Ahhhhh bathtime. For kids and parents alike, it can be one of the best parts of the day. For parents, it means a couple kid-free minutes (and perhaps a glass of wine) are just around the corner, while they run themselves a bath. For kids, it signals the start of what is, hopefully, a cozy, cuddly, lavender-scented bedtime routine.
However, bath time doesn’t come without an inherent set of risks, as is the case any time parents combine little kids and water. That’s not only because parents might step out of the room or look away for long enough that a little one can go under the water. That risk will always be there because mistakes happen.
The real problem is that retailers are always on the search for new, better and trendier bath products and toys. While they are practical and inventive, as some of them may be, some of them simply don’t stand up to safety testing. There are lotions, potions, soaps and shampoos that contain ingredients many of us would cringe to know about. And, there are toys, tubs, gadgets and gizmos that have ended up causing injury and unfortunate accidents.
On the flip side, of course, are the amazing products that make bath time easier and more fun for parents and kids alike. These products are ones that are safe and given the thumbs up by experts. The problem is knowing which category these awesome new bath products fall into.
Which is where this handy list comes in. Here are 10 amazing must-have bath time products guaranteed to make kids and parents happy, and five that experts suggest parents steer clear from.
15 Infant Tub With A Contoured Slant - Perfect For Newborns
Gone are the days of babies needing to be bathed in the kitchen sink (although this does make for a cute photo op if you can be bothered to get the dishes out first). These days, there are millions of baby bathtubs on the market, all of which make it easy and convenient to give newborns comfy, relaxing, and, most importantly, safe baths. And, if you've ever tried to bathe a tiny, soapy, squirmy baby, you'll know that it's not as easy as it seems.
Infant tubs are the perfect product to use when a baby is not yet old enough to sit, unassisted, in a big tub. They also come with the added bonus of being usable on any countertop - saving parents from the backbreaking ordeal of kneeling on the bathroom floor and leaning over the side of the tub.
Baby tubs are designed with a gentle slope and removable mesh sling, both of which allow for the baby to recline gently without lying all the way back. These bathtubs are the greatest invention and a must buy.
The experts at BabyCenter suggest looking for a tub that's easy to clean, and ideally one that comes with mildew-resistant (or washable) lining. "Look for a contoured, smooth shape that will be comfortable for your baby. There should be a plug at the base so you can easily drain out the water," the experts at BabyCenter say.
14 Stay Upright With Non-Slip Mats
"Sit down in the tub. On your bum. Sit on your bum or you'll fall and hurt yourself. Okay, bathtime is over."
Sound familiar? Parents can say the same thing over and over, but for some reason, they Just. Don't. Listen. Even when it comes to their safety.
Now, moms can take the old-school approach: "Let them fall. They'll do it once and learn their lesson, and never do it again." Or, she can say "I'd rather not deal with the dental bill when he falls on her face," and instead work on mitigating injury. And, one easy and affordable way to mitigate bathtub injury, aside from pleading with a toddler to SIT DOWN, is to invest in non-slip grips for the tub floor.
There are tons of amazing options out there, including rubber mats (we have one that's shaped like a whale), or little non-slip grips in the shapes of animals that often come in a pack of six or eight.
Warning: the suctions do get mildewy, so whatever you decide to buy, make sure to give it a good clean occasionally.
13 No - No's: Squirt Toys
Squirt toys may be the most ubiquitous bath toy out there - they're inexpensive, fun to play with, and come in the guise of all our kids' favorite characters. But, there's a hidden danger within these, otherwise, innocent-looking toys: Mold. Parents will know if their child's squirter toy has mold by giving it a good squeeze, and black sludge comes out.
Any item that traps moisture inside has the potential to grow mold, including sippy cups, nasal aspirators and teething toys. In addition, squirt toys are one of the biggest culprits. That's because you squeeze as much water out as you can at the end of the bath, the opening is still so small that moisture is bound to still be in there. According to Care.com, once mold gets inside a squirter or even a sippy cup, it's hard to get rid of it and should be thrown away.
Some parents try to keep water out of squirters by squeezing a dollop of hot glue over top of the opening, but I've found the glue usually pops off after a couple weeks, and I'll find little blobs of hardened glue floating around the tub.
If you do want to hang on to your squirt toys, you can try cleaning them with a mixture of water and vinegar, making sure the vinegar makes it into the squirt toy. Otherwise, consider treating them like take-and-toss toys, and do away with your stash every few months, replacing them with new ones.
12 Skip The Ouchy, Get A Bathtub Spout
Tub spout covers are among a group of kids' items that some parents will claim are a waste of money, and others swear are a necessity. I fall into the latter category, and here's why: It's better to be safe than sorry. Kids don't always do as they're told (i.e. "don't stand in the tub"), and when they are slippery with soap, or getting rough with siblings in the bath, it only takes a millisecond for someone to slip and bonk their head on the metal faucet.
If you've ever seen my kids fight over a bath toy, you'll know why I invested in a spout cover. And it's paid for itself many, many times already.
There are dozens of adorable spout covers on the market, usually shaped like a friendly animal. They slip on easily to your tub's faucet to protect squirmy little ones from bathtime-related head injuries. Some of them even have a little reservoir in the top that allows caregivers to pour in bubble bath.
Look for one with rounded contours, and one that has a strap allowing it to be tightened onto the spout (otherwise it will just fall off).
11 Invest In A Good Bath Thermometer
I can't tell you how many times I've drawn my kids a bath, checking the temperature of the water as it comes out of the faucet, only for them to stick a toe in the tub and scream "too cold!" or "too hot!" WHAT?
"It's perfect!" I'll insist to them, dunking my whole arm into the tub and swishing the water around, as they jump up and down on the bathmat in distress, insisting: "We're not getting in there!" *sigh*
Well, according to BabySafetyConcerns.com, finding the right bath water temperature is elusive, because "the right temperature" changes depending on baby's age and temperament.
Newborns, in particular, require a specific temperature because they don't have the ability to regulate their own body temperature. According to BabySafetyConcerns.com, which suggests newborns be bathed in water between 37°C and 38°C. Meanwhile, older babies and children will be comfortable in water between 36°C and 38°C (97°F and 100°F).
You can test the water by using your wrist or elbow (both of which are more sensitive to temperature than your hand.) However, as I've learned from my own kids, that's not very scientific. And given that babies' skin is so sensitive and thin, they can receive 3rd d3rd-degrees in less than five seconds, it may not be something parents are even willing to risk.
Which is why a bathtub thermometer is a must-have for parents. Look for digital thermometers that double as a bath toy - like a floating duck or turtle. Win-win!
10 No - No's: Toxins In Soaps And Shampoos Containing These 4 Ingredients
Finding safe, gentle lotions and potions for my little ones' delicate skin has been a source of stress over the past few years. The market is super saturated with kid products, all claiming to be the best, gentlest, most organic, most lab-tested and most expert-certified product out there. How can you tell what company makes a product that's genuinely good for your baby, and which one's just feeding you spin?
Well, according to KulaMama.com, a website devoted to finding holistic and healthy products for kids and families. There are four ingredients in particular to watch out for when buying baby bath products:
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate, which can trigger skin allergies and other reactions;
- 1,4-dioxane, a known animal carcinogen, which can be a skin irritant, as well as causing problems to the respiratory system;
- Formaldehyde or Formaldehyde-Releasers, which are used as preservatives, and have been linked to respiratory problems like asthma, and
- Engineered fragrance, which can contain thousands of unnamed chemicals that are impossible for savvy parents to trace because they're protected under law as trade secrets.
9 No More Tears With Shampoo Rinsers
It only took one incident of using non-kid-friendly shampoo and having shampoo get into my daughter's eyes, for her to decide that getting her hair washed was torture and tantamount child abuse. Then, we spent the next two years bribing and begging her to let us wash her hair. Getting her to lean back to rinse the shampoo out was so awful for all of us that bath time became a nightmare.
Nothing seemed to work, until I bought - on a whim - a shampoo rinser, and tried it on my reluctant preschooler in the tub that night. When she realized I could wash her hair and rinse it out without any water getting in her eyes, it was a game changer for both of us, and we've used it for every bathtime since then.
The rinser is just a plastic vessel with a handle on it. One side of the rim is flexible silicone, which moulds perfectly to the shape of her forehead, allowing the water to pour down the back of her head without any of it getting in her eyes.
Bath time has gone back to being a joy for all involved. Bonus: My daughter's hair is cleaner!
8 Get Bath Crayons For The Picasso Of The Family
Bath toys can be a pain in the butt to tidy up and keep clean. You need to find a big enough container to hold them all when they're not in use, and one that drains properly, to boot. Plus, they occasionally need to be run through the dishwasher. And, if your kids are anything like mine, they'll probably get bored of their bath toys within a week, anyway.
Then, I discovered bath crayons and markers. My kids can't get enough of them, and will quietly colour the tub walls until they become soapy human prunes. Bath crayons and markers come in all the colours of the rainbow, and can easily be wiped off the side of bathtubs with a wet cloth. Soap-based ones can even be used for gently colouring on each other's arms or legs.
Best of all, they are safe and fun for kids of any age, from babies just learning to hold on to objects, to big kids learning to write. Bonus: They take up almost no space, and when they're done, you chuck the plastic tube (recycling, ideally!) and it's gone.
7 No - No's: Drain Covers
I didn't even know that bathtub drains posed a hazard until reading a story about a little boy who got his finger stuck in the drain at bath time.
In 2017, three-year-old Australian toddler, Leo Diener, got three fingers stuck in his family's tub drain, during bath time. His mom quickly called first responders, who managed to free the little boy in only an hour, according to Yahoo News.
It took much longer for 15-month old, Olivia Hampton, (also from Australia), whose finger was stuck in her bathtub for a whopping seven hours while fire crews and plumbers worked tirelessly to free her, according to Kidspot.com. The entire tub had to be removed, with baby Olivia and her father inside it, and the rescue operation involved drilling through the ceiling of the apartment beneath the tub.
The Internet is full of stories of toddlers getting their fingers stuck in tub drains and having to be rescued or cut free by paramedics, fire departments, and plumbers. If only we all knew about drain covers.
Bathtub toy brand Boon sells an adorable bathtub drain cover shaped like a stingray that acts like a suction, preventing water from draining, and keeps curious little fingers away from drains.
6 Science During Bathtime - Win Win
There's no shortage of bath toys on the market, and the sheer number of options available can be overwhelming. What toys are going to stand the test of time, and which ones are going to get tossed aside after a week, gathering dust (or mold) in the bottom of a bathroom drawer?
Well, let me introduce you to kids' bath pipes - the bath toys my own kids can't seem to get enough of. There are a variety of toy brands that sell bath pipes, which have suctioned that allow them to stick to the side of the tub. They can then be moved around and used on their own or together, allowing your little one to pour water or bubbles into the funnel, and watch how it flows through the pipes to the other end.
DIY and crafty parents take note: You can also make your own bath pipes using funnels, and PVC pipes and elbows from the hardware store. When you're done reading this list, head to Pinterest, and there are dozens of sites that will walk you through the process.
5 Bathtub Dividers Are Eco-Friendly And Practical
This is a brilliant invention for parents looking to save time at bathtime, as well as energy costs when running water to fill the tub.
Bathtub dividers, also known as bathtub gates or bathtub dams, allow caregivers to turn a standard tub into a small kids'-sized tub any size of your choosing. The idea is that by partitioning off part of the tub, you can use less water to fill the bath while containing your little one to a smaller area for play (which is handy when a baby is sitting up unassisted, but still prone to toppling over while reaching for toys. Of course, always stay within arms reach!
And, because, you can customize the size of the tub, you can shrink or grow it to accommodate more toys or even siblings.
You may have seen parents create similar hacks by putting their baby in a laundry hamper in the tub, but we think bathtub dividers are much more practical, and they look better too!
4 No - No's: Infant Bathtub Seats
Most parents have a healthy amount of paranoia when it comes to their kids and water safety, and given how frequently we bathe our kids, that paranoia tends to occur several times a week around bath time. We know that we should not leave our kids unsupervised in the bath, and to draw only enough water for them to play in, but ideally not enough where they could become fully submerged.
But many of us might not know that an adorable, and seemingly practical, bath time item, the bath seat, also poses a drowning risk.
Bath seats are kind of like Bumbo seats - but for the bath. They're designed for little ones who aren't yet old enough to comfortably sit unassisted in the tub. Unfortunately, most experts and consumer groups warn parents that bath seats - as well as bath rings (which you put around baby's neck to let her float unassisted) are not safe.
According to KidsInDanger.org, bath seats are often misused by parents because they offer a "false sense of security." Children have been known to tip or slip out of the seats, and because some of them come with suctions on the bottom (which can detach from the tub), the seats have been known to topple over with the child still sitting in it.
According to injury-prevention website Parachute, Health Canada has issued an advisory on bath seats. It found that between 2003 and 2005, Canadian doctors reported "20 injuries and 12 near-miss drowning incidents involving baby bath seats."
Statistics are similar in the United States. CPSC Nursery Product Reports found that an average of seven children dies using bath seats, every year. In fact, CPSC has begun a petition to ban bath seats outright. So, if your baby loves bath time, but is still too small to sit unassisted, stick to the hard-sided recliner tub, and trust us when we say that she'll be big enough to sit up in no time!
3 Buy A Water Deflector
First and foremost, water deflectors are straight up fun, especially for little ones who need a bit of cajoling when it comes to getting their hair wet.
A water deflector diverts and diffuses the water flow when you turn on the bathtub faucet, creating a gentle waterfall that's not only fun to play with, but also encourages young children to experiment with tilting their heads back and getting their hair wet. For kids who hate getting their hair washed, this is a perfect product to help make rinsing a little bit easier.
I love this product because our tub is often filled with bubble bath or soap, or otherwise dirty water, by the time my kids need to get the shampoo out. This is a great way to rinse your little one's hair with fresh, clean water.
Best of all, water dispensers also serve double duty as spout protectors to prevent injury, and some brands even have bubble bath dispensers and water temperature thermometers built in. Overall, a great product, and a must-have for bath time.
2 No - No's: Inflatable Tubs
Inflatable tubs seem like a fantastic idea for parents who are travelling and need to bring a bath with them, or for families that don't have a tub in their home. But experts are now warning of the dangers of using inflatable baby tubs.
According to KidsHealth.org, the ideal tub for an infant or child is one made of thick, hard plastic, which will "stay firm in the center, even under the weight of the water."
Because inflatable tubs can be squished, squeezed and compressed, they pose more of a drowning risk than tubs with solid sides, and so experts advise against using them.
Another risk of inflatable tubs, according to ConsumerReports.org, is that parents have been known to put them inside a larger tub that's already filled with water, essentially treating the product as a sort of floaty, which can tip over or collapse.
The experts stand united: Stick with hard-sided tubs.
1 Double No - No: Bath Bucket
Bath buckets are basically large bathing pails for babies. Why would you want to cram your child into a bucket rather than putting him in a tub? Well, because they're space savers, for one, and they allow the child to sit upright - which is a bonus if they haven't quite mastered that skill yet. And some people even say they are calming for babies.
Unfortunately, experts and consumer groups advise against these trendy new bath devices.
The tubs, according to ConsumerReports.org, were created in the Netherlands, and sell online for as much as $50. Proponents of bathtubs allege they recreate a "womb-like" experience, while also helping to alleviate colic.
Experts at ConsumerReports.org, however, say there's a risk that the tubs could tip over, citing one model that actually comes with a pedestal. There's also a risk that babies could topple head first into a bucket that has water in it and has been left unattended.
Plus, they add: "Safety issues aside, we think it would be hard to thoroughly wash a baby in a bucket, and we're not convinced they are practical or superior to conventional baby bathtubs."