Once the cord stump is off and you move on to infant-tub baths, it's perfectly normal to be nervous. Baby gets so slippery when wet, and can't even sit up yet! But after the first few baths, your confidence will grow quickly. Approach baby's bath time as if it's a game, talking or singing to your little one. Introduce tub toys, if you'd like, or waterproof plastic picture books. Try making the bath a pre-bedtime ritual, well after baby has been fed—but before it's time for another feeding.
Use a baby tub until your baby is capable of sitting up without your help, or for about the first six months of life. Newer tubs come with supports that help hold baby's head up. Some of them also have heat sensors that warn you if the bath water is too hot.
You can use the baby tub in any room: Place it in the kitchen or bathroom sink, fill it with water and do the bathing on the changing table, or sit the baby tub in the big tub (but be forewarned—bending over might be hard on your back). About two inches of water in the little tub is all you need to clean baby thoroughly.
Bath time is also an opportunity for learning together. Show baby how to slap hands on the water to make it splash, as you say the word 'splash.' While holding tight onto baby, demonstrate how adding weight into the tub (your hand, for instance) makes the water rise higher on your baby's body. Or, by moving baby back and forth in the tub, you can create mini-waves for your baby to delight in. In no time, baby will get the hang of the game—and your bathroom will never be the same!
Do NOT leave the baby unattended for even a moment! ALWAYS keep baby within arm's reach.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.