Paul Durkin

How to Keep Your Baby Safe During Bathtime

Published: 18 October 2013 | By Paul Durkin.
Safe bathtime

When it comes to bathtime, any parent knows this can be either a fun time or a stressful time; what is certain though, this will promote a bond between mum/dad and baby.

Bathtime is all about multi-tasking so gents, now’s the time to prove how good we are. As with anything baby-related, you will need to make sure safety comes first.

With that in mind, follow these simple steps to keep your baby safe during bathtime.

As the scouts say: Be prepared

This should go without saying, but be prepared for every eventuality. Make sure you have everything within arm’s reach (towels, soap etc.) before beginning, this will allow you to have one hand supporting your baby at all times.

If you are missing something, then just forget about it – Never leave your baby unattended, not even for just one second.

Carefully choose the right water temperature

No one likes a hot bath, so don’t try and inflict this on your newborn!

As your elbow is more sensitive than your hand, use your elbow to test the temperature of the water: it should be lukewarm (roughly 37⁰C). You will only need about 2-3 inches of water, so don’t get too carried away.

If you’re worried your baby may get cold, then heat your bathroom first; a constant room temperature will create a relaxing, warm environment for bathtime.

Learn the safety hold

Remember your baby is delicate, so ease your baby into the bath slowly using a safety hold: with one hand support their head and shoulders and support their bottom and legs with your other hand. Just remember to go feet-first into the bath.

The safety hold is also the correct position to support your baby in the bath: wrapping your arm around their back, grasping them firmly under the armpit.

Invest in a non-skid mat

As your little one is still grappling with staying on their feet, don’t make it more difficult than it should be: place a non-skid mat down to keep your child in one place.

Cover that tap!

Imagine your baby hitting their delicate head on a solid, metal tap; it doesn’t sound pretty does it?

Invest in a tap protector to avoid any nasty bangs: they are dirt-cheap and also come in novelty designs so will amuse your child at the same time.

Hair washing: The tricky part

Washing your baby's hair may sound tricky, but their hair will produce very little oil so you will only need to do this once a week, twice at max.

With one hand support their back, reclining the head ever so slightly, and with your spare hand lightly lather a small dollop of shampoo directly onto their head. Then simply rinse with a damp flannel.

Top safety tips:

  • No matter how tempting, do not clean inside your baby’s ears: this could damage the eardrum.
  • Under no circumstance should you run a bath while your baby is in it: the sudden change in temperature will either startle or scaled them.
  • When bathing your child, it is recommended to start from the cleanest area and finish at the dirtiest; in other words, from head to toe.

Common bathtime concerns

For any new parent bathtime can also be quite daunting so, to show you that you are not alone, I have put together a list of frequently asked questions.

1. Can I use a bath straight away?
The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates a sponge bath for the first two weeks, or until the umbilical cord stump has fallen off and healed.

2. How often should I bathe my baby?
Don’t go overboard: If you are quick to react to accidents and messy faces then your baby won't need bathing that often. There is even a school of thought which states bathing too much can dry out their skin. In a nut shell, only bathe when necessary.

3. Is it ok to bathe with my baby?
Skin-to-skin contact is one of the key ways to promote a bond, particularly between dad and baby. However, it is recommended waiting until they are about 2 months old. 

If you do want to do this, and don’t have another adult there to help, then make sure you are in the bath first: Never climb into the bath while holding your baby as both the bath and baby may be slippery.

To get around this, place your baby in a seat outside the bath, get in and then reach over and welcome your baby into the bath. Once bath time is over, simply reverse this.

Learn more about bathtime safety:

Baby bath basics: A parent’s guide
Bathing your baby
Bathtime Safety
Bathing With Your Baby
Tips for safe bathing