Do You Really Need a Baby Bath Tub? [+ Alternatives]

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Do you need a baby bath tub?

Babies need a lot of extra stuff, but is a bath really a must have item? Read on if you are wondering if you truly need a baby bath tub for your new addition.

Before I had a baby, I was very leery of getting more baby stuff than absolutely necessary. We lived in a small space and I’m very frugal by nature so erring on the side of baby minimalism came naturally.

Let’s be real, baby baths looked bulky and with a short lifespan so I was skeptical of them from the jump. Plus, I had seen a lot of pictures of friends’ babies taking sink baths and thought they were on to something.

Still, I grabbed a curb alert baby tub just in case and hoped it was something I’d be able to give away as soon as possible.

Then I had a newborn and as it turns out, they’re very fragile and slippery. We ended up using that baby bath after all.

So unlike some of my other posts on why you don’t really need a crib and why you don’t need a diaper pail, deciding on whether you need a baby bath is going to be a more complex and personal decision.

You can definitely live without one. You only use baby baths for a short time and I suggest some alternatives to baby baths to get you through the first months down below.

However, for some people, baby tubs will make your life a lot easier and they’ll be worth their reasonable price tag.

So let’s dive into the nitty gritty to help you decide whether you actually need a baby bath tub.

And if you want to know what other baby gear you can skip, don’t forget to check out: do you really need a bassinet for your baby?

What is a baby bath tub?

First, what exactly is a baby bath tub? It is a miniaturized bath tub designed with support for babies before they can sit up independently. Many baths also offer extra support for newborns before they can hold their heads up.

There are generally two types of baby tubs. The first is a standalone tub that you place in your bath tub or shower. These tubs you fill up with water and sit on ground level while you wash your kid. Some examples of these types of baths are the popular SkipHop version and a basic First Years version.

The second type of baby bath are inserts you can put in your sink in lieu of the tub or shower. These inserts add support and keep your baby more secure than if they were just in the sink.

Sink insert baby baths are nice because they are smaller and easier to store, and it is more comfortable for the adult to not have to crouch during the bath. The negative of sink inserts is they are more time limited and your baby will outgrow them fairly quickly.

There are a few baby bath options that are easier to store, like a foldable tub (this is what we use) or an inflatable tub like this cute duck from Munchkin (though I worry about longevity with inflatables).

How long will you use a baby bath tub?

You may be wondering how long you will need a baby bath tub. In general, a baby bath is helpful until a baby is able to sit unassisted at around 6-8 months old. Once they can sit well, they are able to sit in the regular bath tub if you wish.

That said, the length of time you need a baby bath will depend on personal preference and your baby’s development. Some babies will be too on-the-move for the regular bath at 8-months old. Other babies may try to escape the baby tub once they start rolling but before they can sit.

Plus, some baths are designed to work into toddler years. We personally still are using our “baby” bath tub with our 3-year old since it uses less water and offers him support (we have a Stokke bath that we love).

How often should you bathe your baby?

Good news — you don’t need to bath your baby every day. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends bathing your baby two to three times a week.

You may be surprised to learn it is actually not recommended to do daily baths. This is because it can dry your baby’s skin out and strip natural oils. Some newborns may also be sensitive to some soaps.

Even though you don’t bath them every day, you do want to make sure their diaper area stays clean and dry between baths to minimize diaper rash risk.

Do you need a baby bath tub?

Since you only need it for a limit time, do you really need a baby bath? No, you don’t. You can definitely do without a bath tub. There are easy alternatives and skipping a baby bath is one less baby thing to deal with.

However, for some people, a baby tub will add a lot of value to their lives. This is a baby item that really comes down to personal preference.

So here are pros and cons of baby tubs so you can figure out if they are right for you.

Pros of a baby bath

  • Easier and less terrifying bath time: Bath tubs may make bathing your kid easier since it supports their body before they have neck control. It also frees up a parents’ hand so they can wash them more easily.
  • Slippery newborns: Soap and water definitely makes for slippery babies. Baby baths support your baby’s body so it is less scary to hold them wet, especially when you’re a new parent and are convinced you’re going to break your baby.
  • Reasonable cost: Most baby tubs are very reasonably priced. And since they are a short-lived baby item, they are very easy to find secondhand (I see them given away for free on facebook all the time)
  • Longer lasting options available: There are a few types of baby baths that are better designed and will last you a lot longer than a traditional baby bath. We have a Stokke Flexi bath that we still use with our 3 year old and absolutely, totally love (head over to this link to read my full review of the Stokke baby bath)

Cons of a baby bath

  • Slippery newborns: Even with a baby bath tub, a soapy, wet baby is still slippery. Depending on the baby tub, they can still slide around and you still have to be vigilant about stabilizing them
  • Short life span: If you opt for a traditional baby bath or a sink insert bath, you’ll only use them for a short time before you baby can use the regular bath.
  • Storage: Most baby tubs are bulky and they are one more big baby thing you have to store in your house.
  • Not used daily: As explained above, you don’t need to wash your baby every day so you actually don’t need a baby bath tub that often.
  • Added cost: Skipping a baby tub can save you a little money. While baby baths are affordable, they still cost something and every little bit adds up.

Baby Bath Tub Alternatives

If you decide you want to skip the baby tub, there are a number of easy baby bath alternatives that you can use until your baby can sit in the regular bath tub.

1. Towel in the sink

You can fashion your own support for sink baths for your newborn simply by putting a towel down in the sink. This is a very easy bath alternative using something you already have around the house.

We’ve personally used this bath alternative when we’ve traveled with our babies. The only downside is that you have the wash a soaking wet towel after so it adds to your laundry pile.

2. Holding your baby in the sink

If you don’t want to use a towel in the sink, you can also simply hold your baby. This works best with two people, or for quick rinse downs.

I’ve used this strategy a few times solo and it is great for when you just need a quick bath, like after a poop blowout. It is a little terrifying the first time to hold a slippery newborn but you get the hang of it fast.

3. Use a storage container or bucket

You can use a storage container or bucket in lieu of a baby tub. This is a good option if you don’t have a big enough sink or only have a shower.

A storage container serves the same purpose of offering a smaller space to wash your baby. And it has the added bonus of having use after your baby outgrows it.

Using a bucket may seem a little out there, but it allows you to easily dip your baby’s body fully underwater while holding them under the armpits. This often can be an easier way to hold them than trying to keep them balanced when laying down in the sink.

5 alternatives to a baby bath tub with picture of baby and rubber ducky

4. Sponge bath

You do not need to fully immerse your baby in water to bathe them. A simple sponge bath can be a great way to clean your baby.

If your baby hates baths, a sponge bath may actually be more relaxing than a water bath too.

Plus, sponge baths are actually the preferred method of bathing a baby until their umbilical stump heals. You are not supposed to submerge your baby fully in water until the stump falls off.

5. Bring your baby into the shower or tub with you

Lastly, bringing your baby into the shower or bath with you is my favorite alternative to buying a baby tub. Simply hold the baby while you do your regular bathing and wash them off too.

Taking a bath with your baby can be a relaxing ritual for both the baby and the parent.

Admittedly, showering with your baby can be a little terrifying at first but you get used to holding a wet baby quickly. This alternative works until they get big enough to have opinions and squirm too hard in your arms.

As a bonus, this strategy also kills two birds with one stone since everyone gets clean at once — a definite win in the early newborn days when showering can be tough!

Conclusion: is a baby bath tub worth it?

Overall, you do not have to buy a baby bath tub. It is a matter of personal preference whether a baby bath would add enough value to your life to make owning one worthwhile.

For many people, you’ll only use a baby bath for a few months and switch to the regular bath once your baby can sit independently. And since you don’t need to bath your baby every day, using an alternative to a baby bath for this short period of time is not a hard lift.

Not buying a baby tub obviously saves you a little money. More importantly, it saves you space. It is once less baby item in your house that you need to manage and store.

If you plan to bathe your baby as part of your daily routine, you’ll see more benefit from buying a baby bath. They can definitely make bathing a slippery baby easier and less scary. Plus, they are reasonably priced so they aren’t big investments if you do want to try a bath out.

Overall, if you decide you want a baby bath, I’d recommend picking one that can be used into toddlerhood and that is foldable like the Stokke one we have. You’ll get a lot more use out of them, and they’ll save you a lot of water when bathing your toddler.

Want to know what other baby items you don’t need? Check out:

About the Author

Elizabeth Jon is a Ph.D. researcher whose work focuses on pregnancy and education. At Shoestring Baby, she uses her skills to research baby name trends, in-depth baby gear reviews & money savings ideas for parents.

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