If you’re wondering what will be helpful for your baby’s first baths you’ll find all the ideas you need on this baby bath essentials list. I’ve broken down the list into two sections, one for a newborn baby and another for older babies who require some different items.
This list will help you build your baby registry if you’re deciding what items to ask guests for or purchase for yourself. You can also use the printable baby bath checklist in this article as a cheat sheet for your newborn’s first baths.
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- Table of Contents
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Newborn Bath Essentials
A newborn requires certain items that an older baby may not (like a cover to stay warm) and older babies often like using toys in the bath that newborns have no interest in. Skip to the next section to see a list of items for babies who are out of the newborn stage, or continue reading here for newborn bath ideas.
A good baby bathtub is helpful for bathing a newborn in your regular bathroom at home or even on the counter in your kitchen. Not only does it save water instead of using a larger bathtub, but it also creates a safer spot that’s designed for a newborn.
If you’re trying to save money and not interested in buying a baby bathtub, you can try adding thick plush towels to your clean kitchen sink and bathing your infant there.
Baby Bath Thermometer
It may seem like common sense but getting the right bath water temperature can stress out new parents. Too hot? Too cold? Baby’s skin is so delicate as a newborn it’s important to get the right temperature to prevent discomfort or burns and a baby thermometer takes the guesswork out!
You can go with many different styles of baby bath thermometers, but my favorite is one that’s childproof and shaped like a toy. That way it can play double duty someday and when you’ve outgrown the need for a bath thermometer it can still be fun to play with in later years.
You can use gentle baby soap from the neck down for a newborn. It’s also not usually necessary to use soap daily unless your baby’s had a blowout or is covered in spit-up. Soap can be hard on a newborn’s skin so use it sparingly and less often than you would for an older child.
Baby shampoo is great for infants because as they wiggle around you want to make sure if any drops of water end up on their face it doesn’t sting their eyes. Pick a baby-safe shampoo that’s guaranteed to be tear-free.
Just like soap, you don’t need to use baby shampoo daily with your infant. It can cause dryness or skin irritation. You may also want to stay away from shampoo with heavy fragrances that can be too harsh for newborn skin and cause allergic reactions.
Buying a few new, soft washcloths for your baby is a great way to make sure they are clean and fresh for your bundle of joy. Don’t mix them in with other cloths that may be used for household cleaning or may be too abrasive for newborn skin.
A soft washcloth is essential for wiping your baby’s face and body clean. Never scrub newborn skin aggressively.
A newborn can get cold and uncomfortable quickly in a bath. It’s recommended to use a light hand towel, or small muslin blanket to cover your infant in sections as you bath him or her. If you’re washing your baby’s legs, you can leave their arms and chest covered and vice versa. Never cover your newborn’s face or head in the bath. A baby cover can help you keep a secure grasp on a slippery baby too.
There are all kinds of baby rinse cups on the market today; some of them are shaped specifically to fit around a child’s curved head. You don’t necessarily need anything fancy (unless it’s going to make bathtime more fun for you). But it is helpful to have some kind of bath toy like a cup or special container you use to rinse your little one with.
A spout cover is to ensure the hard metal spout of your bathtub is covered, so there will never be accidents or injuries. Although your newborn isn’t capable of standing up or grabbing the bath spout yet, having a spout cover will still ensure that when you’re placing your baby in and out of the bath they are protected.
Cradle Cap Brush
Cradle cap is a minor skin condition that might leave your baby with crust or scaling on the top of his or her head. Although it doesn’t cause your infant any pain or discomfort, it can take time to go away on its own. In the bath, cradle cap can loosen up and sometimes be wiped away with a soft cloth or a special cradle cap brush. A cradle cap brush has soft bristles that are designed to not hurt or scratch your newborn’s delicate skin.
Baby Bath Kneeler
This one might not be a necessity for your baby, but as the parent in charge of bathtime, it sure does make things a lot more comfortable. If you’re bathing your child in the bathtub instead of on a counter or in your sink, you’re going to be kneeling on your floor and reaching over the edge of your bath. A kneeler is a thick pad that will save your knees from aching. You can also get an elbow rest that makes it more comfortable for your arm or chest to rest on the tub’s edge as you wash your little one.
A good soft bath mat for the floor or towel can be a good idea to use as an alternative to a bath kneeler if you don’t have one.
Baby Bath Essentials
For an older baby, you can swap out a few items to make bath time more fun and enjoyable. You may no longer need a cradle cap brush and it’s likely that after a few months, your newborn will outgrow a small baby bathtub.
So, what does an older baby need at bathtime? Let’s check it out:
- Baby Bath Seat
- So your baby’s outgrown the small baby bathtub, but they’re unsteady sitting on their own inside an adult tub… This is the perfect time for a baby bath seat. It will stop them from slipping as they play and can take the stress out of bath time if you’re concerned about your child falling. Never leave infants unattended in baby bath seats.
- Unlike a newborn, older babies are capable of playing in the bath. Choose your favorite mold-free bath toys and add them to your child’s bath for hours of fun.
- Bath Toy Storage
- A basket next to your tub or a bin that suctions to the wall of your bath are a baby bath essential to keep the toys organized and dry when they’re not in use. Look for a storage solution that has mesh or drain holes, so water can drain out instead of sitting in a pool and collecting bacteria.
- Spout Cover
- Now more than ever, you should consider a bath tub spout cover. As your baby is learning new tips and tricks like reaching and pulling to stand, the bath spout becomes an interesting object that kids like to explore. Use a spout cover to minimize the risk of injury.
- Bath Kneeler
- Just like with a younger infant, a bath kneeler and elbow rest pad will save your body from unnecessary aches and pains.
- Baby Thermometer
- Take the guesswork out of bath water temperature and use a baby bath thermometer.
- Baby Soap
- If you’ve found a gentle soap that works well in your newborn stage, keep using it until your child is an older toddler with less sensitive skin. Keep in mind, just like a newborn, your baby won’t need soap every day.
- Baby Shampoo
- Fragrance-free, hypoallergenic baby shampoo is the safest way to go in your infant’s first year. Use one that is tear-free in case it accidentally gets near your baby’s eyes.
- Rinse Cup
- Just like with a newborn, a rinse cup will still be helpful to wash the shampoo off your baby’s head and soap off his or her body. You can use a specialized rinse cup that is contoured in shape or even a cup-shaped bath toy like a large stacking cup.
- The soft washcloths you bought for your newborn are going to last long into their toddlerhood or childhood. You can continue to use baby washcloths with your older baby during bath time.
- Your child has also now outgrown the need for a bath cover, but a large soft washcloth can help you cover sections of your child and keep him or her warm as you’re washing.
After Bath Essential Items
Now that your baby is fresh and clean again, there are a few more essential items that you’ll need after bathtime to keep your little one comfortable, warm and happy.
The best time to apply lotion is right after a bath to lock in moisture. Look for baby lotions that are free from parabens, sulphates and alcohol because those ingredients can irritate your baby’s skin.
A regular bath towel usually works just fine, but for a smaller baby a hooded bath towel can help keep them warm as they get dry. You want to avoid scrubbing your baby’s head dry with a towel so using a hood can help absorb moisture gently and keep them cozy as you apply your after-bath lotion.
A baby’s bedtime routine often follows bathtime. Have your pyjamas picked out and ready. It can be nice to change your baby into a diaper and jammies while you’re still in the warm humid bathroom, especially if the rest of your house is cooler.
Have a fresh diaper handy and ready to go in your bath area. It’s always a nasty surprise if your baby soils themselves immediately after coming out of the bath. You may find yourself rinsing them off or repeating the bath for a second time.
If you have space in your bathroom, you may like to have an entire diaper caddy in the bathroom instead of just bringing in a single fresh diaper. Check out this article next for some advice on what to put in your diaper caddy.
Reading is one of the absolute best things you can do for and with your child. Even when it seems like they are too young to understand, it has many proven benefits. Consider keeping a bath-safe book in your bathroom to read with your baby and then incorporate books into your after-bath routine. You might like my recommendations for the best black and white newborn books or for older babies, you can’t go wrong with one of the touch and feel board books on this list.
Items You Don’t Need For Baby Baths
Bubble baths aren’t recommended for newborns and delicate baby skin. Even popular brands can irritate or dry skin out and cause irritation for newborn babies. Save the bubble bath for older children with less delicate skin.
Squirt toys can collect bacteria and mold and there are other better alternatives to make baby’s bath time fun. Consider stacking cups and other mold-free bath toys for your baby.
How To Bath Baby
- Gather supplies: Make sure you have what you need before getting started including the essentials for during bath time and immediately after (like a towel, lotion and diaper).
- Check for safety: Your bath environment should be safe and warm. There should be no cords within reach and a safe non-slip surface for your baby to rest on. The bathwater should be a comfortable temperature and bath toys should be age appropriate.
- Fill baby bath with water: use a bath thermometer to fill your baby’s tub with warm water (not hot).
- Secure hold: use a secure but gentle hold at all times. Never leave your baby unattended in the bathroom or in water. Not even for a second. If you forget something and need to leave the room for a moment, use a towel and bring your baby with you.
- Wash face first: Holding your baby on your lap outside of the bathtub, wash their face with just water and a cloth (no soap).
- Use a bath cover: to wash the rest of your baby, keep them covered with a light hand towel, large cloth or small receiving blanket. This can help them remain comfortable and warm during their bath. Never cover their face or head.
- Wash baby’s body: uncover one area at a time and use a very small amount of soap on your washcloth to gently wipe your baby starting from the neck down.
- Rinse baby: rinse your baby well to ensure there is no soap residue remaining on their skin.
- Dry and dress: use a towel or hooded baby bath towel to pat your baby dry. Try not to scrub vigorously, that may irritate a newborn’s skin. Use mild lotion to help lock moisture into your baby’s skin then dress in fresh clean clothes and a diaper.
- Drain and clean up: once your baby is warm and taken care of, drain the water and tidy up so your bath area stays safe and organized. Never leave bath water to sit, it may become a hazard later for older children in the home.
Printable Baby Bath Essentials Checklist
Feel free to use your phone to take a screenshot, or print off this bath time essentials checklist. It can help you build your baby registry and it can be helpful as you get into the swing of things as a brand new parent to reference a baby bath cheat sheet that has all the bath essentials listed in one spot.
You can also use this checklist to help you build a bath themed gift basket for a baby shower. Simply choose some items from this list and put them together inside a baby bathtub or a basket and arrange them nicely.
Final Thoughts on Baby Bath Time Essentials
I hope you’ve found this list of baby bath necessities helpful to make bath time a safe and pleasant experience for you and your little one. A good bath time routine is the perfect way to relax before bed and send your baby off to dream land.