Lily’s first bath time was a special moment for me. It was exciting because it was a moment I had often thought about while she was swimming in my belly but even more so because it was the only thing that could end her three-hour crying session when she was a week old. I remember texting my doula in a panic because I was alone and couldn’t get her to calm down. The first thing she asked me is if I had tried giving her a bath. Well, no, I hadn’t. I was too busy bouncing, shushing, rocking & nursing to even think about bathing as an option.
Before I continue, I just want to say that it is TOTALLY normal to wait a week (or more) to bathe your baby for the first time. I specifically wrote on my hospital birth plan that the nurses should not bathe my baby. My doula and midwives helped us understand why it can be nice to wait for a bath until you leave the hospital. Vernix (the white stuff babies have on them when they’re born) is an important protector of newborns. The vernix not only helps keep a baby moisturized (no lotion required!) but it also helps keep them safe. The vernix helps protect against bacterial infections that can happen during birth. Bathing a baby in the hospital can also make your baby more likely to suffer low blood sugar & hypothermia after birth. Plus, let’s not forget that your baby wants to be with YOU after he or she is born…bath time in the hospital takes away time that you could be snuggling or trying to get baby to latch. Skin-on-skin time is super important after birth and will help your baby’s immune system long term. Can you imagine being a little baby fresh out of the womb, taken from your mom, put under bright lights and then put in a tub by a bunch of unfamiliar people wearing gloves? What’s the rush, mommies? Those babies are perfect just the way they are born. If the health benefits aren’t enough for you, just think of it this way: less work for you!
So, anyway, the bath worked! For as long as my little fish was in that warm water she was content, adorable and QUIET. Thank the lord. I’ve told you guys about Lily being colicky and bath time became a saving grace for us if we couldn’t get her to calm down. To this day bath time is a time we look forward to because we know it will (usually) mean some peace and quiet and a happy little girl.
Unfortunately, bathing baby isn’t always as easy as it looks, especially for new totally unexperienced mamas like me. Remember, they don’t have head control yet so trying to keep them submerged enough to keep them warm while not letting their head flop into the water is a real feat. After some trial and error, I think I figured out a pretty good system. We would get EVERYTHING ready before we put her in the tub, so she never was unattended in the water. I would lay a couple of towels on our countertop with a fresh diaper and robe laid on top. Our washcloths were next to the tub and we kept a rubber ducky and a Sophie toy in the tub (although your baby will likely not care about these for a few months). We filled the tub up with warm water and took her diaper off at the last second. Occasionally I would put one of the infant insert pillows from a car seat in the tub to keep her head steady, or I would roll up a small washcloth. Since having Lily, I’ve seen some bigger bath pillows that look really awesome. We didn’t use soap with her baths for a VERY long time. This is totally normal! Your baby isn’t getting very dirty in these early months, so warm water and a soft washcloth is plenty to keep them clean. It’s also a good idea to leave bubble baths for a different age, adding soap to the water when they’re this young can cause a UTI (only wash their private parts with water). We also didn’t use lotion for the first few months because her skin was plenty soft on its own. Of course, you need to decide what’s right for your baby especially if your baby has dry skin. We didn’t start using lotion until we noticed that her skin was getting a little dry after baths (many months later). In the first 6 months, we really only bathed her when she needed it, no more than 3 times a week. Baby’s skin can dry out easily, so it’s great to keep their natural oils on their skin as much as you can. As she got older, we moved to every other day and even now we don’t bathe her every night.
Our process now that she’s a toddler is a little different. In Atlanta, we have a bathtub but our house in California doesn’t. In CA we use an inflatable tub that I’ll link below which can be great for traveling! We put the silicon bath mat in the tub, fill up the water using the 4moms spout cover & set up a folded towel outside of the tub. We put her robe on top of a soft bathmat, so we can lay her down on it when she gets out. We make sure there are a couple washcloths next to the tub so we don’t have to take our eyes off of her (we did that ONE time after she started standing and she fell down in the tub and started screaming. It was seriously awful…please mamas, don’t take your eyes off of them when they’re in or near water). We put a tiny bit of soap on a washcloth and wipe her body gently (we don’t use soap on her face) and let her play in the water till she wants to get out. When she’s done, we lay her on the towel & clean her lady parts with a wet washcloth (no soap). Once she’s squeaky clean we dry her off and she’s off to nurse. Before bed, we put on lotion & Badger Balm on her lips!
In the last 17 months, I’ve been able to test several different products that make bath time more enjoyable. Below is a list of my bath time necessities! Take your time looking through them and see if any of them look good for you. Do you have any essentials I don’t have on this list? I’m dying to know! I love a good bath time product. Happy baby bathing, mamas!
Bath Time Essentials
I am a big fan of 4moms as a brand. They have quality items and they are all very mom & baby friendly. We bought this tub before Lily was born. We used it for all of her baths until she was about 5 months old when she outgrew it. I love that it has a temperature gauge so you don’t have to guess whether the water is too hot for your babies bum. It also comes with a little cup you can use to pour the water on her exposed parts. It fit well in our large sink in California but it may be difficult if you have a small sized sink. It has a grip on the bottom to keep baby in place but our only complaint was is she seemed to always be a little too big or too small because she would always move around a little bit. We ended up rolling up a dish towel to put under her bum to keep her in place and that worked well!
The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn to Toddler Tub
We switched to this tub at around 5 months until about 9 months when we felt comfortable she could sit up in the big tub by herself. It had a better grip and fit than the 4moms but doesn’t include a temperature gauge. It was a good (and cheap!) transitional tub. There may be even better ones out there but this worked well for us! It can also fit in your sink or you can just stick it in the tub.
This is what we use in California because we don’t have a bathtub in our house currently, but it would be a great option for traveling if you know you won’t have a tub! I would use it only for babies or toddlers than can sit up on their own.
This is a no-brainer once your baby gets into the big bath or if they use a bathtub without a temperature gauge. You simply Velcro the thermometer over the spout and the water will fall onto the metal tip that reads the temperature. The screen will turn blue if the water is too cold, green when it’s just right (90-99.9) and red when it’s too hot.
We started Lily in the big tub without a bath mat in the beginning. HUGE mistake. We Amazon Prime-d this mat and it was life-changing You definitely need a mat in your tub to keep that baby bum in place!
So, you don’t necessarily have to get this brand, but I really like having thin washcloths in her bathroom. The big soft ones are nice, but babies have lots of little crevasses that need attention. I like that the thin washcloths can get to wherever they need to.
When we finally did introduce soap, we really liked this one. It has been easy on her skin. We don’t use it on her face because it’s a bit more sensitive, but we’ve had no issues on her body! We’ve also used Dr. Bronner’s baby castile soap with great results.
Lily LOVES these toys. When they hit the water they light up and flash for a few seconds at a time. She got so excited the first time she saw them she squealed! You NEED to get these for your baby! I would recommend these for babies after 5 months old when they can really get into the lights.
She didn’t figure this one out until she was almost a year but now she’s obsessed! It’s so much fun.
Natemia Extra Soft Bamboo Hooded Bathrobe (12 months+)
We’re obsessed with this robe right now! It’s super soft and easy to get on. The sleeves are a little long so we just roll them up. I love knowing it will last us a long time
Oeuf Hooded Bunny Robe made with Organic Cotton (8-12mo)
We started using this one when she was about 9 or 10 months. It is SO cute. I plan on ordering another one for her now that she’s getting bigger. You will love this.
Baby Aspen Let the Fin Begin Shark Robe (0-9mo)
In the very beginning, we ended up just wrapping Lily up in a little towel. We found that the hooded towels just didn’t fit her head right. My mom got us this little shark robe and when she was a couple months old, it was perfect (and hilarious)! I’m totally on team robe. I think they’re just way easier and more functional than hooded towels!
Lily’s skin has reactions occasionally to certain lotions and soaps, but this one has always worked wonderfully for us!