leaning over. Or you can place the tub on the floor, which may require lifting it when it is full of water. If you think a plastic tub is the way to go, it may help to get one that fits over the rim of your bath so you can reach baby at a comfortable height.
If you want to splash the cash, you can invest in a changing station with tub included so you don't have to lean over. This is a nice addition to any nursery, and the underneath storage area keeps everything you need for changing and bathing tidily in one place.
Look for a lightweight changing unit on wheels with a drainage system. This makes it easier to transport the unit and drain the water. Bear in mind changing stations are relatively expensive and will be surplus to requirements within a couple of years, so you should ask yourself if the cost is really worth it.
Once baby can sit unaided (about six months old) and until he can stand (around 12 months), a swivel seat allows him to sit safely in the main bath while leaving your hands free to wash him. Suction pads secure the seat to the bottom and the swivel design enables you to wash your child easily.
It may be a bit of a challenge getting baby in and out of the seat, but it will keep him secure if he wants to sit and play in it for longer periods. A swivel seat is also handy if you want to bathe a young child at the same time as an older sibling that can sit unaided.
An inflatable tub is useful once baby can sit up well on his own. Padded and comfortable, it gives him plenty of room to splash about and have fun if you don't think he is quite ready for the big bath. Easily deflated, this type of tub is easy to store, very transportable and ideal for taking on holiday or short breaks away.
You may have to pump the tub up every once in a while if it deflates a little, and you need room to store it in between uses, unless you are prepared to deflate and inflate every time!
When your child is sitting well and you are ready to make the transition, you can start using the main bath with no supportive seating. Hopefully your little one will be quite happy to sit in there having a good old splash about in the bubbles and playing with his toys (you'll probably get wet).
A bathwater barrier isolates a section of the bath so you don't have to fill the whole thing, which saves water, energy and time. You can also put baby in with you if you are so inclined, but be wary of adding essential oils and salts, which may irritate sensitive skin.