Before you had a kid, you probably imagined bath time to be a soothing ritual filled with bubbles, bath toys, and post-bath snuggles to help your little one unwind from the day. Then reality hit, right? Some babies wail and flail during bath time, while others are perfectly content in the water…until it’s time to pull the plug. Or wash their hair. Or dry those nooks and crannies. Bath time can still be fun, calming, and an excellent part of your baby’s nightly routine, but it might call for some creativity when your baby just won’t get into it (pun intended!). For those days, we’re sharing tips for making baby’s bath time a little easier, safer, and more enjoyable.
Here are 20 bath time hacks all parents should try!
Instead of using a cup or pitcher, rinse your baby with a detachable shower head (if you’re bathing them in the tub) or kitchen faucet sprayer (if you’re washing them in or near the sink). Some babies love this and others don’t, but it’s worth a try! Use the lowest water pressure possible and cup your hand over the water flow, if needed. If your baby buys in, this is the best way to wash their hair without getting water in their eyes!
Oftentimes, babies fuss at bath time because they’re cold. For safety reasons, parents are advised to only bathe their kids in a few inches of water, but that leaves them chilly from the waist up. The solution? Have another family member take a quick shower beforehand to warm up the bathroom and create some steam – also super helpful if your wee one has congestion issues.
Prep EVERYTHING beforehand–towels, diaper, diaper cream, baby lotion, hairbrush, clothes. Having all your post-bath items at the ready might seem obvious, but sometimes we forget and it can derail the entire experience.
Take a bath with your baby! This is not only a great way to transition them from the baby tub to the big tub, it gives them added security if bath time just isn’t their jam. Plus, on busy days, it might be the only way to ensure that you get cleaned up, too! You’ll probably need help from a partner when bath time is over, so you can hand off the baby to them. OR, if it’s just the two of you, keep the baby tub close by so you can safely set them in there while you get out.
Use bath time to tend to your baby’s skin concerns. If cradle cap is one of them, you can loosen those pesky flakes by applying a moisturizing balm. After about 15-30 minutes, brush their hair forwards and backwards for a little scalp massage. When it’s time to wash their hair, use a gentle, plant-based shampoo (and consider doing two rounds to make sure you get the balm out). After bath time, while their hair is still wet, follow up with some more gentle brushing. PS: Cradle cap does eventually go away, so don’t worry if it sticks around even after you try this treatment.
You probably have a pretty consistent nighttime routine but, if your wee one struggles at bath time, think of calming activities to ease them into it. Maybe start with a baby massage to relax their muscles, try letting them play with bath toys in the empty tub (only if they can sit up unassisted, obviously!), or offer a feeding to ease their anxiety.
Certain scents are linked with sleep-promotion and relaxation. To help your little bather find their zen, incorporate a shampoo/body wash and bubble bath made with sleep-supporting ingredients. (Our Sleep Sweet Nighttime Collection includes chamomile, elderflower, lemon balm, and valerian extracts for a blissful bath time experience.) For an extra spa-like environment, talk to your baby in a low voice, use dimmed lighting, and sing them a soft song or two.
Beware: For some babies, bath time is a very stimulating activity! Try washing them at a different time of day if nightly bath time has the opposite effect you’re hoping for!
Babies’ skin is ultra sensitive to temperature–and they’ll flip out if it’s not just right! Bath water should be around 100℉, but if you don’t have a thermometer, feel it out with your elbow, forearm, or wrist–the soft skin on these body parts mimic your baby’s delicate skin.
So you don’t have to squat over the tub and kill your knees and back in the process, try bathing your kiddo in the kitchen sink. This requires either a baby bathtub that fits in the sink, or an extra pair of reliable hands to help hold your baby steady. And if you don’t want to bathe them directly in the sink, just put your baby bathtub on the counter next to the sink so you have easy access to the water and the drain. Either way, you’re standing up and hopefully more comfortable!
If the big tub starts to resemble a slip and slide, surround your tiny human with a couple towels for some extra traction and padding.
Safety Alert: Most baby bath toys have little holes in the bottom that collect moisture and can grow mold (boo!). Get the toys nice and dry, then seal the openings with a hot glue gun so you can officially check that off your list of things to worry about! ;)
Even the most soap-loving babies might protest a little when it’s time to wash their hair. Since babies lose heat from their heads the easiest, make it the last step in the routine!
Hang on to that postpartum peri bottle you took home from the hospital and, once you’re done using it for the intended purpose, fill it with warm water and use it to wash your baby’s hair and rinse out all those difficult-to-reach creases. Brilliant!
To treat dry skin, add a few drops of plant-based baby oil to the bath water. Let your little one hang out in the tub for a few extra minutes to help soak up all the nourishment. Follow up with baby lotion to help lock in all that moisture.
Want to REALLY pamper your baby? Regardless of how “well” they did during tub time, embrace them with a warm towel afterwards. As bath time comes to a close, pop their towels in the dryer (and include some dryer balls to help soften and fluff up the material). Post-bath, wrap your kiddo in some warmth for instant R&R.
Sometimes, the scariest part of bath time is when it’s all over and you have to lift a slippery, squirming baby out of the water. For this task, grab a couple dry hand towels for better grip and security.
Put a little baby in a big tub and things can get out of hand quickly–especially if bath toys are involved. To keep your kiddo and their toys contained, put a laundry basket in the tub and then put your baby and their toys inside. Mayhem, managed!
This might be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning! Don’t bring your baby into the bathtub until it’s filled and the water has been turned off. Some wee ones get scared at the sound of water rushing out of the faucet, so until they're old enough to enjoy that experience, fill the tub beforehand! Sometimes this means the difference between a fun bath and a failed one.
While you can encourage your kiddo to play around with the water (maybe by showing them how to dip their hands and feet), most babies like to splash, but don’t like being splashed. Follow their lead on this one if you’re trying to avoid the bath time fussies.
Little ones have lots AND LOTS of folds, and they get grimy–especially those neck creases (IYKYK!). During bath time, sit or stand behind your baby and distract them with a toy or funny face. When they stretch their neck to look back at you, gently swipe their neck with your soapy fingers or a thin washcloth followed by a thorough rinse. And since babies don’t always cooperate when we want them to, giving them a “bath” with wipes totally counts. Next time your baby tilts back their head and the opportunity strikes, take a fragrance-free baby wipe and clean up the area. Get that neck nice and dry afterwards and, if the skin is red and raw, dab on a protective balm.
Do you have any tried and true bath time hacks to add? Let us know in the comments!