By Raising Children Network
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Now that your baby’s a bit older, he’s probably enjoying bathtime more.

Happy baby being bathed

When to bath

If your baby really likes baths and they seem to help her relax (and then sleep!), you might want to give her a bath every day. Still, try not to bath more than once a day, because this will dry baby’s skin.

It’s good to give baby a bath at the end of the day. This will be helpful in setting up a bedtime routine. It gives your baby a signal that it’s time for bed, helping him relax and get ready for sleep.

Where to bath

By now, your baby will be too big for a plastic baby bath and can sit on her own. This means it’s probably time to make the change to the big bath. Some babies just love the limitless expanse of the big tub after the confines of the baby bath, although some are a bit upset by it. You can help make the transition easier by putting the small baby bath into the family size bath a few times.

Once your baby’s ready for the big bath, you might like to take a bath with him (while keeping safe and planning who can help) – you can even give him a breastfeed in the bath if you want.

A big bath also allows more room for games and toys. Baby doesn’t need too many toys in the bath, and toys can be very simple. For example, baby will love to watch you pour water from a plastic cup, or might like to play with the washcloth. Or you could take her for ‘swims’ up and down the bath – just support under her body and head (or chin, if she’s lying on her tummy).

How to bath baby

To give your baby a bath in a little tub, see our article on bathing your newborn.

First, try to keep safety in mind:

  • Never leave your baby alone in the bath.
  • If you’re disturbed by the telephone or another task, take your baby from the bath, then drain the water.
  • Take your baby out of the bath, and place him in a safe area such as a cot. Also keep him warm.
  • Make sure all bath lotions, shampoos and electrical appliances are kept out of baby’s reach.
  • Run cold water from the tap first, then hot water, and always run cold water through the tap last. Cover the taps to prevent burns.
  • Remove bath plugs from the bath when not in use.

Bath time

  1. Make sure you have everything you’ll need (towel, washcloth, bath toys, baby soap, lotion or shampoo, clean clothes and clean nappy) ready at hand so that you won’t have to leave your baby while she’s in the bath. Try not to have too many toys.
  2. Put a non-slip bath mat on the floor and one in the bath.
  3. Fill the bath to about 8 cm with warm (not hot) water. Turn the water off and test the temperature before you put baby into the bath. You can read more about safe water temperature.
  4. Gently lower your baby into the bath, keeping a hand on him at all times.
  5. Kneel down or sit on a low stool so that you don’t strain your back.
  6. Shampoo the hair last (you only need to do this once or twice a week). To do this, lie your baby on her back and gently rinse her hair.
  7. Gently lift your baby out of the bath and wrap him in a soft dry towel.
  8. Empty the bath as soon as you’ve taken baby out.

It’s important to stay with your baby at all times when she’s in the bath. Children can drown even in very shallow water and in a few seconds.

Although your baby is older now, it’s still a good idea to keep soap, shampoos and bubble baths to a minimum – they can irritate skin and cause nappy rash.

Your baby will probably try to pull himself up or stand up in the bath. If you can’t persuade him that this isn’t a good idea, make sure you’re holding him so he can’t slip.
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  • Last Updated 01-10-2009
  • Last Reviewed 01-10-2009
  • Victorian Parenting Centre (2003). C-Frame: Connect, collborate, change (CD-ROM). Melbourne: VPC.