When Should I Stop Using a Baby Bath?

How & When to Make the Transition

Mum pouring soap on hand, baby in bathtub
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The baby bath is the perfect vessel in which to wash up your little one, but at what point does your child outgrow it? There's really no fixed rule about when you should stop using a baby bath, but most babies are ready for the bathtub at around 6 months or whenever they are able to sit up and support themselves on their own.

Your child's size might have a lot to do with why you haven't switched. Some children quickly outgrow the baby bath, while others still fit inside comfortably at one year old. There are also other factors: Maybe your baby can sit up but doesn't have complete control of their body just yet. Maybe you want to save water by sticking to a small baby bath. Do whatever you're comfortable doing and what works best for your child.

Here are some tips that might be helpful if you've started thinking about leaving the baby bath behind:

Transitioning to the Tub

A small, constricting baby bath is a lot different than a huge bathtub, and your little one will probably notice. Put the baby bath into the bathtub to transition. If you've been using the baby bath somewhere other than the bathroom, move it into the bathroom for a while to familiarize your child with the environment before putting it into the regular bathtub.

The first few times in the tub can be a bit scary, especially if your child isn't fond of baths in the first place. This is especially true if you've been using a European-style tub that offers a very tight, comfortable fit and back support; a far cry from a wide-open tub.

Take Appropriate Safety Measures

Make sure you have everything you need at your side so you're not tempted to leave the room or turn your back on your child. They might be old enough for the big tub, but they certainly aren't ready to be unsupervised. Your child will need your constant supervision during every bath in the regular tub just like they did when you had them in the baby bath.

Make sure the bathroom is warm. Test the water before placing your child in it. It should feel a little cooler than your ideal temperature. Fill the tub with just an inch or two of water. Add more water as your child grows and is better able to control their body.

Ease Back Pain

Some parents are reluctant to transition from a baby bath to a big tub because all of that bending over causes major back strain. If that's the case, use the kitchen sink, as long as your child still fits. You'll be able to stand, which will reduce stress on your back.

If this isn't possible, keep baths short, but just long enough to get the job done. One mom I know had a special sling for bath time, like the Bathing Buddies shower sling. She'd pop her child in the sling and they'd take a shower together.

Use a Bath Seat

Your best bet for a seamless transition to the big tub is waiting until your child can sit up on their own. If your child is almost there, but not quite, you can still make the move to the big tub by using a bath seat. In addition to supporting your child, it will also prevent them from laying down in the water and moving about freely if those are things you don't want them to do.

A Note on Soaps & Shampoos

A quick word of advice on soaps and shampoos: I say you should keep using tear-free products for as long as possible. They're very effective and it really does take toddlers a while to master getting their hair rinsed out without getting anything in their eyes. Little ones also tend to be splash-happy, and soapy water manages to get into their eyes that way, too.

Once you've experienced the burning, stinging, soap-in-the-eyes, screaming, crying meltdown it'll be hard to regain that trust from your toddler again. Avoid making bath time a battle by sticking with tear-free soaps and shampoos.