This article looks at bathing and changing gear and helps you weigh up your options for some of the bigger gear for bathing and changing.
When it comes to bath and changing time, there are heaps of things that make your life easier, but none that are absolutely essential.
Change Tables for Bathing and Changing
While there are a whole range of change tables available, the two basic versions are folding and solid. When choosing a change table, keep in mind the following.
A folding change table is great if you have limited space. Even in set-up mode it takes up less space than a solid version, and it is much easier to store away once you are past the nappy stage. Folding tables are made from wipeable fabric so they are easy to keep clean, and they are considerably cheaper than the solid tables. On the down side, folding tables usually have limited storage space (if any) for nappies and other changing needs.
Cost: $100 – $150
While solid changing tables take up a lot of space, they usually have 2 or 3 shelves for storing nappies and other changing needs, so you can maximise your use of space. Once you are past the nappy stage, you can still use your change table as shelves in baby’s room. Solid change tables are much more expensive than folding versions, so you want to get plenty of use out of them.
Things to look for when buying a solid change table include a removable change pad (so you can clean it easily), and castors (so the unit is easy to move when vacuuming or changing baby’s room around). If the changing table has the facility to hold a baby bath, make sure the change part can be completely removed so that it doesn’t fall onto the baby while bathing.
Cost: $280 – $400
Whether you are buying a folding or solid change table, you should make the following safety checks.
- Does it have safety straps to help keep baby from rolling around?
- Does it have raised sides to stop baby from rolling off?If there is a gap between the base and the side bar, make sure it is safe. Gaps between 30-50mm can trap arms and legs, while gaps between 85 – 95mm can trap a baby’s head.
- Does it have a strong sturdy frame that won’t collapse during use?If it is a folding table, check the fabric is well attached to the frame, and that it has a locking mechanism which prevents the table from folding up while baby is lying on it.
- Does the change table have smooth edges and rounded corners?
Remember to never leave a baby of any age unattended on a changing table. If you think this is impracticable you may be better changing baby on the floor
Plastic Form Molded Bath
Not so long ago this was the only type of baby bath you could get – a basic plastic bath which looked just like a grown up bath, only smaller. These are still widely available and are the cheapest type of baby bath on the market. Some now come with a plug for easy emptying.
A plastic form molded bath can be used inside a standard bath, but many people use them on the kitchen bench or change table to make bathing easier on their backs. Again be sure to NEVER leave baby unattended if you do this. This type of bath will be used for many years to come – as a small paddling pool in the garden!
Cost: $10 – $30 depending on the brand and size
The Tummy Tub looks like a giant bucket, but it is actually a well thought out baby bath. It has been developed with the assistance of midwives to help create something which enables baby to relive the security of the womb. Babies who are bathed in the Tummy Tub naturally adopt the fetal position, and the upward pressure of the water makes them feel weightless and comfortable. It is particularly good for colicky or premature babies. Babies almost float in the water, and only light support is needed while bathing.
From a practical view point, The Tummy Tub uses less water than a traditional baby bath, so is therefore lighter and easier to carry. The Tummy Tub can be used from birth – 2 years.
Bath Supports to help Bathing and Changing
There are a whole range of bath supports available, and everyone has as favourite kind. Here is a list of the most popular.
Towelling Bath Cradle
A towelling cradle is literally towelling fabric on a sturdy metal frame. This bath support lets baby lie at about a 45º angle while you wash them with minimal support. You still need to keep a hand on them, but the cradle acts as your 3rd arm.
Cost: $15 – $20
Plastic Bath Cradle
These cradles are made out of rigid plastic, and look like a baby’s car seat. The mold of the cradle means that you can wash baby hands-free, while the cradle holds them in place. Once you’ve finished washing, you may want to take them out of the cradle so that they get some splash time.
Cost: $30 – $35
Bath seats help support baby in the bath when they are still a bit wobbly sitting up. Adult supervision is obviously still required, but it leaves your hands free while they sit unaided by you.
Cost: $25 – $35 depending on the style and brand
Lotions and Potions used at Bathing and Changing
There are literally hundreds of soaps, shampoos, lotions and potions available for babies, but the less you can use – the better. Babies only need to be washed in water – with such sensitive skin, you want to keep potential allergens to a minimum and focus on mild, natural products as much as you can. There are some well trusted brands available from the supermarket, or check out the ‘Where do I get it from?’ section below for some online stores with organic baby products.
Cost: $10 – $25
Towels, Cloths and Wraps for Bathing and Changing
When choosing towels, cloths and wraps, stick to soft cotton fabrics which are gentle on baby’s skin. There are heaps of different colours and styles available, but provided they are soft and easy-to-wash, they’ll be just fine. A hooded towel is great for wrapping up baby straight from the bath, and keeps head and body warm all at the same time.
Cost: $5 – $45
‘Nice-to-haves’ Bathing & Changing Gear
There are always things that would be nice-to-have for baby – these are great for bath and changing time.
Disposable Nappy Unit
Disposable nappy units are like rubbish bins for disposable nappies, except much better. You simply push the nappy into the top of the unit, and it wraps and seals away any odours before dropping it into the bin. Most units hold over 100 nappies before you need to empty it and are really handy to have next to the change table.
Cost: $60 – $100
You’ll soon find that leaning over the side of the bath isn’t that comfortable. A bath bumper is a foam or rubber mat which lies over the bath side, and protects your tummy and hips from the hard edge.
Cost: $30 – $60
Tap covers are a great rubber safety item which slide over the top of the tap. Usually shaped into something fun, a tap cover protects baby from banging their head or touching hot taps.
Cost: $20 – $25
There are hundreds of bath toys available to make bath time fun, but anything which squirts, scoops, dribbles, sieves, bubbles or floats will keep baby amused. A mesh bath bag that sticks to the side of the bath with sucker pads is a great place to store the toys.
Cost: $2 – $50
Can I buy Bathing & Changing Gear second hand?
Absolutely – however if you are buying a change table second hand, you should go through the Safety Checklist above. You can find second hand items through your normal second hand channels.
Where can I get Bathing and Changing Gear from?
You can buy your bath and change time items from any large department store or specialist baby shop, and there are also some great online stores. We will be bringing you a list of New Zealand stores shortly.
To find out more about your nappy options, see our full range of Kiwi Families articles on Nappies
There is also some great advice on clothing for babies in Baby Clothes.