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How to give a baby a bath

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New parents are inundated with the idea they need lots of hardware to ensure the safety of their child. This is especially true in the bathroom, and bathing seems a favorite topic at baby showers, perhaps because adoring family and friends remember the bath time ritual as one of the better parts of parenthood. But after receiving 10 bathrobes and bathing kits, you may find that you’re still flummoxed as to how to get on with that first bath. Bathtub or sink? Washtub or bucket? Bath seat or bath bed? What are the risks involved with each? What’s easiest?


Before we review the different methods for bathing, let’s dismiss a few myths about babies and drowning. The gag reflex is strong in a baby whose head dips briefly under water, causing his or her throat to close in a split second. However, never leave a baby alone near water. There’s a misunderstanding about the mammalian dive reflex preserving a baby from drowning, but this particular reaction describes a situation where extremely cold water occurs. Children who fall through the ice on a cold pond, for example, are the kids who have the best chance of surviving long periods under water. The colder water cools the body faster, thus hibernating the child. In a warm bath, you’ve got only a few seconds before the gag reflex relaxes and drowns a baby.

That said, it’s extremely unlikely for a watchful parent to risk drowning a baby while bathing. That’s because babies are naturally at peace while in water, something that they practiced for 9 months. Babies are also good at coughing, so if water does get into their throats they’ll expel it quickly. The very best baby tub is the one where the parent is most comfortable. Bending over or kneeling can throw a parent off balance, and the biggest risk to the child is falling or being dropped, not drowning.


Baby Bath Tubs
Many parents find that the easiest way to bathe their baby is in a bath tub. This obvious choice comes down to a parent’s ability to control the environment they’re used to experiencing for themselves while giving the baby more freedom to grow comfortable with the water as he or she gets older. Baby swimming is the newest rage in Britain, where the WaterBabies.com website advocates for submerging babies as early as possible in order to acclimate them to the health benefits and joys of swimming. Bathtubs provide an opportunity for babies to grow into the space provided, not confined by every movement the parent makes. Babies need to bounce their hands into the water and see the faucet and nobs that control the water. Some parents find that using a slip-stop on the tub base will help prevent the baby from sliding around. The  BathSponge is priced at a modest $7.00 and provides an excellent foundation for a newborn so that slippage can be minimized. Additionally, standard bath mat will provide as much slip protection as overpriced baby mats. Since your baby is not timid, a big bath tub isn’t a daunting space to grow into. Parents who decry the dangers of big tubs are idiots, too scared in their prejudice against big water. After all, the great rivers, lakes and seas will smile for them forever more.

TummyTub Bucket Bath

Baby Bucket Bath
Some parents find that a bucket bath is the easiest way to bath the baby. The amount of water used is minimal and you can spend $41.95 on a fancy bucket which the company promises “eases indigestion, gas, and colic while calming baby.” Then there’s the problem with the Tummy Tub bath bucket sold on Amazon.com, according to Consumer Reports: “Aside from making it difficult to wash the business end of a baby, it looks to us like an accident waiting to happen. We haven’t tested the tub or similar products, but have concerns that it could tip over much too easily, especially when placed on the pedestal. More concerning, it’s not covered by U.S. safety standards that apply to baby bath seats and tubs.”

First Year’s Toddler Tub

Toddler Tub
But if safety is more important than your baby’s happiness, buying a Toddler Tub is the way to go. There’s little water available for bathing, which means there’s less a chance of drowning. But Toddler Tubs don’t allow for water cover and the baby will likely get cold waiting for the next scoop of water to spread across his or her chest. This option was a disaster when we tried it at home, with our son crying hysterically because of the cold air. Consider CleverPenName’s review on Amazon.com: “My baby hated this tub (with and without the sling) as did I. At most you can use it for sponge baths but you have to do it quickly or keep the baby covered with washcloths/towels because baby will get cold. I much prefer a tub where the body can be more submerged in warm water.”

Safety 1st Bath Seat

Baby Sit-up bath ring
Including found suction pads on its bottom and designed to allow for 360 degree swiveling, it would seem the Baby Bath Seat would better be suited for placing in the middle of the room and watching your baby spin round and round. While these bath rings are aimed at older babies who can sit up, it also means that your baby is less likely to be happy entrapped within a plastic ring whilst all that fun water is going on around. There’s also the question of tipping over, which means that your baby would have no way of avoiding a potentially serious head injury. Ironically named the Safety 1st Bath Seat, the device might add comfort to parents who aren’t willing to risk a slippery baby in soapy hands.

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