How to Choose a Baby Bath Tub: Tips for Finding the Best Baby Bathtub, Including 7 Non Toxic Baby Bath Tubs to Consider
Bathing a newborn is intimidating, even for experienced parents.
While you may stress about baby’s first bath (and – let’s be honest – subsequent baths for a few months at least), you shouldn’t stress about the gear you use.
Unfortunately, not all baby bath tubs are equal.
Some are easier (or harder) to use.
Or use super safe, food quality non toxic materials (vs. questionable materials) .
Some even have built-in added safety features to keep your little one safe and secure.
If you’re looking for help finding the best baby bathtubs for your home (and maybe Grandma’s house), keep reading for the details you need to know.
The Best Baby Bathtub is Safe, Non-Toxic, Easy to Use, and Helps you Feel Confident at Bathtime
Bath time is a time for relaxation, fun, and one-on-one time with parents or a caregiver.
At the end of the day, the best baby bathtubs facilitate the experience, not take away from the fun!
If you’re just starting to look for a bathtub for your new baby or toddler, here’s what I consider to be important in narrowing it down.
Further along in the article, I’ve shared some bath tubs we’ve tested, ones that friends use, ones that look excellent based on research, as well as some I don’t love (and why).
What to Look for in a Baby Bath Tub
Types of Baby Baths
These are padded, often soft and flexible inserts that you use in your bathroom or kitchen sink. Sink inserts work great with infants, from the newborn stage until somewhere between 4 and 6 months, when babies get too big and heavy for an insert.
As a parent, one of the big pros of using an insert is you don’t have to kneel over to bathe your baby. You can simply stand, and do it fairly comfortably at counter height. This is especially helpful for C-section parents, or those with mobility challenges, such as back problems.
The main downside of using an insert is the fact that babies outgrow them fairly quickly. Once they age out, you’ll have to find another solution. Plus, you have to make sure your sink is clean, especially if you’ve done any recent food prep.
This is a classic “baby bath” – it looks like a mini version of an adult tub, or similar, and you can use it either within your adult tub, or on a floor.
A pro of these is you only need one: by the time your little one outgrows this style, they’ll likely be ready for the main bathtub in your home.
On the other hand, they can feel quite large for newborns, and intimidating for new parents to use on infants. Plus, you’ll likely need to kneel beside it, which can be uncomfortable or impossible for some parents.
We initially used a sling with our newborn daughter, and it was … not very easy.
A sling like the SkipHop Moby is more or less like a little mesh removable hammock that hooks onto your main basin tub, and keeps the baby from getting submerged in the water. We found it finicky, and hard to keep our daughter warm.
If I had to do it again, I’d get a sink insert until my baby could sit up with a bit of support, or use something like the Primo Eurobath or the Angelcare Baby Bath Support, which are well designed for newborn support, and help them feel a bit more secure.
Bucket or Tub Style
There are a few products on the market that resemble buckets, and are narrower and taller than a basin style.
I recommend being careful about this style, and must add the caveat I haven’t tried this style myself.
Some, such as the BEABA by Shnuggle or the Munchkin Sit and Soak, have your baby slightly reclined, and are a cross between a bucket and a tub. Others, such as the Prince Lionheart WashPOD, are fairly vertical.
We don’t recommend buying the vertical style wash tub, in which the baby sits straight up in the water. For one, these tubs make it pretty hard to wash you baby’s baby bottom. From a hygiene perspective, that’s not great news, especially after a diaper blowout or when dealing with diaper rash (which may necessitate an oatmeal bath).
However, it also seems like a serious drowning risk. According to Consumer Reports:
We … have concerns that it could tip over much too easily, especially when placed on the pedestal. More concerning, it’s not covered by U.S. safety standards that apply to baby bath seats and tubs. Finally, like any household pail, this one can pose a hazard to toddlers if left unattended with even a small amount of water in it. Because they are top heavy, little tykes can topple head first into a bucket and drown, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission often cautions.”
Bath Seat or Ring
Based on my research, I recommend against using bath seats or rings, and experts agree.
Health Canada recommends against bath seats, stating they’ve been linked to injuries and drownings. Likewise, the American Association of Pediatrics argues use of a bath seat or ring may increase the risk of drowning.
While as a parent, it may seem as though seats could make bathtime easier, it really isn’t worth the risk.
There are other products that make bathing babies (an in particular a newborn) easier, too, with less risk than a seat.
With any style bath, you need to take bathroom safety seriously. Whether bathing a newborn or a sitting baby, you need to offer your 100% attention and supervision.
Opt for a Baby Bathtub That’s Non Toxic, Please
While I don’t pretend I can control everything when it comes to the dangers of everyday life, one thing I can control is the products we bring into our house. And generally speaking, I try to buy products that are non-toxic and a bit eco friendlier.
A Note About BPA & Alternatives (BPS, BPF, BPAF, BPZ, BPP, BHPF, …)
Since BPA-free has become de rigueur, many companies have switched to BPA alternatives. Unfortunately, these alternatives may not be any better for our health.
They all have “BP” in their names because they share the same basic chemical structure of a bisphenol. Each new version has only slight differences, as if swapping a blue Lego block for a red one. (source)
Your best bet is to avoid these chemicals as well. Since most companies don’t yet disclose whether they use BPA alternatives, consumers have to figure it out for themselves.
Geneticist Patricia Hunt of the University of Washington has studied these chemicals, and has this advice for consumers:
If you’re concerned about a plastic baby bathtub, ask the company if the bathtub has a recycling number, and what number it is. If it’s a number of concern (eg 3, 6, and 7) find another bathtub for your baby!
Don’t Use an Inflatable Tub, as They Might Contain PVC & Phthalates
Some phthalates come along with a range of health concerns, and young babies may be uniquely vulnerable.
Anything made from PVC (aka vinyl, recycling #3) likely has phthalates in it. Pretty much every inflatable baby bath tub we’ve seen is made from PVC – these are best avoided! (I also have concerns about whether an inflatable bath offers enough support for baby, but that’s a different conversation).
Phthalates are also in other plastics, and can be found in soft plastic baby toys (including bath toys), baby shampoos, conditioners, detanglers, and lotions, diapers, diaper changing pads, and waterproof covers for crib mattresses.
Buy On-Brand to Ensure it’s Lead Free
Lead can be found in some children’s products made of vinyl and plastic. And because young children are quite vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure – including brain and kidney damage – it’s worth double checking that your baby’s tub is lead free.
First, the good news. Because of regulations, you’re unlikely to find lead in major brand baby products.
Now here’s the bad news. Your kids can also get lead exposure from your “normal” adult bathtub. Because the effects of lead exposure can be quite devastating, this is another great reason to use a safe and non-toxic baby bathtub during the first few years of your kids’ lives.
Finally, avoid any “bathtub” that isn’t specifically intended to be used as one (i.e a laundry wash bin). These aren’t subject to the same “intended for a baby” safety regulations that proper baby bathtubs are – best avoided!
Double Check Textiles Are Formaldehyde Free
Formaldehyde is sometimes used in antibacterial items, and is found in some textiles. If you’re purchasing a newborn bathtub with a sling, in particular, it’s worth confirming the sling is formaldehyde free.
Make Sure Your Baby Bathtub is Also Flame Retardant Free
Flame retardant chemicals are added to some plastics, and are associated with a number of health concerns. Double check any baby bath tub you’re considering hasn’t had flame retardant chemicals added to it.
Don’t Use a Baby Bath Tub That’s Meant for the Countertop or Isn’t Super Sturdy
Without exception, placing a baby bathtub on the countertop is a bad idea.
It’s not difficult to imagine the bathtub falling off the counter, or imagine older babies squirming or trying to stand up, and falling.
Similarly, a baby bathtub with a detachable base, which puts your baby at a bit of a height, seems like a bad idea to us.
It’s not hard to see how an accident could happen.
Don’t Use a Bath Manufactured Before October 2, 2017
In the United States, the Consumer Product Safety Commission updated infant and baby bath tub safety standards in October 2017. While it’s now illegal to sell baby bath tubs manufactured before that date, if you get a used bath, you may not know when it was manufactured.
My Picks for the Best Baby Bathtubs
I considered considered 17 popular baby bath tubs, bath seats, removable slings, for this list, but most fell short in one way or another, especially when compared to the tubs I think are great.
The following bathtubs came out on top!
The Stokke Flexi Bath is a safe, non-toxic plastic baby bath, and one of my top choices.
Generally, I like Stokke products for a few reasons:
- They’re made in Denmark, and need to meet strict EU safety standards. In my research, I’ve often found EU standards to be stricter than in the US.
- They’re made from safe, non-toxic materials, such as food safe plastics. The Flexi baby bath is made from Polypropylene (#5 for recycling codes) and thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), and is free from harmful chemicals, including heavy metals, phthalates, formaldehyde, and BPA.
- They’re made to last, rather than be disposable. That means, if you buy something from Stokke (such as their baby bathtubs), it’s well made enough that it should last through all your kids, and then you’ll be able to pass it on to a friend or sibling to use on their kids, too. This is much better for the environment than buying something disposable, which is why I think this is a solid choice for an eco friendly baby bathtub.
Stokke claims their tubs are made for kids up to 6 years old for the XL, and 4 years old for the regular. However, I think it’s more realistic kids will outgrow the regular around 2 years old, and the XL around 3 or 4. At that point, bath time gets a lot more active with playing, washing hair and struggling with tangles, and generally having a lot of fun!
Both the regular and the XL are foldable and lightweight, meaning it packs away easily and is easy to lift and use.
It also has a built in drain, meaning you can drain the water after bath time without a lot of fumbling.
The plug actually doubles as a temperature check, giving you a quick visual guide to whether your bath water is warm, cool, or hot (with warm being the goal). You still need to double check by sticking your hand in the water to test, but it takes a bit of the guesswork out of it, and means you don’t also need a submersible thermometer. There’s so much to think about when giving baby a bath – the color changing drain plug means you have one less thing to worry about.
For newborns and very young babies, you can buy an optional insert to keep them in an easy to wash position.
The PRIMO Eurobath is a safe, non-toxic baby bath suitable for ages zero through 24 months.
My biggest fear when we started bathing our daughter was that she’d slip under the water, and if I had to guess, I’d guess I’m probably not alone in that.
The EuroBath was designed with this common safety fear in mind. It has 2 positions (infant and toddler), and both have safety features to keep your baby or toddler safely above the water.
For a newborn, use the gently reclined position, which offers suitable support for baby and has side wall and a non slip pommel (like on a saddle) that goes between their legs. Once baby can sit, move them to the opposite end of the tub, which is more like a bath seat, and also has a pommel to help keep them upright.
One thing worth considering about this bath tub is that it’s big (mine measures just under 37″ long). If you live in a small space, this probably isn’t the right choice.
But if you have the space, it gives baby lots of room to splash and play. And you can use it from day 1 (in the 0-6 months reclining support position) all the way through to early toddlerhood, around 2 years old (in the sitting up position). Since this tub doesn’t have any flat spots on the bottom, you’ll need to stop using it as soon as your toddler starts trying to make bath time adventure, and tries to stand and jump in the tub.
In terms of materials and manufacturing, this tub is made in the USA from 100% polypropylene, which also means it’s recyclable with #5 plastics. It’s also BPA free, lead free, and phthalate free.
The puj tub is a soft, foldable sink baby bath tub suitable for newborns through 6 months.
Puj actually started as a bathtub company, when founders Ben and Katie were giving their second-born a bath. If you’ve ever struggled giving an infant a bath, you’ve probably come to a similar conclusion that Ben and Katie did: there had to be a better way.
As designers, they set out to come up with a better solution: a flat, formamide-free EVA foam “baby bathtub” that fits into and conforms to any sink. When it’s not in use, it hangs or lays flat, which is great if you live in a small space, have limited storage, or don’t want a hideous baby bathtub taking up a massive amount of space.
The puj tub is BPA, PVC, phthlate, latex, flame retardent, and lead free. Designed in Washington State, made in Taiwan.
Overall, I think this is a good “small space” solution, and one of the top baby baths for sinks. It’s also a good choice if you have a scheduled c-section, or think you might end up with one, as bathing your little one in the sink will be easier. Opting for a kitchen sink bath in those first few months means there’s no need to kneel over the bathtub, which can be hard on your back and knees and offers less control over your baby.
If you need a more portable solution, the puj flyte is the company’s travel tub, and meets the same safety standards as their other products. It’s foldable, making it another good small space solution to tuck away.
The Shnuggle Tub or BEABA by Shnuggle offers a cross between baby bath buckets (which I don’t think are a great idea) and a traditional baby bath. It’s a compact, baby tub for sink basin or floor, and is suitable from 0 to 12 months.
Using the Shnuggle, your baby comfortably reclines against the foam back rest. The “baby bump” built into the floor of the tub is helpful keeping baby in position, and works like the pommel on the Primo Eurobath.
The Shnuggle is a great “small space” tub since it’s so compact. It’s great for sinks, or a bathing on the floor (lay some towels underneath for splashes).
Comparing the tubs that work great for a sink bath (puj tub vs Shnuggle), we like that the Shnuggle will keep little one warm while they bathe, while also using less water than a conventional bath (making it eco friendly in terms of water usage). However, it’s also a bulkier to store, and harder to keep dry in between uses, since there’s no drain at the bottom of the basin.
Made of non-toxic polypropylene (PP), and made to be BPA, PVC, lead and phthalate free. Made in China.
Of the two most popular reclining bucket-style tubs, I would personally opt for the Shnuggle vs. Munchkin Sit & Soak. The Munchkin also looks great from a practicality stand point, and I love that it has a drain, but based on my research at the time of writing, the company doesn’t test for BPA on this product, which is why it’s a pass for me!
This bath support works like an insert, by keeping your baby supported and above water, without the finicky aspects of a removable insert. The frame is rigid for stability, and the actual support is made from a soft and flexible rubber mesh, for comfort.
It’s made in Canada from Polypropylene (PP) and Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE), and is free from Latex, Benzyl Butyl Phthalate (BBP), Bisphenol A (BPA), Diethylhexyl Phthalate (DEHP), and Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP).
This tub alternative is meant to be used in your main tub, and also works in large single basin sinks, such as a farmhouse sink that’s at least 23 x 14″.
Great design to prevent mold in bath gear, as the water drains easily through the holes, and there’s a hole at the top to hang to dry from a hook.
I first wrote this article back in 2019, and came back to update it when I realized some of the products I’d suggested are no longer available, and there are some new, great options on the market.
My first pass at this article was research based, involving 20+ hours of research, considering 19 baby bath tubs, and consulting 60 different sources.
Baby Bath Tubs Considered in my Original Article & This Update: Stokke Flexi Bath, puj tub, puj flyte, Primo EuroBath, Shnuggle, Munchkin Sit & Soak, Original Tummy Tub (no longer available), Prince Lionheart WashPOD, Skip Hop Moby 3-in-1, Angelcare Bath Support, Blooming Baby Bath, First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe, FisherPrice Rinse and Grow, Boon Naked Collapsible, Summer Infant Newborn to Toddler Bath Center and Shower, Leachco Safer Bather, Summer Infant Comfort Height, Safety 1st Custom Care Modular Bath, Munchkin Clean Cradle Tub
What’s different in this update?
Now, I have more experience as a mom, a lot more experience giving baths, and I have some personal experience with some of these products that I can share (as well as some personal experience from friends).
What are some of the factors I considered for this update?
- Made in the USA, Canada, Europe or Taiwan vs made in China
- Transparent information about materials, using non-toxic materials I’d use with my own baby
- Easy to clean and dry to prevent mold growth, such as ability to hang from a hook to air dry
- Wide or clear age range, suitable for newborns and toddlers up to 2 years old and beyond, with clear age and weight range in pounds to make the right choice
- Doesn’t require an insert for the youngest babies
- Easy for parents to use comfortably
- Easy to store, especially for people like us who live in a small space
- Better than an alternative, related product available, based on personal experience and/or research, and the criteria above
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you Need a Baby Bath?
For the minimalists among us, it’s tempting to wonder whether getting a baby tub is overkill, and whether you really need one. Fair question!
I’d say for a newborn, you really do need at least something. A sink insert style or reclining bucket style (i.e. the puj tub/flyte, Angelcare Support, or Shnuggle) are the most obvious choice, allowing you to do sink baths for the first 6 months.
Once your little one has aged out of the sink or bucket bath system, you can give them a bath in your main tub, but you probably need to get in there with them, and sit behind to support until they’re 9 months or older, and able to sit on their own safely in a tub. You’ll also need to make sure the main tub is safe, using a non-slip mat on the bottom and a spout cover to prevent head bumps.
Personally, I think the benefits of a dedicated baby bath, such as the Stokke or Primo, in terms of safety and convenience outweighs the drawback. It you’re short on space, the Stokke folds up really easily for storage!
How Long Will You Use a Baby Bath For?
This depends on your house and tub. If you have an older tub and are concerned about lead or old faucets that you can’t cover up with a faucet cover, the Stokke XL will last until early school years, and will keep your little one safe and secure!
However, if you have a new and fairly safe bath, we transitioned our daughter into a “regular” bath around 1.5 years old. This transition mostly happened because we moved home to Canada at the start of the whole Covid-19 crisis, and didn’t bring our baby bath with us. But it felt like a good age to move into the “big person” tub, as she was stable enough to sit, and it gave her a bit more room to play.
I hope this post offered you some things to think about as you look for the best baby bath tub for your home and family. If you liked it, please share it!