Bath tubs and products

A baby bathtub is a small, safe place to bathe your baby. We do not recommend a bath seat, bath ring, or blow-up (inflatable) tub that fits inside a regular tub because they can flip or tip over and the child could drown.

Shopping tips

  • Buy a bathtub with contoured sides or a sling to cradle your baby. The contoured sides keep your baby from sliding around in the tub. The sling prevents her from slipping underwater.
  • We do not recommend a bathtub with a temperature indicator. They are not necessary. Your hand or elbow is the best way to test the water temperature.
  • Do not bother with a fresh-water rinse unit. It costs extra, takes up room, and may not work that well.
  • Buy a soft towel and washcloth. A towel with a hood is best because it cradles the baby’s head.
  • Choose a baby body wash that is also a shampoo.

Safety tips

  • Give your baby sponge baths until the stump of his umbilical cord falls off. Then bathe him in a baby bathtub two to three times a week. More often can dry out his skin.
  • Always hold your baby while she is in the bathtub. A baby can drown in very little water.
  • Test the water temperature before you put your baby in the tub or rinse him. Use your elbow, the inside of your wrist, or the back of your hand.
  • Rinse your baby using a plastic cup or a sprayer attached to the sink. Test the water temperature first.
  • Clean and dry the bathtub each time you use it. This keeps mildew and soap scum from building up on the tub.
  • When your baby can sit up, he can be bathed in a regular bathtub with a small amount of water.
    For more information, visit Babies & Kids on the Consumers Report Web site.

June 2008

Copyright 2008, Consumers Union of United States, Inc. All rights reserved. No redistribution allowed.

Most common questions

What is the safest crib for my baby?

A full-size crib is best for your baby. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is reviewing safety standards on cribs and urging parents to avoid drop-side cribs (cribs with sides that move up and down). Many of these kinds of cribs have been recalled. It's best to have a crib with sides that don't move. Other things to keep in mind:

  • Crib mattresses should be firm and tight-fitting. Otherwise, a baby may get trapped in the space between the mattress and the crib.
  • You shouldn't be able to put more than two fingers between the mattress and the crib frame.
  • Sheets should fit snugly.
  • Don’t use bumper guards on cribs because they pose a suffocation risk. Newborns and small infants aren't able to pull themselves free if they become stuck between the bumper pad and the side of the crib.
  • If you have a used crib, check the CPCS website to see if it's been recalled.
  • Make sure corner posts are less than 1/16 inch. Otherwise, clothing could get caught and your baby might strangle.
  • There shouldn't be more than 2 3/8 inches between crib slats so a baby's body cannot fit through.

What kind of car seat is safest for my baby?

If possible, buy a new car seat. That way, you're sure that it's never been in a car crash. If you're using a used car seat, be certain it is not more than 6 years old, has never been in a crash and hasn't been recalled (check the Consumer Product Safety Commission for recalls).

Look for a model with a five-point harness (two shoulder straps, two leg straps and one crotch strap). It's the safest for baby. You can choose an infant-only seat, which is always used rear-facing. You can also choose a convertible seat. These start out rear-facing but can change to a front-facing seat when your baby gets bigger. Other tips:

  • Recline a rear-facing car safety seat at about 45 degrees or as directed by the instructions that came with the seat.
  • Get a free inspection to make sure the seat is installed right.
  • If you have a baby who is premature or has a low birthweight, look for a car safety seat with the shortest distance between the crotch strap and the seat back. Ideally, pick one with a crotch-to-seat back distance of 5 1/2 inches.
  • Pay close attention to the lower weight limit of the car seat. The typical car seat is only suited for newborns that weigh more than 5 pounds. Look for infant seats that can accommodate a baby who weighs 4 pounds or less. Some manufactures sell inserts to attach to a regular infant car seat for preemies or low-birthweight babies.

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