How to bath a newborn the European way – All you need to know.

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When my baby was first bathed in the hospital after two days (far too early!), it was the first time my son cried for nearly 10 minutes. From the beginning my son was a calm, happy baby as I wish for every mother. He has only screamed when he really needed something urgently (mom, food, sleep) or he was in pain. So I asked myself: How do I bath a newborn without these tears?

The bathing in the hospital was a terrible situation for me and I knew that I would never put him back in such a normal baby bathtub!

Does your baby often cry while bathing?

Then maybe I have a solution for you.

Fortunately I stumbled across the subject of baby bathing in my pregnancy and had bought an upright baby bathtub after some research. The tub is more a bucket and more common in Europe than th US.

When we were back home after the birth and the time had come for a second bath, my husband and I were very curious if the bathtub keeps its promises.

And yes, Bingo! The bucket was a great investment in the happiness of our son! 😉

My son always enjoyed the time in the bath tub and did not cry once. He usually sat peacefully in the bath water, chuckling, and enjoying his life.

That's why I want to share my experiences today and introduce the (upright) bath tub, its use and what you have to consider when bathing with a newborn baby.

I hope I can help you with my article to spend a relaxed baby bath time and I hope you can take a few tips along about bathing with baby.

But first of all, the basics.

Disclaimer: This article may contain advertising links to Amazon. If you decide to buy something via this link, I might get a commission. So you can support my blog at no costs for you. Thank you for your support!

What is an upright bathtub?

An upright bathtub or bath bucket simply is a bucket, usually made of very durable BPA-free plastic, which has been specially adapted to the size and needs of your newborn child.

The peculiarities of such a bucket and at the same time the differences to a baby bathtub are summarized as follows:

  1. Non-slip
  2. Lightweight and easy to carry
  3. Water fill line
  4. Transparent
  5. Closely

Non-slip: A good bath bucket has a non-slip bottom, so that the bucket is particularly stable. Even when wet on the bathroom tiles the bath bucket should not stir from the spot.

Lightweight and easy to carry: Due to the material, the bucket is very lightweight and would be easy to carry even with child and water, which I have never tried myself. I was too scared to drop everything out of clumsiness.

Due to the special shape of the bucket and a curved edge, the bucket can be easily grabbed and you always have it safely in your hand. Reminds me of a dough-mixing bowl.

Water fill line: The water fill line is very important for a baby's bath tub. It is rather difficult for a parent to estimate how much water should be poured in when the child is not already in it.

You quickly misjudge the baby's size and volume, and the baby sits in the water right up to his chin. That's not wanted.

Transparent: The buckets are deliberately transparent, so you can watch and admire the baby around and immediately realize where it is still dirty or where something is wrong.

Closely: The Bathtubs are designed to model the narrowness of the womb. The newborn feels reminiscent of the woolly warmth and protective tightness of the womb.

These features provide some advantages over the standard baby bathtub, making bathing easier and more relaxing for many babies. The baby bucket also offers some advantages in terms of health.

What are the advantages of the bucket?

1 Comfort

The biggest and most important benefit of a baby bath bucket for your newborn baby is that the narrowness and warm water give him the feeling of security that your baby already knows from the womb.

Many children start crying in a baby bathtub, because their body does not feel a limitation around them. Newborn babies in particular lack the spatial limitations during the first time after birth.

Everything is suddenly big and wide for the little ones, so they enjoy being swaddled and feel particularly comfortable in the sling.

The combination of warm water and narrowness puts many babies back into the safe and secure environment of the womb.

2 Security

The safety while bathing the baby is another very important advantage of the bucket. Your child is not lying, but is sitting in the bucket in fetal position.

As a result, slipping of the baby is unlikely. As soon as the baby is able to keep his or her head upright alone, a baby can even sit in the bucket under supervision without help.

3 Constant water temperature

The upright and compact design of the bath bucket has the advantage that the water stays warm longer. The low water surface prevents too fast cooling of water and baby.

4 Therapy

Upright bathtubs can be used to treat three-month colic, abdominal pain or flatulence. The reason is the position of your baby in the bucket together with the warm water temperature that covers the whole belly (in this case 38 °C / 100,4 °F is often recommended).

The legs tucked up and the warmth stimulate the digestive tract and have a relaxing and antispasmodic effect. Your baby can thereby get rid of the unpleasant gases better.

5 Stable

Due to its construction, the bath bucket is compact and stable. A good baby bath bucket is also rubberized at the bottom, which also makes it non-slip.

6 Water-saving

The bucket gets by with far less water than a standard baby bathtub or a sink. If you bathe your baby often, you will consume less water in total than with the conventional methods.

7 Lightweight

Due to the compact design and the small amount of water required, the bucket is not heavy even with baby.

But especially without your baby, only filled with water, the bathtub is very light, which can be a relief for moms especially in the puerperium or shortly after a c-section.

8 Sleep promoting

Back in the womb, in the warm water, cared for and comfy is the best way to fall asleep. I have already read of babies who fell asleep while bathing.

That may not be the rule, but most newborns relax very well while bathing in the bucket so that they can fall asleep better afterwards. Relaxation is the keyword here.

9 Place saving

As already mentioned the bucket is quite compact and easy to stow. Even when traveling you could transport it well because it is smaller than the standard baby bathtub.

Whether you really need a bathtub or bucket on vacation is another question. 😉

10 Reusable

If your little sweetheart has grown out of the bath bucket (it is available in different sizes, by the way), you can simply use the bathtub as a ordinary bucket.

Or you give it to the next expectant mother.

What are the disadvantages of the bucket?

Yes, my beloved bath bucket actually has a few drawbacks.

But not many 😉

1) Washing: The drawback often mentioned is that, due to the narrow bucket, washing is not quite as simple.

That's true. You need some skill to get well in all places. Personally, I experienced it that way, but it never disturbed, because a newborn is hardly dirty anyway.

2) The price: From time to time it can be read that the price is too high, for the duration of the use. I can not confirm this, since you can spend a lot or a little money on bath buckets as well as bathtubs.

In both cases, there is a range of about 10 to 40 dollars. And the bathtub is not used forever. We bought our bucket secondhand for about 5 €.

3) The size: It is often argued that the baby grows out of the upright bath tub very quickly. You have to see how big your baby is and possibly choose a larger bucket. But you will not want to use the baby bathtub forever too.

Personally, I did not see this as a disadvantage, but you should still be aware.

If you have any further concerns that need to be mentioned here, please let me know in the comments below!

When can I bathe my baby?

bath a newborn
Baby bathes in the bath bucket

Actually, the first bath should not take place immediately after birth. The baby's skin is still very sensitive right after birth.

Many do not know that due to a natural birth (vaginal birth) important good bacteria have been given to the baby that are necessary for the development of the intestinal flora.

Unfortunately, even today due to exaggerated cleanliness babys are bathed much too quickly and the baby is rather harmed than benefited.

Your baby should be bathed only when the umbilical cord has fallen off and the navel is thus closed. Otherwise, bacteria or germs may infiltrate and lead to inflammation.

So you may like to wait two weeks to the first bath and by then gently cleanse the baby with a washcloth. Your midwife will advise you here in detail.

Especially in the first few days your baby just needs his mom (or another primary caregiver), nothing else. Anything additional only bothers the bonding time.

How often should I bathe my baby?

The question of the “how many times” many parents have been dealing with for many generations, whether it's a bathtub, a bucket or a sink.

My mother bathed us children every day. What an effort!

My sister was only allowed to have her children bathe once a week at a maximum. These two opinions have alternated regularly for decades.

But what is right?

As so often, there is no right and wrong here. In the end, it is up to you as a mother or father to decide how often you bathe your child. After all, it's your child and only you decide. Listen to your feeling and your mother or father instinct.

In my experience, especially newborns need to be bathed very rarely. They rarely get dirty (apart from diaper accidents) because they do not crawl yet and spend most of their time with their caregiver.

Too much bathing can dry out the skin and, according to my experience, promote neurodermatitis. It is important to find the right balance and to do without bath additives. My son is still bathed with just a teaspoon of coconut oil as an additive and has enviably soft skin.

What is the right baby bath temperature?

Despite all the recommendations, your feeling is also important here. The often mentioned bathing temperature of a children's bath of 37 °C / 98,6 °F can be too warm or too cold for your child.

Look closely at your child. Is he crying when putting him into the water? Does he immediately pull up his legs and wants to get out again? Then the water is probably too warm.

Babies have their own sense of warmth and coldness like us adults. There are also little ones that like warm water and ones that prefer a cold shower. In Germany we call them “Warmduscher” and “Kaltduscher”,

Always check the water yourself with your elbow and do not rely solely on the thermometer. I have already experienced big differences between two children's thermometers in the same water.

A bathing temperature between 35°C and 37°C (95°F and 98,6°F) is generally recommended. At least you can take that as a basis and then adapt it to the needs of your sweetheart.

How long can I bathe my baby?

Especially for newborns and premature babies a bath should not last longer than 10 minutes. The skin of the little ones is still sensitive and tends to dry out.

Do without bath additives and rather put some oil in the bathtub. Your midwife will surely advise you reliably on this topic.

As the kids get older and start having fun bathing, you can gradually extend that time.

I still do not bathe my one-year-old for much longer than about 10 minutes. But even here there are individual differences.

How do I bathe my baby in the baby bath bucket?

Many parents do not use an upright bathtub because they are unsure how their baby can be safely bathed in it.

But the bath bucket is even a little bit safer than the bathtub, because, if used properly, the baby can not easily go under water.

There is no complete safety when it comes to bathing, as babies can neither swim nor breathe underwater. Therefore, you must never leave your child unattended for a single moment, regardless of the bathing method.

Back to the bucket. First, it is very important to fill the water only up to the mark. Since the bucket is not as wide as a tub, the water is displaced more into the height and a smaller amount is necessary.

Once the newborn is seated in it, the water should not be higher than her shoulders. Under no circumstances should the water reach to the chin!

How do I put the baby in the bucket? This works best in the “flying baby position”. Your naked sweetheart is put on your forearm with his butt ahead and supported with your hand between his legs.

With the other hand, you support his head on the neck and let the flying baby position only when your baby is completely in the bucket.

As long as your child can not keep his head up safe, you hold it with two fingers under the chin.

Nothing else.

The support under the chin is enough to keep your baby safely above the water. Of course, you can also use the whole hand to support your head, if you are unsure.

Quite briefly explained: The Baby-bathtub-chin-grip 😉 in a video of BabyOne

Just try the handles a few times before the bath if you still have concerns.

That's it. Now you can grab a rag with the other hand and wash your sweetheart.

When you're done, you're just going backwards, just like when getting your baby into the water. 🙂

Especially careful, you should be when using oils in the water. That always makes things a bit slipperier, both with the bathtub and with the bucket.

Common mistakes when using the bucket

1) Too much water: Probably the most common mistake that I see again and again with horror in numerous YouTube videos and pictures on the Internet is that too much water is filled in the bucket.

The water must not reach to the baby's chin, but must end well below it, approximately at shoulder level. The danger otherwise is that the babys face quickly lands in the water.

Especially if he cannot yet hold up the head safely, the baby can swallow water or even go down with it.

Note the mark on the bucket!

2) Shaky ground: Always place the baby bath bucket on a secure surface, preferably on the floor in the bathroom. Never on the washing machine or a table.

3) Too long ways: Fetch all the necessary bathing utensils, such as rags, towels, etc. in advance so you have nothing to get in between and, in the worst case, leave your baby alone in the water.

My baby cries while bathing, what can I do?

There should actually be babies who, despite all the advantages, do not like upright bathtubs. The following also fits with standard bathtubs. Before you give up too fast, first check the following points:

1) Is the temperature ok? As already mentioned, there are babies that are “Kaltduscher” or “Warmduscher” 😉 Some babies feel well at 35 °C and scream at 37 °C. In your case, it may start to freeze at 37 °C. The only ways is to try and get slowly to the right temperature from below. .

The only ways is to try and get slowly to the right temperature from below.

2) Is your baby maybe too big for the bucket? Babies grow faster than we sometimes like, and maybe your sweetheart just does not like the bucket too narrow.

Our model has lasted 6 months. Then we switched to parents bathtub. Upright bathtubs exist in different sizes, so that you can theoretically bathe the child up to 3 years in the bucket (e.g. Tummy Tub).

3) Did you fill in too much water? Some babies can be scared of too much water. It just takes a while for them to get used to the situation. Start with less and gradually fill the bucket up to the shoulders.

4) Does your sweetheart need to pee or poo? Babies do not like to have a full bladder while bathing. Put your baby on the pot again before bathing or hold it over a bowl / sink / loo. Freshly emptied everything is easier!

5) Is your baby hungry? Both apply here: With a full stomach and hungry you should not go “swimming”. It is best if your baby has eaten something about half an hour before the bath. With a growling stomach everything is stupid.

What should be considered when buying?

You should pay attention to the following points when buying a bath bucket:

1) The bath bucket should have a wide, non-slip or rubberized base.

Rubberized base

2) Important is a water level mark for the maximum filling height, which is easy to recognize. Many buckets have a stamped ring for the minimal and maximum Water height.

3) The bucket should be easy to grab.. Most have a curved edge. There are different versions. Take the one that you like the most.

Rand des Bieco Badeeimers.

Our Bieco bath bucket has a very nice handy curved edge.

The bathtub of Tummy Tub rather relies on separate handles.

Der Rand des Tunmy Tub Badeeimers

4) There are also different sizes. If you have a big kid, it may be worth looking for a bigger version right away, then you'll enjoy it longer

5) It does not have to be the expensive “original” Swedish bathtub of “Tummy Tube”. In my opinion, a used bucket from the well-known secondhand online stores will do the trick. That saves money and the environment.

Unfortunately, I have not seen any alternative to the plastic buckets with similar benefits. If you want to completely dispense with plastic, the alternative is probably just the bathtub or a wooden barrel. 😀

Buy recommendation

The market for upright baby bathtubs is quite clear. Basically you can choose between Tummy Tub, Bieco, Bébé Jou and a few smaller providers. Not all are available in the US, but in Europe.

My recommendation is the Bieco bath bucket because it is a stable and robust bucket and therefore comes in beautiful colors. Especially the wide base offers a lot of security and the curved edge has a very nice grip.

The curved shape and the bright colors are also a real eye-catcher.

Who is looking for a larger model, is well adviced with the bath bucket of Bébé Jou, which measures 46 x 46 x 35 cm (width x length x height) and is larger than e.g. the bath bucket of Tummy Tub (38.5 x 38.5 x 33 cm) or Bieco and thus a little longer in use.

For comparison, I used our bathtub by Bieco up to the 6th month (my child is rather tall). The bucket has the following dimensions (The bucket is oval, therefore there are two lengths for width):

  • Height: 33 cm
  • Inner top (width x length): 28,8 cm x 33 cm
  • Outer top (width x length): 33,5 cm x 38,8 cm
  • Width of the base: 21 cm

Some bathtubs, such as the one by Bébé Jou also offers a back-friendly table with a click system, which to me personally is just too much plastic and seems superfluous to me.

We were very happy with Bieco and will use him for the next child. You can buy the bath bucket from Bieco at Amazon.


I love our bath bucket and was actually sad when my sweetheart outgrew it. I experienced bathing by baby in an upright bath tub simple and inexpensive. My son enjoyed it too and was not afraid of bathing anymore.

I am convinced that the benefits of the bath, the narrowness and the limitation, that are so important for newborns, are in fact true and not just a sales strategy.

For me, the bucket joins the list of attachment parenting and bonding oriented “aids” such as carrying your baby and co-sleeping.

Nevertheless, there are many babies who do not mind bathing in a normal bathtub or in the sink. You can only find out for yourself what fits for you and your sweetheart.

But I hope, I could give you some additional information about baby bath buckets and the bathing of newborns and wish you a wonderful bath time with your baby.

If you like the post, you are welcome to share it. If you have comments or questions about bathing a newborn, please let me know in the comments below.

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