Safety experts come clean with tips for enjoying mom-and-baby tub time.
Who doesn't love the intoxicating scent of a fresh-from-the-bath baby? Just inhaling the top of your little one's head after she's been washed is sheer bliss! If you're ready to get in on the fun and join your baby in the tub, consider these expert tips to promote bath safety and to ensure an enjoyable experience for both of you.
How Soon is Now?
You can start bathing with your baby as soon as her umbilical cord has fallen off—generally about one to four weeks after birth. "If your baby can't sit up yet, then Mom will need to hold him or her to provide support," says Dr. Heather Felton, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.
Not Too Hot
When filling up the tub, be sure to use a non-skid mat for bath safety and check that the water is at the right temperature (no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit). "If you don't have access to your water tank to set the temperature, install a scald protector at the tub," suggests Alison Jacobson, The Safety Mom and CEO of CJ First Candle.
Prep for the Tub
Before getting in the bath, be sure you have all the necessities within arm's reach: mild bath soap, towels (for both of you), bath toys and something to wash your baby with. Jacobson recommends a bath mitt over a wash cloth because "it allows you to keep two hands on your baby."
Take a Seat...or Not
While it's not necessary to have a bath ring or seat for your child, it provides a place for your baby to sit when she's not in your lap. However, these bath safety products should not act as a substitute for you. "Don't rely on products that are meant to prevent infant drowning," says Felton. "They give parents a false sense of security that they could step away for a minute."
Getting In and Out
To minimize the risk of injury, ask your partner to hand you your child once you are settled in the tub and after you are ready to get out. If no one is available, you can place your baby in a bouncy seat both before and after the bath. If possible, wrap your baby in a towel first, hold the baby against you and then wrap a towel around yourself. "Babies can get cold very quickly, but skin-to-skin contact is very warm," says Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician in Calabasas, Calif.
Avoid Possible Pitfalls
Like any first-time parenting experience, there are bound to be some bath blunders. Don't sweat it if you forget to grab that rubber duckie sitting on the sink or to set up a bath mat outside the tub. "Never rush to get out of the tub, no matter what," says Jacobson. "If the phone rings or you've forgotten something, let it go. Your baby's safety is far more important."