When you think about bathing your baby, you might picture a fun and relaxing moment together. But in reality, bathing your newborn can be nerve-racking, especially if your newborn hates bath time.
First, you should remember that it’s pretty common if your baby hates the bath. It doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong! Learning how to calm your newborn during bath will help make this time of your day more enjoyable for everyone.
In this article, you’ll find the best bath tips for newborns aged 0-3 months and babies 3-12 months. Let’s get started!
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Why does my newborn hate the bath?
When learning how to calm your newborn during bath, it’s helpful to know why they might be upset first.
While there can be many reasons why your newborn hates bath, there are some reasons that are more common than others. Those reasons are:
- The water is too cold.
- Too much stimulation. For example, the room is too bright, or there is too much noise.
- Baby doesn’t enjoy the feeling of being in the water.
- The water irritates things like diaper rash or other skin conditions.
Keep these reasons in mind while trying different ways to calm your newborn during bath. If you suspect an additional reason is making your newborn upset, try out the suggestion that relates closely to the problem.
How to Calm Your Newborn During Bath (0 to 3-Months-Old):
Check The Water Temperature
The bathwater temperature is crucial when bathing any child. If the water is too hot, it could cause painful burns. If the water is too cold, it will make the bath unenjoyable.
When bathing a newborn, you need to ensure that the water is warm enough while not being too hot. It’s easy for your newborn to get chilled while in the water, so you might need to add fresh warm water after a few minutes.
To check your newborn’s bath water temperature, you can use this handy bath thermometer. The color on the bottom of the duck turns white if the water is too hot. Plus, it doubles as a cute, mold-resistant bath toy! You can always check the temperature using your wrist if you’d rather.
Fill The Tub Before Bringing Baby Into The Room
If you suspect that the noise of the water faucet is making your baby upset at bath time, try filling the bathtub before you bring your baby into the room.
Filling the tub before bringing your baby into the bathroom will ensure that the room stays quiet while your baby is present. Keeping the bathroom quieter will also help your baby stay calm if you bathe before bedtime.
Warm Up The Room
Newborns have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so they will need a little extra help staying warm. Warming up the bathroom before your baby’s bath time will help keep your baby from getting a chill.
The simplest way to warm up the bathroom is to run a hot shower before you fill your newborn’s bathtub. The hot steam from the shower will help keep the room warm, and the steam will help if your baby has any congestion.
Make Sure Baby Isn’t Hungry
It’s always good to ensure your baby isn’t hungry before starting any new task, and bath time is no different!
Feeding your baby before bath time will rule out the possibility that your baby is fussy because they’re hungry.
Just remember to feed your baby a little bit before bath time. Feeding your baby and then immediately going into the bath could cause some spit-up.
Is Baby Comfortable?
So, you’ve checked that the bathwater is the right temperature, and you know your baby isn’t hungry. Next, it’s good to make sure your baby is comfortable.
The first step to checking if your baby is comfortable is ensuring that their tub is the right size. If you are using a baby bathtub, are you using one specially made for newborns?
On the other hand, if you’re bathing your baby in the sink or a small tub (like from the hospital), it can be beneficial to use a bath cushion. This bath cushion gives your child a lot of padding, so they aren’t sitting on the hard tub. Not to mention, it’s highly rated and a #1 best seller!
Turn Down The Lights
If you suspect your baby is getting overstimulated during bath time, turning down the lights can be helpful. But don’t worry; if your bathroom lights can’t turn down, there is another option!
We bathed our son on top of our bed for the first few weeks. Putting our son’s baby bathtub on our bed allowed us to keep the lights dimmed by using lamps, plus it elevated the tub and helped relieve our backs.
Bathe When Baby Isn’t Overtired
Like bathing your newborn when they aren’t hungry, you should also ensure your child isn’t overtired at bath time.
When your baby becomes overtired, they are typically extra fussy, and it’s harder to calm them down. If you notice your newborn showing the signs that they’re overtired, it might be best to skip the bath or move bath to a different time.
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Sing or Play Calming Songs
When learning how to calm your newborn during bath, it’s always a good idea to try singing soothing songs. You can also play some quiet, calming songs on your phone during bath time if you’d rather.
When first starting, it’s helpful to have a song that you know always calms your baby down or a song that you sing or play frequently. When your baby hears the music, it can help to distract them and calm them down.
Cover With A Warm Washcloth
If your newborn struggles to keep warm during a bath, covering them with a warm, soft washcloth can do wonders.
All you have to do is run a washcloth under warm, but not hot, water and lay it over your baby’s belly/legs. You might have to run it under warm water every so often to keep it warm, but it will help to calm your newborn during bath.
Have Supplies Ready
A crucial tip when bathing a child of any age is to have your supplies ready. Once your baby is in the bath, you can’t leave them unattended. And if your baby is a newborn, you’ll need to have one hand on them throughout the whole bath.
When rounding up your supplies, you’ll want to ensure you have their towel, pajamas or clothing, soap, lotion, and anything else you regularly use.
Having your supplies within reach helps your baby’s bath stay efficient, and if your child does start to get fussy, you can quickly get them out of the tub and back into warm clothes.
Use a Newborn Bath Tub
Like ensuring your baby is comfortable, you’ll want to ensure that you use an appropriately-sized bathtub. If you use a bathtub that’s too large for a newborn, it might be uncomfortable, and you might have a more challenging time keeping them steady.
We used this baby bathtub with our son, and I loved that it had a newborn sling. The sling helped keep him stable and from slipping too far into the water. Plus, it was a little more like a comfortable cradle rather than sitting on hard plastic.
Then, once your baby outgrows the newborn sling, you can remove it and still use the tub for bathing your baby!
Avoid Water in Their Eyes
Many children hate getting water in their eyes, even when they are well past the baby stage. Taking steps to prevent water from falling into your baby’s eyes is a great way to keep your newborn calm during bath.
There are a few different ways to keep bathwater out of your baby’s eyes while rinsing their hair. The most straightforward option is to gently hold a dry washcloth to your baby’s forehead while you rinse their hair.
Next, you can try using a bendable rinsing cup like this one. This rinsing cup can form to the top of your baby’s head while rinsing, which helps to keep water off of your baby’s face.
And finally, you can use a rinsing headband like this one. These headbands will protect your baby’s face and ears from getting soaked during a rinse. Another nice thing about these headbands is that they can grow with your baby, and you can use them for a while.
Your newborn likely hates bath time because it feels so foreign. An easy way to calm your newborn during bath is to bathe with them. Bathing with your newborn doesn’t have to be in the tub. Many moms wash with their newborns in the shower, too!
If you choose to bathe your baby in the shower, it can be helpful to get a sling that’s made for the shower. Using a sling can help to give you more support.
Bathing with your baby will help calm them because they will feel secure with you holding them, plus they will have your body heat to keep them warmer.
Enlist Some Help
Another great way to calm your newborn during bath is to get some help. If you have your partner help you with bath time, it helps bath time get done faster, but it also gives your baby some more entertainment.
Another great thing about having your partner help with bath is having some bonding time as a family. As your newborn gets older and starts to enjoy bath time, it will be even more fun!
Why does my baby suddenly hate the bath?
As your baby grows and develops, you might find their likes and dislikes change. For example, your baby might love oatmeal, but suddenly they can’t stand it. The same goes for bath time!
If your baby suddenly hates the bath, there could be many different reasons for the change. For instance, they might be sensitive to different water temperatures or possibly scared of something like the fan, water faucet, or drain. Or, they could simply be overwhelmed!
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How To Calm Your Baby During Bath (3 to 12-Months-Old):
Ease into the Big Tub
Once your baby is sitting up unassisted and showing signs that they are ready for the big bathtub, you might be excited to make the big transition. But, it’s typically best to make the transition slowly.
An easy way to transition your child to the big bathtub is to put their baby bathtub inside it. Have a few baths with the small tub inside the regular bathtub, and then try the transition.
Another great thing to try once your baby is in the big bathtub is to start with only a little bit of water in the tub. Using less water will feel more similar to your child’s baby bathtub.
Create a Bathtime Routine
Creating a routine for recurring parts of your child’s day can be extremely helpful. And the same goes for bathtime!
Sticking with a routine helps your child to know what comes next. Once you start the routine, your baby will begin to understand what to expect, which can help bathtime go more smoothly.
When creating a bath routine, you’ll want to keep it about the same every day. Try to have bathtime around the same time of day and do the same things before and after bath.
For example, our son’s bath time is before bed. Typically, we try to do a calm-down time beforehand. Once it’s time for bath, we brush our son’s teeth, stay in the tub for about 20 minutes, and then put lotion and pajamas on. Then it’s time for his bedtime routine!
Give a bath routine a try, and don’t be afraid to tailor it to your family’s needs.
Introduce Bath Toys
As your baby ages, introducing bath toys can be perfect if they suddenly hate bath time. Playing with toys in the water can help take their mind off whatever has been making them upset in the tub.
When looking for bath toys for your baby, you’ll want to ensure they are mold resistant. The best bath toys don’t trap water inside of the toy. My son has loved these bath toys since he was around 9-months-old, and they are great for practicing pouring skills!
Play First, Then Wash
If you typically wash your baby right away and then let them play in the water, think about switching it up. Letting your baby play first before washing is especially significant if your baby becomes fussy during the washing.
Try a Shower
If your baby hates the bath, no matter what you try, give them a shower instead! We had to give our son a shower for about a week-long period because nothing else worked, and then he suddenly liked bath time again!
When showering your baby, know that it won’t be a ‘real’ shower because they are too small for the full-size shower. Instead, you’ll have your baby sit in the empty bathtub and quickly wash and rinse them.
Giving your baby this kind of ‘shower’ will be fast because you won’t want them to get cold. It’s essentially an in-and-out option to get the job done while avoiding a meltdown.
(Safely) Play With Water Throughout the Day
If your child dislikes being in the water, they might need more opportunities to play in it. Try helping your baby splash in a bowl or pan of water once or twice a day.
Use a Non-Slip Mat
To help your baby feel more comfortable in the bathtub, try using a non-slip mat at the bottom of your tub. Using a mat will not only give your child a little more cushion, but it will also give them some more stability.
Switch the Time of Bath
And lastly, when your baby is consistently fussy during bath time, it could just be a matter of bathing at the wrong time of day.
For example, if you usually bathe your baby at night, they might be fussy because they are getting overtired. Try moving bath time up by half an hour or switching to morning baths.
I hope you enjoyed these tips for calming your baby during bath time! Once you find which tips work best for your baby, you can focus on having a fun bath time and making plenty of special memories!
Before you go, check out these related articles:
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- How Many Baby Clothes You’ll Need In Each Size
- Essential Feeding Products For Starting Solids
- The Ultimate Guide To Buying Diapers For The First Year
What were your favorites ways to calm your newborn during bath time? I’d love to know in the comments below!