Babies are surprisingly messy; from spit up to diaper explosions it seems like they are constantly in need of a cleanup. Deciding how best to meet your little one's bathing needs takes some consideration. We spent over 60 hours researching over 40 popular baby bathtubs from classic tubs to inflatable and travel-sized foldable versions. We tested to find the best evaluating important factors like age use range, dimensions, ease of use, safety, quality, and ease of cleaning. With a keen eye towards safety and functionality, we share our 8 favorites and expert advice on how to make bath time a safe, fun, bonding experience for both you and your baby.
The Best Baby Bathtub Review
The Primo Eurobath is an extra-large, sturdy tub perfect for those who want one solution that will take a baby from infancy through the first two years. With multiple positions for infants, babies, and toddlers, it is perfect for babies to grow into or simply to enjoy extra space for splashing fun. One side has a recline position with support between the legs to keep infants from sliding down. The other side helps older babies sit upright unassisted. Primo states that the EuroBath is lead, phthalate, and BPA-free.
This tub is large and bulky and difficult to stow when not in use; it has a notched area so it can be hung, but that isn't always practical. Also, very small infants may have trouble staying in place despite the contoured shape and the Primo is devoid of any cushioning making it less than cozy for newborns. Hard plastic tubs can be slippery, so it is important to keep one hand on your baby at all times. If your home has space for this larger tub, and you want a durable bath for the long haul, then the Primo fits the bill.
The Shnuggle is a great infant bathtub that is easy to use, will keep your baby nice and warm and provides great support. This tub is the perfect compact addition to your baby gear lineup with a round shape that fits nicely into most kitchen sinks. The compact design also means minimal water use and the foam backrest and bum bump help keep your baby in a comfortable position while they stay warm in the water. Parents and babies both love bathing in this unique user-friendly bathtub.
The Shnuggle does not have a drain, so you need to keep an eye on the max fill line to avoid overfilling and creating a safety hazard. While not an issue for everyone, some parents may find taking little ones out of the tub to refill with clean water frustrating. Also, while it has cozy foam padding on the back of the tub, there is no padding on the seat which can cause some babies to slip around a bit if they are very active. In general, we are super impressed with the ease of use of the tub and think most families will find it solves the baby bath time conundrum.
If you want a budget-friendly tub you can use for years, The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe is a great choice. This inexpensive tub offers similar features to higher-priced competitors without sacrificing quality. It comes with the infant sling and can transition to a larger tub with an ergonomic reclining seat. This tub is small enough to fit in most kitchen sinks and has a side compartment for storing supplies or water for rinsing. We like how this tub has a separate area where you can fill water to rinse baby to help control water temperature.
Some users complain about mildew forming in the mesh sling or the sling ripping and having trouble staying put. The mildew isn't a real problem if you completely dry the mesh between uses. While some parents also reported stability issues, if the sling is adjusted correctly it shouldn't be a problem. This tub's drain plug can potentially leak, so you'll want to use the tub inside your sink or bath, or use it on a waterproof floor to avoid a significant mess. Despite these issues, we think this is a sound tub if you follow directions and take care of it properly.
The Blooming Baby Bath is a new spin on the traditional baby bath. This colorful plush baby bathtub has a sunflower design that cradles little ones in softness for bathing in your kitchen sink. The petals fold in various positions to custom fit various sinks and babies, and the soft towel material helps keep your baby warm and prevents slipping. This unique design has a hangtag for easy drying and storage, and it is washer and dryer friendly to keep it clean and hygienic.
The Blooming Bath could potentially accrue microbial issues from a contaminated kitchen sink or mildew from an improperly cared for flower. Therefore, it is important to disinfect your sink before every use and adequately wring and dry the tub after each use. The plush material will be soaked and heavy after use. If you live in a humid climate, it may be best to toss it in the dryer to ensure that it completely dries to avoid the build-up of bacteria. This baby bathtub is only suitable for infants up to 6 months (approximately), so you may need to look for another bath at that time if they aren't ready to sit unassisted in your home's tub. But, if you are looking for a super comfortable tub for your infant that is also adorable, it is an excellent choice.
The Fisher-Price Rinse 'n Grow is a great tub for families who want a one and done purchase. It features an adjustable sling that works perfectly for newborns or older babies who have more head and neck control. When your baby outgrows the sling, it turns into a bag for toys leaving the main basin as your new tub station. The tub also comes with two strainer toys that work well for rinsing and are fun to play with. The sling is machine washable, and the materials feel like they will last as your baby grows.
The bottom of the Fisher-Price Rinse 'n Grow does not have a non-slip surfacing to prevent the basin from moving. This means active kiddos could potentially scootch the tub around, so please use caution. If this isn't a big deal for you, then this baby tub can undoubtedly take you from infancy to toddlerhood for a wallet-friendly price.
The Puj Tub is a soft foam tub with an innovative design that folds to fit in the bathroom sink. Not only is the durable material comfortable for baby, but it is also BPA and PVC-free and mildew and mold resistant. The unique design and magnets allow it to fold to fit your sink and open to store flat. Puj also sells Puj Nubs (peel and stick hooks) to hang your tub. The compact nature of the tub makes it a perfect space saver for smaller bathrooms with limited storage. We like that it offers a safe area to bathe baby in a supportive manner. It can be challenging to hold onto soapy babies, and this tub makes bathing your infant a bit easier.
One of the significant drawbacks is it won't fit every sink size. The manufacturer gives sink dimensions of 12-15" for length and width, and 6.5-9" for depth, so measure your sink before purchasing to avoid fit issues. This tub is intended for infants, so you won't be using it long-term. With a maximum age of 6 months or 17 lbs, you'll need a Plan B once your little one reaches this milestone. Last, there are reports that the magnets that hold it folded together can come undone unexpectedly. Overall, we like how easy it is to wash your baby in this tub and how comfortable the baby is during bathtime.
The Summer Infant Comfort Height is a bathtub with a step stool that helps prevent back strain. Hunching over your bathtub is uncomfortable, so the platform raises your baby up to a more comfortable level to decrease fatigue. You can use the support on its own or in a sink or tub as support. As your baby grows, it can transition to a toddler tub for little ones who can sit unassisted. The step stool component separates and is suitable for adults up to 250 lbs, for years of continued use.
Unfortunately, the infant bather component does not attach to the toddler tub so the infant bather can shift during bath time. This shifting gets worse if there is standing water in the toddler tub, so following the manufacturer's instructions is critical. Also, Summer Infant places the warning labels inside the tub which creates peeling wet labels and sticky adhesive in the bath environment. These oversights aside, we think parents will appreciate the unique feature of raising the tub to a higher level to prevent back strain and discomfort.
Not Recommended: Counter Safety Concerns
Although we like that the Munchkin Clean has soft material that is BPA and phthalate-free and that it cradles the baby in a supported incline position, there are similar or better tubs without a countertop safety risk. According to the Munchkin website, this bather is designed for countertop use, which we strongly believe can create serious safety issues should the tub or little one fall from counter height. Having your baby on the counter in or out of the bath is dangerous. It is far too easy to accidentally knock the tub and your baby off the counter with disastrous results. We wish Munchkin would make a similar product that is not intended for countertop use. The current option is one we don't recommend because of the safety concerns related to the preferred and recommended use method.
Why You Should Trust Us
Baby bathtubs selection and testing took some serious forethought and thoughtful consideration because of the related potential safety concerns associated with babies and water. Luckily, our team was headed by our founder and board-certified pediatrician, Dr. Juliet Spurrier, mother of two. Dr. Spurrier uses her education, background, and experience as a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to make product selections with safety in mind. The team also includes Senior Review Editor and BabyGearLab review analyst, Wendy Schmitz. Wendy is a mother of two and works closely with testers for products ranging from baby bathtubs to strollers and most everything in between. Wendy has worked at BabyGearLab since 2014 and has a background in the scientific method and testing processes.
How to Bathe a Baby
There are many ways to bathe a baby from sponge baths for newborns, getting into the tub or shower with your little one, to washing a sitting, splashing infant in the kitchen sink, to using an infant-sized tub as we share above. These bathing styles share the common goal of safely cleaning your little bundle of joy. Whatever method you choose, there are potential safety issues to consider as well as tips for getting your little bundle of joy safely squeaky clean and to help make this time an enjoyable, bonding experience.
When it comes to bathing your little one, safety is key. The following includes tips to keep bath time comfortable, fun, and free of incident.
- Always One Hand — Always keep one hand on your baby during bath time. This habit helps ensure that you are present and watching their every move. Bathing can be a slippery situation, so keeping a hands-on process helps avoid injury.
- Supervise Baby at all Times — Because a child can drown in as little as one inch of water, NEVER, EVER leave your little one alone in the water. Resist the temptation to sneak out "for a second" for forgotten supplies as there is no reason important enough to put your child in danger.
- Avoid Falling Hazards — Choose a protected, stable, hard surface where you can safely bathe your child in an infant tub and avoid falling hazards. This could be the floor, your home's bathtub, the shower, or even inside a sink. As long as the infant tub is on a flat and stable surface away from high edges then the location is good.
- Safe Water Temperature — Babies have thin, sensitive skin. A temperature that feels comfortable to you, could be too hot for your little one. Experts recommended a water temperature between 98F to 100°F/38C, which is warm but not hot. Using a baby bath thermometer will help you determine the correct temperature. Always check to ensure that the baby's bathwater is an appropriate temperature before you place your baby in the bath. Make sure to "test" baby's tub of water with the inside of your wrist or elbow instead of your hand as they are more sensitive to temperature. Most importantly, do not place your baby directly under running water as the water temperature can fluctuate unexpectedly which increases the risk for a scalding injury.
Your water heater temperature should be set below 120 F to avoid scalding your baby. Refer to your user's manual or contact the heater manufacturer to determine the best way to adjust your heater for safety.
- Water Level — Do not overfill your baby's bathtub. The baby is not enjoying a relaxing soak at a day spa; they are there to get clean safely and swiftly. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should start with two inches of water. You want to fill the bath with enough water to keep your baby warm, but their entire body does not need to be covered by water. Placing a warm washcloth on their chest and tummy can help keep them warm. Gently pouring water on their body and the cloth also helps. Bathing in a warm room is a better way to keep your baby cozy than using more water or increasing the water temperature.
- Avoid the Countertop — Although some infant tubs are marketed for countertop use, we strongly suggest that you do NOT bathe your baby in an infant tub located on the counter. Countertop bathing comes with multiple safety hazards including the tub falling off the counter or the baby squirming out of the seat and falling. A fall from 3 feet for a baby is like an adult falling 10 feet. This kind of fall carries great risk of traumatic brain injury, skull or limb fracture, internal bleeding, and even death. Given the variety of options that offer a safer more secure bathing environment, there is no need to take this risk. As a result of these safety concerns, we don't recommend the Munchkin Clean which advertises countertop use as standard.
- Using Infant Tubs Inside a Bath Tub — When you bathe a baby in their infant tub placed inside your bathtub, the later should be empty with the water turned off and the drain open. These measures ensure that the infant tub is stable and you avoid any potential for scalding. If the infant tub doesn't feel stable inside the empty home tub, you should consider using the infant tub on the floor instead.
Baby Bathing Tips
If the concept of bathing a baby makes you sweat a little, you aren't alone. You can do this! It isn't as difficult as you think, as long as you are prepared. The following includes some helpful tips to make bath time a breeze.
- Newborn Bathing — Full-term newborns can have a sponge bath at home in the first few weeks while the umbilical cord stump is still intact. It is important to collect all of the supplies you'll need BEFORE you get your baby undressed. Your supplies might include a basin/tub with warm water, a washcloth, 2 to 3 drying towels, mild soap, unscented lotion (if desired), a clean diaper, and a fresh outfit. Undress your baby and lay him/her on a thick, soft towel. Use a dry towel over their body to keep them warm. Take a warm wet washcloth from the basin and wipe their face before moving to the scalp and so on. With a small amount of soap on your washcloth, gently wipe your baby clean a little bit at a time only removing the cover towel when you must to prevent your little one from getting distressed from being cold. Clean their genital area last to avoid any possible contamination. Last, use a soap-free/new warm washcloth to rinse their body. Pay special attention to skin folds and creases under the neck, ears, and armpits.
Do not panic if the umbilical cord stump gets wet before it falls off. The important thing is to keep the umbilical cord as clean and dry as possible until it falls off. This is called "dry cord care." However, if the umbilical cord gets dirty, be sure to clean it! After you wash it off, pat the cord dry with a clean, soft towel. If it needs more extensive drying, you can use a COOL hair drier (no warm or hot setting).
- Frequency of Bathing — Under normal circumstances, babies only need a bath 2 to 3 times a week; your baby's skin can dry out if bathed more frequently. In between baths, you can clean their face, neck, and genitals with a warm washcloth if needed.
- Use a Buddy System — Until you are used to bathing your infant, it is helpful to have another adult nearby to help. This person can retrieve supplies or offer comic relief. They can help entertain or distract the baby to increase the fun, and they can help decrease your stress too.
- Wash a Fed, Well-Rested Baby — Bath time is best when your baby is not hungry or tired. This helps increase your chances of success. However, as your baby gets older, a warm bath in the evening before bed can provide a soothing routine that cues bedtime.
- Shampoo and Body Wash — It's best to use a mild, tear-free soap on your baby. Most adult products have harsh fragrances and ingredients that can irritate your baby's sensitive skin and shouldn't be used.
- Be Prepared — Have your supplies ready before bath time. Being prepared can reduce any stress. If you forget something and are alone, pick your baby up and take them with you. Never leave a baby unattended in or near water.
- Breathe — Stay calm and bathe on. It takes practice to gain confidence in bathing your baby. This strange experience is new for you and your baby and it might not go smoothly at first. Take a deep breath. It gets better with time as you both get to know each other and basic routines.
Traveling can be tough when you have an infant. Wondering where you're going to bathe them on your journey adds an extra element of potential frustration. The Blooming Baby Bath is a good choice for travel as it folds up and fits in most luggage. You'll need to give it additional drying time or bring a Ziploc bag for wet travel.
A great tub can help make bath time more enjoyable for you and baby, which makes it valuable baby gear that we encourage parents to give consideration. Bathing your baby can be a fun and relaxing experience once you both get the hang of it, but not if your tub is lacking. Choosing a great tub, learning the basics, and following simple but important safety measures means you'll be a bath time pro in no time.
— Juliet Spurrier, MD & Lindsay Selig