Like many mums, there are few things we love more than sinking into a warm bubble bath once the wee one has fallen asleep for the night (or at least for now). The calming effects of a bubble bath are one not easily matched, but, is it the same for baby?
January is Baby Bath Safety Month, with National Bubble Bath Day falling on January 8th as well. We’ve discussed Baby Bath Safety tips as well as the Best Products for Bath Safety already but have yet to touch on exactly when and if bubble baths are safe for your baby.
What the experts say
Many doctors and child experts caution against giving babies bubble baths until they are at least 3 years old. This is due to the higher chance of UTI’s (urinary tract infection) occurring due to the soapy residue not being rinsed properly from their private parts. Also, because young babies should not be in the water for much more than 10 minutes to prevent irritation and dry skin, bubble baths have the potential to cause them to extend for longer contributing to later discomfort. Because babies cannot speak for themselves until they are older, you may not realise initially if problems persist. This is the main reason why doctors recommend you wait.
In the case of UTI’s, it’s important to monitor your child’s urinary habits. If they realise that it might hurt when they urinate, they may hold it in or experience high levels of pain when they do finally go.
How to tell if your baby has a UTI
Because babies cannot tell you if they are uncomfortable aside from crying, sometimes a UTI can go unnoticed at first. Sometimes, an unexplained fever can be the only symptom which is why they can go on undetected so often.
If you do decide to give your baby a bubble bath and notice any of the following symptoms, with or without a fever, it’s a good idea to get them checked for a possible UTI.
- Crying or another indication that urination is painful
- Odd-smelling urine
- Cloudy or bloody urine
- Unexplained, persistent irritability
- Refusal to eat
Bubble Bath Safety
Many parents choose to take the precautions into account and let their children have bubble baths earlier than 3 years of age. Some babies really love being in water and the bubbles allow for more stimulation and excitement for this part of their routine. Babies do not necessarily require daily baths, and it is generally recommended to only have an immersive water bath 2-3 times a week. On the off days, it is advised to “top tail” your child – a practice that involves a bowl of warm water, a flannel or cloth as well as cotton wool, to wash their face, neck, hands and bottom. The NHS offer a great step by step to top tailing (including a video) on how to do this.
Ensure the safety and wellbeing of your baby when bubble bathing by remembering the following:
- Use natural cleansing products and bubble bath products which are free from perfumes, colours and alcohols. Simply using warm water can also be sufficient for certain areas.
- Ensuring baby’s private areas are rinsed thoroughly of soapy residue before toweling dry.
- Not bathing for longer than 10 minutes (especially for children who are unable to support themselves)
- Use a hypoallergenic moisturiser only if it is recommended by your doctor (if your child is experiencing dry skin/eczema). Too many products can be irritating to their soft sensitive skin, so less can be better at times.
- You only need to bathe your child, particularly newborns, 2-3 times a week. Anything more can attribute to skin conditions such as eczema. Top tailing is an easy and more suitable way to bathe your child on those days in between. As newborns don’t sweat or move around and get dirty like toddlers, they do not require consistent bathing.
Like most parenting choices, what is “right” tends to be determined on a case by case basis. You know your child better than anyone and you will know if a bubble bath might be right for them, or if you feel comfortable doing so. While your doctor may recommend you hold off until they are at least 3 years only, if all precautions are taken into consideration, there should be no reason that you can not introduce them into your routine earlier.
Please keep in mind it is your child’s reaction that you should use to determine whether or not it is a practice to continue, as not all babies enjoy baths, especially at the beginning. By gauging their reaction, and ensuring you are taking all steps necessary to prevent infections and irritations, you will find whether it is right for them.