When my first child was born, I got the whole kit: a baby bath, a fabric seat to put in the bathtub, a range of plastic toys, baby oil….How wrong was I! Bathing time, which is meant to be a relaxing time, or at least a playful one, was a disaster. I dreaded bathing her because she would scream the entire time and I struggled to get a proper hold of her, so it was very stressful for both of us. I would usually get it over as soon as possible and take her out of her misery.
It took about a year until she slowly got used to it and started playing in her bath and enjoying it, and I was very fearful this would happen again with my second baby. Baby 2 had a complete difference experience however, and in fact it was so simple and easy to bathe her that I had to share that story. Baby 2 was born in a pool in hospital, so maybe she was conditioned from birth to feel at ease with water, but what made a big difference was a very simple ‘trick’ I read about while pregnant. It is so obvious that I really wondered why I had never thought of this before: you simply don’t need ANY equipment to bathe baby (well, provided you have a bathtub). Just fill the bathtub with a few centimeters deep of lukewarm water (Baby 1 had each bath obsessively checked with a special thermometer to make sure it was the right temperature, Baby 2…has never seen a thermometer 🙂 ). Then pop Baby in. Job done! The water should sort of reach ear level, not more. For more confort, you can place a mat or towel at the bottom of the tub. Obviously, be extra careful when baby starts rolling over, and never ever leave him unattended.
The really cool thing with this ‘method’ is that there is no plastic seat nor holder restricting the babe’s movement in any way: he is totally free to explore this new element, move his arms and legs, splash around… My baby absolutely loved her bath from the very beginning, and it made such a massive difference for me. Bath time was a little break during the day when we could both relax, and it was hugely enjoyable for me to see her laugh as she played with the water. I pretty much didn’t use soap nor baby oil with this baby either. We regularly attended baby massage sessions and I just used olive or coconut oil (almond is not recommended in case of allergies). Actually, I completely avoid baby products now, especially the Johnson’s ones.
If you don’t have a bathtub, or are traveling, another great option is the Shantala bath, suitable from birth up to 1 year. It is meant to reproduce the womb, and it is a smaller space than a baby tub as to make the baby feel more secure. Baby is sitting with water to his shoulder, and again he is unrestricted in his movements, feeling warm and safe. Shantala is actually a form of Indian massage during which mothers gently stretch their baby’s bodies, so it is quite an apt name.
Personally, once my daughter could sit up, I just used a large bucket and it did the job!