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Baby Bath

Giving the first bath frightens even the most confident new parent! A tiny wiggly baby and a tub full of water seem like an unlikely combination, but they can provide some of the most pleasant and memorable experiences! Bath time can be fun for the entire family with the features included in baby baths today!

Determining which type of baby bath is best for you requires listening and asking the appropriate questions. Do you plan to bathe your baby in the kitchen sink, on a countertop, or in an adult bath. How much space do you have for bathing? Is storage space for the bath an issue? Will there be a dedicated space to bathe the baby. Do you prefer certain coordinated colors? For how many months do you intend to use the baby bath (for 6 months, 12 months, 24 months)? Does you have back or knee problems that would prohibit you from bathing the child in certain positions? Once you understand the baby bathing requirements, you can make the best choice.

Baby baths can be used from 0-24 months of age. The size of the baby bath will determine the useful age range of the bath as well as where it can be used.

Infant Baths
Infant baths are small and designed to be used in a kitchen sink, limiting the useful life of the bath to about 4-8 months, depending upon the size of the baby. These smaller infant baths can be plastic seats, plastic baths, foam cushions, cloth covered plastic resin filled cushions, a mesh "sling", or a mesh cloth stretched over a wire frame. Some can be used in conjunction with other baby bath designs as well as the adult bath tub. The advantages of the infant bath are that they are small, lightweight and well suited to the size of an infant (0-6 months of age). Some are designed to follow the contours of the infant, giving added support and preventing the baby from sliding under the water. The plastic models all have suction cups to hold the bath in place. A bath given in the sink is easier on the back of the caregiver who doesn't have to bend over as much. It is easy to travel with the infant bath and find storage for it. The real disadvantage of the infant bath is that it can be used for a very limited time because of its size. The foam pads and mesh and cloth covered cushions also tend to attract mildew and germs, making them difficult to clean.

Toddler Baths
Toddler-size baby baths are larger and are designed for use by older babies up to the age of about 24 months inside an adult bathtub, on a countertop, or on the floor. Most of the toddler baths are made of polypropylene plastic, which is non-toxic, relatively lightweight, strong, and easy to clean with soap and water. Some are made of inflatable vinyl, similar to inflatable pool rafts, which are easy to store and travel with. Many designer colors and patterns are available.

Several enhanced features available on the toddler baths include safety posts between the legs to prevent the toddler from sliding under the water, a spray nozzle to help rinse the child's body and hair, drain plugs that change color when the water temperature is not safe, mobiles and built-in toys to entertain the child, head/neck supports, built-in soap dishes and deep built-in compartments for shampoo and plastic containers. While some also have built-in pads, it may be difficult to keep the pads germ free and mildew free.

Bath Stands
Metal stands are available for several of the toddler baths, but the stand must be designed exactly to the specific baby bath measurements in order to be safe! Make sure that the stand also has "non-skid" bumpers on the legs. To prevent the bath from tipping over when using a stand, most stands should not be used for children over the age of 12 months, for toddlers that are very active in the bath, and/or for children over 20 pounds. Metal stands help prevent back strain on the bath giver. Always follow the manufacturer's recommended guidelines when using a bath stand.

Transitional Baby Baths
The newest baby baths today transition from an infant bath to a toddler bath providing a longer useful life of the bath. Some have removable infant bath attachments while others have a built-in infant bath. Some also have built-in safety posts or rings to increase the safety of the toddler. The advantage is a longer useful life and the cost effectiveness of the bath. The only disadvantage may be size in terms of storage.

Some small baby baths are incorporated into a changing table or "bathinette", which is typical of the European influence. While a bathinette offers extra storage space and easy accessibility for bathing items and clothing, it does require a larger dedicated space for bathing. It must also be located near water faucets and drains.The bathinettes are the most expensive choice.

Baby baths range in price from under $5.00 for a very simple "no frills" bath to more than $100.00 for a bathinette that is incorporated into a changing table. Most baby baths retail for $15-25.00.

Remember safe-baby bathing techniques! Never leave a child unattended for even a moment while near or in water! A child can drown in even two inches of water! Get everything needed for the bath together and within arm's reach before preparing the bath water, to check the water temperature to make sure it is not too hot or cold, and to have fun bathing baby!

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