Between collecting all the necessary supplies and making sure your child is warm and safe, preparing yourself for baby bathtime can be a daunting experience. Although baths generally get easier as little ones get older, it’s always best to make sure you have everything you need nearby before filling up the tub.
From personal experience with our two young children, here’s our ultimate checklist of baby bath essentials, so you’ll always be prepared for a fun, engaging, and safe bathtime:
Our Top 20 Baby Bath Essentials
Keeping your child safe in the bath means staying close by and not having to run to the other room to grab supplies. Here are our top eight items to keep by the tub so you’re always ready to wash your precious baby’s sandy beach skin or post-restaurant dinner messes:
1. Baby bathtub or travel bather
Baby bathtubs are a great baby shower gift for new moms. Popular choices include Fisher-Price’s 4-in-1 Sling ‘n Seat Tub, The First Years’ Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn-to-Toddler Tub, and Frida Baby’s 4-in-1 Grow-with-Me Bathtub. Alternatively, some parents use a bath seat, like Angelcare’s Baby Bath Support, that keeps baby steady when washing up in a large sink or full-size bathtub.
We love our Oxo Tot Splash & Store Bathtub because the body of the tub collapses and the legs tuck underneath when not in use. We can easily fold it up and hang it in the shower or on the back of the bathroom door to save space.
A travel bather is also critical for family trips during your infant’s first few months of life. When we’re adventuring away from home in those early days, we pack our Sure Comfort Folding Baby Bather by The First Years. Its sling-style seat helps give support for baths in the kitchen sink or bathroom tub, and it collapses flat for travel and storage. It’s small and lightweight enough for air and car travel.
2. Bath mat
Once your baby is steady and confident sitting upright on their own, they might be ready for a full-size bathtub. When you make the switch, it’s important to use a bath mat to prevent your son or daughter from slipping.
We love our adorable whale-shaped bath mat from Skip Hop, but it can be helpful to have a more substantial one that covers the entire area of the bathtub, like this XL Non-Slip Bathtub Mat by Slipx Solutions. Having an extra-long bath mat was critical for sudsing up our firstborn, who refused to sit in the tub for the first two years of his life. He opted instead to stand for the entire duration of his baths, until one day he realized it’s much more comfortable to sit down in the warm water.
No matter which mat you choose, be sure to hang it up to dry immediately after use to prevent the buildup of mildew.
There are plenty of great baby-friendly soaps on the market, like Johnson’s Head-to-Toe Gentle Baby Body Wash & Shampoo or Aquaphor’s Unscented Baby Wash and Shampoo. Additionally, we’ve found Aveeno’s Cleansing Therapy Moisturizing Wash to be helpful for extra-dry skin.
Bundles that include baby soap and other bathtime essentials from Honest Company or Aveeno also make for thoughtful baby registry gifts. As little tykes get older, don’t forget to amp up the fun with some foaming bubble bath soap.
Look for washcloths that are soft and gentle for sensitive skin. Thinner, smaller washcloths make it easier to clean tiny creases under the arms and neck, where dirt likes to hide. We love our classic terry washcloths by Burt’s Bees and Luvable Friends, but you can’t go wrong with similar options from Gerber and Carter’s. Choosing fun, animal-themed washcloths like the ones in these adorable elephant, flamingo, and unicorn bundles can also help get your youngster excited for scrubbing clean.
5. Scalp brush
Cradle cap is a common form of seborrheic dermatitis that presents as crusty scales on the scalps of infants between 2 weeks and 12 months old. If you have an infant struggling with this, your pediatrician may recommend a special scalp brush.
We’ve had a great experience with Frida Baby’s DermaFrida Skin Soother. Safety 1st’s Soothing Scrub Wet Brush and Haakaa’s Silicone Shampoo Brush are also popular choices. Be sure to check with your pediatrician before using these products to treat your baby’s scalp.
Whether your child is bathing in a sink, full-sized bath tub, or baby bathtub, you’ll need a vessel to rinse the soap off their hair and skin. We use Skip Hop’s whale-shaped Waterfall Bath Rinser, which has a special lip to keep water from sloshing onto little eyes and ears, but any large cup, pitcher, or plastic container will do.
7. Bath spout cover
There’s nothing worse than wiping away tears after your baby bumps their head on the hard bath spout. Keep their precious noggin protected with one of these cute spout covers by Munchkin, Skip Hop, or Infantino. While you’re at it, don’t forget to keep a drain stopper on hand to keep warm water from leaking out of the bath.
8. Kneeler and elbow pad
If you have a tot who likes extra-long bathtimes, it’s worth investing in a soft pad to keep your knees comfortable instead of resting them on the hard bathroom floor. Along with a spout cover and rinser, this Moby Bathtime Essentials kit from Skip Hop comes with cushy knee and elbow pads that will have your joints thanking you.
Toys are a priority in our household, and bathtime is no exception. Our kids love to play in the bath, and it’s a great way for them to experiment with water without making a mess all over the house. Although a simple stack of plastic cups or a set of mixing bowls will often do the trick, here are some of our favorite bath toys to keep babies and toddlers entertained in the tub:
9. Stacking cups or buckets
For less than $6, this set of Stack & Count Stacking Cups from The First Years remains one of our most highly recommended toys for home and travel. The cups provide fun in and out of the bath for babies and for toddlers, and they nest within each other to save space for storage and for traveling.
We also recently bought these animal-themed stacking bath buckets for our daughter’s first birthday. Although they aren’t as compact, their handles make them easy to hold, and our kids enjoy watching water rush into them and trickle out.
10. Suction toys
Take advantage of the smooth surface on the side of the tub with bathtime letters or toys that suction in place. Bath suction toys encompass everything from simple spinners and gears to complex lab toys, networks of connecting pipes, basketball hoops, and waterfalls.
11. Bath boats
Boats are fun ways for kids to test out what floats and what sinks in the bath. We’ve made our own boats using guidance from our son’s Highlights magazine, but we also own a few boat toys that make for great gifts for little ones. We love our Fleet of Five Boats by Munchkin, our Boat and Buoys by Ubbi, and our Tugboat by Green Toys that comes with a coordinating board book.
12. Toys that squirt or pour water
Tiny critters that squirt water are ideal first bath toys for young babies. They help keep the process fun, and they’re easy for little hands to hold and squeeze. As your child grows, introduce new textures with Infantino’s Ball Set, or turn the tub into a car wash with Disney’s Cars Bath Bucket Playset.
Whenever you use flexible toys that fill up with water, make sure to empty them out completely to prevent the buildup of mildew. As an alternative, opt for Ubbi’s Interchangeable Bath Toys that pour water and are safe to clean in the dishwasher.
13. Bath blocks
Foster your child’s love for construction and see how high they can build on rough waters with these clever Floating Blocks by Edushape. The set of foam blocks comes with a floating construction board and — our favorite part — its own mesh bag for drying and storing all 16 pieces.
14. Battery-powered bath toys
If you really want to go all out for bathtime, invest in some battery-powered toys that swim across the tub, light up the water, or shoot sprinklers into the air. When the tub is shared between two tots, this Flow ‘n Fill toy by Yookidoo creates a second spout so that each child can have their own water source — something that’s been a lifesaver in our house!
15. Bath toy organizer
As your toys accumulate, you’ll need a spot to let them dry after each use and set them aside to keep things tidy between baths. Munchkin makes mesh containers that scoop up toys and suction to the wall or corner of the tub area. You can also use any mesh bag and a couple bath hooks to secure your toy collection to the wall and hang it up and out of the way.
One of the most important parts of preparing to get that baby clean is making sure you have everything you’ll need once you pull them out of the water. Here are our top five items to have on hand to keep your little one warm and comfortable after bathtime:
Few things are more adorable than a tiny human in a hooded towel. Go for an animal-themed option, or grab a set of three to make sure you always have one clean. When I’m managing newborn bathtime by myself, I like to lay the towel out on our BabyBjörn Bouncer before starting the bath. That way, it’s ready to lay baby down on top of and wrap her up snugly once she’s clean.
17. Fresh diaper
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but there’s nothing worse than being stuck with a wet baby and no fresh diaper nearby to protect their little bottom. Make sure your infant is nice and dry before putting it on, and apply a coat of diaper rash cream if needed.
18. Baby moisturizer
If your youngster struggles with dry skin, ask your pediatrician about selecting a daily moisturizer. Look for products targeted for delicate baby skin. In our experience with a pediatric dermatologist, we were told that creams, ointments, and balms such CeraVe and Aveeno are more effective than lotions, but be sure to check with your child’s doctor for guidance.
19. Clean, dry clothing or robe
Pediatricians recommend applying cotton-based clothing right after moisturizing your tyke’s body. Cotton garments help to lock in moisture, prevent sweat buildup, and protect dry skin. If you really want some post-bath cuteness overload, put your baby in one of these cozy cotton robes.
20. Comb or brush
We hope our list of baby bath essentials keep you prepared and excited for fun times in the tub with your son or daughter. With the right supplies and some engaging toys, bathtime can be an entertaining playtime for little ones. It can also be a great bonding experience for parent and child.