Once you get past the terror of dropping your slippery newborn, baby bathtimes are a true joy. Babies love splashing and kicking in warm water, and they smell and look so sweet burrito’d up in a blanky afterward.
Though many toddlers and preschoolers start objecting to hair-washing early — we have something that can help with that! — they too love a nightly bath. Soaking in warm water, hair in a wet faux-hawk, and playing with a floaty boat or rubber ducky are all terrific wind-down routines for little ones made cranky by a long day.
But bathtime’s not quite perfect as is. Small children are apt to hit their heads on uncushioned faucets, drip water on the floor, slip and fall. And even if they don’t, they get bored in an empty tub and want something (safe!) to play with.
We quizzed moms with hundreds of baths under their belts to uncover the toys and safety devices that work. They don’t get moldy, they’re easy to clean, they last a long time, and they don’t make your life harder.
1. Kids like stuff that spins. Boon Cogs do just that, suctioning individually to the side of your tub, to be turned by curious hands or operated by poured water. Lined up right — you might have to help with that — they spin against each other. (Boon, $11.99)
2. There are lots of bath spout covers on the market that look cute, but either don’t work or don’t last — they grow mold, they fall apart, they don’t fit on your faucet correctly. Year in and year out, parents name the Skip Hop Moby Safety Bath Spout Cover as a favorite, because it slips easily onto almost any faucet, and, just as importantly, comes off easily when somebody wants to take a shower instead of a soak. It even hangs from a hook or bathroom rack by its tail. (Target, $12.99)
3. If you have kids old enough to start taking showers, a non-slip mat is a natural. And the Munchkin Dandy Dots Bath Mat is a favorite amongst our mom friends, with a grippy underside and darling dots atop that look just like a strip of candy buttons. Warning: It doesn’t stick well to textured tubs. But if you have a smoothie, you’ll adore it. (Amazon, $9.38)
4. The Yookidoo Flow n Fill Spout sticks — solidly — to the side of the bathtub, sucks up water, and spits it out in a diverting stream that kids can use to power a spinning paddlewheel, or collect in the soft cups. I love this toy so much that I wrote an entire post about it, with a video of the spout in operation that I watch sometimes for its mesmerizing qualities. (Toysrus.com, $19.99)
5. Where oh where to store all the toys that stack up between baths? If you’d like them to look neat and sleek, close ’em up in Boon Frog Pod, which sticks to the side of your shower with adhesive tape and holds everything you throw at it. It really stays put on the wall there, and the frog has lots of drainage holes that helps everything keep fresh. (Amazon, $19.21)
6. Who can resist a monkey in a submarine? As is written by our forefathers, verily will a monkey in a submarine convince even a stubborn toddler to bathe. Try the Skip Hop Pull & Go Submarine for excellent movement action and a cute monkey face. (Skiphop, $8)
7. Kids love lining toys up on the side of the tub, but it makes a godawful mess. The Shelfie Bathtub Tray suctions to the side of the tub and contains both toys and water. Kids can keep their toys and bath gear organized, without spillover. (Onestepahead, $19.95)
8. Scrambling in or out of the tub can be a head-bonking proposition, since everything’s wet and slippery. Give your children a hand with the Safe-Er-Grip Bathtub and Shower Assist Bar, which securely sticks to the side of your bathtub or shower to give bathers a more secure hand-hold than your towel rack. (Walmart, $8.42)
9. The Munchkin White Hot Safety Bath Ducky is one toy that does double-duty: On the duck’s bottom is a special heat-sensitive disk that reads “HOT” when your baby’s water is too warm for safety. But even once you get past the hot-water worry stage the White Hot Ducky is great, because unlike the vast majority of bath toys, it has no holes to let water in and mold grow. Ever wonder what that “gunk” is coming out of your toys as you squeeze them out in the bath? It’s mold. And it’s gross. (Amazon, $3.49)
10. Kneeling by the big tub to bathe your baby is a real pain in the neck. And back. And most of all, knees. But the Aquatopia Deluxe Safety Easy Bath Kneeler cushions your poor tired old knees, supporting your lower body comfortably as you get the job done. The Kneeler has pockets, too, to keep toys, shampoo, a scrubbie, or anything else you need close at hand. (Amazon, $19.48)
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