tortoon/Fotolia

8 Baby-Bathing Hacks, Because Cleaning Your Kid Is Hard

Ad failed to load

Bath time is a key ingredient in many a parent's bedtime routine, but I'll be honest — bathing a baby is trickier than it seems. For newborns, there's the sheer panic of placing them in a very real (albeit small) body of water. With older babies, there's a thrash-and-squirm factor that makes bath time messy, to say the least. And toddlers, well — they're toddlers. Sometimes they don't want to take a bath. Other times, they don't want to get out. What gives, and what kind of baby-bathing hacks can make the whole process easier?

From making sure the water is the right temperature to choosing non-irritating soaps and lotions, attacking baby-bathing with a strong strategy in place will help you out immensely. Gathering supplies in advance is one easy hack — it's just easier, not to mention safer, to have the soap, bubbles, lotion, and towel laid out and ready to go. But wait, there's more.

Newborn Care Specialist Ruby Sibal of Beyond Baby Care believes bath time should be quality bonding time, for baby and the parents, and walks you step-by-step through newborn facials and shampoos. Romper collected these eight baby-bathing hacks, including a few tips for toddlers, because bath time should be as smooth and easy as that yellow rubber ducky. Wait, where's that rubber ducky? You know you can't have bath time without him!

Ad failed to load

1Gather Your Supplies

Giphy

When it comes to baby bathing, your first step is to gather your products. Newborn Care Specialist Ruby Sibal loves Mustela Foam Shampoo ($13, Target), Mustela Gentle Cleansing Gel ($17, Target), and Mustela Bath Oil ($11, Target) for their gentleness, and prefers a pump to other dispensing methods for ease of use. She also recommends the Baby Buddy Bath Sponges and Loofahs ($10, Target) to collect water, and for newborns, the Skip Hop Moby Warm-up Bath Cozy ($8, Target) to keep baby from getting chilly in a sling tub.

You'll also want water in Tupperware containers to wet and rinse the sponges, a fluffy warm towel for wrapping baby, your sling tub, cotton balls for her face, a thick terry washcloth for washing her hair, and a cradle cap brush or hair brush. (Extra washcloths don't hurt either.) Don't forget a toy for baby to hold onto.

2Newborn Bath Tips

Giphy

Until the umbilical cord falls off, babies can't have a full bath. However, you can wash their hair and face and perform a soothing sponge bath. Sibal describes her steps for baby's facial and shampoo, which can also be performed before bath time, to keep an older baby from getting too cold in the tub.

"First I undress baby, leaving only the diaper," Sibal tells Romper. "Then wrap the baby in a bath towel, snug, like a swaddle." This makes her easy to keep in football hold. Next, Sibal wets a cotton ball — squeezing out excess water so it's just damp — and wipes baby's face from forehead to neck, including the backs of the ears. Use a separate cotton ball for each eye to prevent any infection from spreading, and wipe from the inner to the outer corner.

Next, a spa-quality shampoo:

"Wet hair by dipping a sponge in room temperature water — cooler than water for a bath or tub," she explains. "Then pump newborn shampoo into your hands and lather with circular massaging motions on baby's head and scalp." For cradle cap, take your brush and smooth the hair in one direction. Rinse the hair with the same sponge (squeeze out any bubbles before dipping it into water), then dry baby's hair with the terry washcloth.

3Check That Temperature

Giphy

Like Goldilocks, your baby wants water that's not too hot or too cold. Around five minutes before giving baby a full bath, Sibal fills the tub with warm water — between 96 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit — making it a bit hotter if she knows baby won't make it into the bath for a bit.

To check that the water's just right, she dips her elbow into the tub. Sibal also recommends stirring the water up a bit, so it's a consistent temperature throughout.

"Before I put baby into the water, I tell her what I'm doing," says Sibal, "and dip her feet in two-to-three times so they can feel the water first."

For newborns, place your arm beneath their chest and let them sit on the tub seat a moment. Wetting their back first will give them another chance to get used to the water, and make bath time in the early weeks an easier experience for everyone.

Ad failed to load

4Make It Quality Time

Giphy

Parents are understandably exhausted at the end of the day, but you can start looking forward to bath time by making it quality time. Sibal gives babies an infant massage with organic sunflower oil before bathing them, and a short "bonus" massage with hydrating oil after. You can sing to your baby during bath time, narrate her wash, or tell her all about your day.

A bath routine also signals to your baby that it's getting close to bedtime.

5Toddler Bath Hacks

Giphy

When baby outgrows her sling bath, the tub still looks like a vast ocean. Lifehacker suggested bathing baby in a laundry basket to keep her (and her toys) contained in the tub.

I used this hack last night, and it totally works. Just be careful if your baby is trying to pull herself up — you don't want her to slip and fall. Use a non-slip mat and don't take your hands off her.

Toddler safety tip: drain the bath immediately after you're finished — making this a habit reduces the likelihood that you'll accidentally leave any standing water around for your little one to find later, according to Kidspot.

6Bath Hacks For When Your Toddler's A Grump

Giphy

If your toddler's not feeling bath time (it happens), or is acting dangerously squirmy, it's OK to fall back on the sponge bath technique. Key areas to hit include pretty much every fold — red rashes in skin folds develop quickly when baby isn't bathed enough — and the area under the chin, where food and milk collect (gross, I know, but this is why you're sponging them to begin with).

Your toddler might even settle down during sponge time, and let her give you a real bath. No guarantees, though.

Ad failed to load

7Try A Baby Shower Visor

Giphy

Water getting in your older baby or toddler's eyes? Try a baby shower visor ($7, Amazon). It's exactly what it sounds like.

8Bath-Toy Hacks

Giphy

Toys are a real slip-and-fall hazard in my bathroom, at least. One Crazy House shared 15 ways to solve this storage problem, from hanging up wire fruit baskets to hanging up mesh laundry bags.

Wondering how to wash those bath toys super well (babies put them in their mouths after all)? Try loading the dishwasher with plastic toys and using a cup and a half of vinegar in place of detergent — it's cheaper and non-toxic. Read the full instructions at Eat Craft Parent.

Also, what's with the holes in the bottoms of bath toys? If your baby, like mine, is constantly drinking her bath water, consider Baby Gaga's advice: glue the hole in rubber ducky's bottom to keep it from becoming a super unhygienic water bottle.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

8 Things That *Will* Go Wrong Every Time You Plan A Kid-Free Night

The last time my husband and I went out to dinner alone was… actually, I can’t remember. But I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen a movie in a theater in the last year. Before we had children we used to go out all the time. But even with …
By Liza Wyles

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack