The Best Baby Bathtubs and Bath Seats | Reviews by Wirecutter – The New York Times

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After 25 hours of testing 10 baby bathtubs and bath seats with our own infants, we’ve determined that though you don’t need a specialized tub or seat to bathe your kiddo, having one can make the task a lot easier, more fun, and comfortable for everyone involved. Our favorite baby bathtub is the Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Sling ’n Seat Tub; it’s easy to use, feels safe, and will fit a rapidly growing baby for longer than most.
This tub’s generous dimensions make it the easiest to use of the basins we tested. Its design will grow with your baby, and it includes extras that other tubs don’t.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $33.
The Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Sling ’n Seat Tub is our favorite basin bath. It’s one of the roomiest tubs we tested, which made it easy to reach and wash all parts of our babies. It’s also the most versatile model we tried—a removable seat allows you to free up even more space once your baby can sit unsupported, which means you’ll be able to use it longer than most tubs. The Fisher-Price’s thoughtful details also make it more convenient to use than most basins we tested: It has a hook to hang it up, a drain plug, and a rinsing bottle. However, its large size means it probably won’t fit in the sink.
This bath is the same versatile style as our main pick in a slightly more manageable size, but babies will outgrow it more quickly.
The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe is a molded plastic basin like the Fisher-Price tub, but it’s shorter and narrower (and yet is still one of the largest baths we tried). Its smaller size could be a benefit if storage or sink space is a big concern, but it also means that it won’t fit your baby for as long. The First Years is the only bath we found with a soap holder, which, ironically, just creates more hard-to-clean surfaces on the tub.
This sink insert is the easiest to set up, clean up, lift, and store of all of the models we tested, but you can use it only in a big sink or a tub.
The Angelcare is the best choice if you want to bathe your baby directly in the sink or tub. The molded plastic seat was the easiest to use of its type, with virtually no set up or clean up, and it’s smaller and lighter than basin-style baby bathtubs. But you must have a tub, or a sink that’s large enough to fit its 23-inch length to use this seat, and it’ll take more water to run a bath than to fill a self-contained basin like our other picks.
This tub’s generous dimensions make it the easiest to use of the basins we tested. Its design will grow with your baby, and it includes extras that other tubs don’t.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $33.
This bath is the same versatile style as our main pick in a slightly more manageable size, but babies will outgrow it more quickly.
This sink insert is the easiest to set up, clean up, lift, and store of all of the models we tested, but you can use it only in a big sink or a tub.
I’m the home editor of Wirecutter, for which I’ve written about shoe racks, buying sheets, and pillows for side-sleepers. Until six months ago, I’d rarely—if ever—bathed a baby. Like most new skills you acquire when becoming a parent for the first time, there’s a steep learning curve. Immersed in the first few months of life with an infant, I quickly gained intimate knowledge about what does and doesn’t work to get a slippery baby clean. In addition to my own first-time-mom experience, I drew on the expertise of a dozen other Wirecutter parents, read a half-dozen reviews, and enlisted the testing help of Wirecutter appliance editor Liam McCabe, our resident expert in washing clothing and dishes, who put his cleaning expertise to work on his own new baby.
If you have a baby or a baby on the way, you may want a baby bath. Sure, you could just fill up the sink or tub and support your baby with your arms—or bathe with them—but a dedicated vessel or seat to corral your wet, squirmy, and possibly screaming kid can make bath time easier on everyone. Keeping your baby supported while in the water will free your hands for washing, and make you, and perhaps your baby, feel more comfortable and secure.
A dedicated baby bath is also a great idea if you don’t have a tub or large sink. Although they come in a multitude of designs and styles, these baths provide a large basin you can fill and then place on a table or the floor if you have only a small sink or shower to work with.
We began by sourcing bath recommendations from sites like Lucie’s List, The Bump, and BabyGearLab. Then we considered the most popular and highly rated baths from Amazon, BuyBuy Baby, Walmart, and Target and compiled a list of 29 promising options. We found that most baby baths fall into two general categories:
We included both types.
From our research and our own experience, we identified the criteria that a good baby bathtub or bath seat should have:
Ease of use: A baby bathtub or insert should make life easier, not harder. We looked for models that were simple to set up, quick to clean up, and didn’t use too much storage space. We appreciated convenient details like plugs to drain the bathwater and built-in hooks to hang the tub to dry and store it out of the way. With plush models, we also noted drying time, as a bath support hanging in the shower for multiple days can be inconvenient and also prone to mildew.
Safety: Bathing a new baby can be intimidating, and a baby bath can help by keeping your baby from slipping out of your hands or under the water. Even in a well-designed baby bath, you should never leave a baby unsupervised. We carefully considered how safe we felt putting our own children in each of these baths, noting how easy it was to get them in and out, if they felt secure or slipped around, and if they were able to easily keep their head far above the water.
Comfort for baby: A comfortable baby will always be easier to bathe so we looked for baths that were well-liked by online reviewers and that made our babies happy. This usually meant their bodies were well-supported, they had room to move around, and there was enough water to keep them warm.
Comfort for parent: We looked for baths that freed our hands for washing the baby, didn’t collapse or come apart, and felt stable when set on a surface. Some offered perks like soap holders or came with toys to distract the baby while you wash. We especially appreciated baths that made it easy to reach everything you need to wash.
Long lifespan: Like most baby gear, the length of time you can use a bath is limited by how fast your baby outgrows it, so we looked for baths that would fit a baby as long as possible. Some models did this with customizable add-ons, some had multiple built-in seats to support babies’ developing body control, and some were simply large enough to use throughout the first six to 12 months of life.
Using these guidelines, we scoured specs and dove into owner reviews to narrow our list to 10 promising models.
Boon Naked
The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe
Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Sling ’n Seat Tub
Primo EuroBath
Prince Lionheart Washpod
Angelcare Baby Bath Support
Blooming Bath Lotus
Skip Hop Moby SoftSpot
Puj Tub
We tested each bath by bathing our own babies: My daughter, who was between 4 and 5 months during testing, and Liam’s daughter, who was just two weeks younger. I have a large 30-inch kitchen sink where I placed any bath that would fit. The rest I used in the bathtub. Liam tested all of his baths in the tub. We split up the model list and started bathing, keeping detailed notes. When we found a bath our babies particularly liked, we sent it to the other person for a second opinion.
This tub’s generous dimensions make it the easiest to use of the basins we tested. Its design will grow with your baby, and it includes extras that other tubs don’t.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $33.
We think the Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Sling ’n Seat Tub will work best for most parents who want a dedicated baby bathtub. It’s convenient, feels very safe, and allows babies to lie or sit in more positions than any other bath we tested. This means the Fisher-Price will probably last you longer than other baths we tested, so even though it’s more expensive than some, we think it’s a good value. If you have a small kitchen sink and want a basin to use in your tub or elsewhere, this is the one to get.
Although it may sound counterintuitive, the large—but not too large—size of the Fisher-Price made it much easier to use than smaller tubs we tested, which sometimes required repositioning the baby in order to scrub. One much bigger tub we tried was just too cumbersome to manage. The Fisher-Price, which weighs a relatively heavy 7 pounds, was just right: it took almost no extra effort to set up and to clean, but having more elbow room in the tub made it easier to reach every baby part. Compared with other tubs we tried with more complex designs and hard-to-reach corners, the smooth, gently sloping surfaces of the Fisher-Price is much simpler to clean.
The Fisher-Price also includes some nice touches that make it easier to use: It’s one of the only baths we found with a drying hook—a surprisingly handy bonus—to keep the tub up and out of the way. Its drain plug means you don’t need to tip the heavy water-filled basin to empty it, something we struggled with while using some baths. It’s also the only bath we tested that includes a rinsing bottle, which, although it had the flow of a weak watering can, did help me rinse shampoo out of my baby’s hair.
We felt that our babies were safe in the Fisher-Price. It sits flat on the floor of the tub or shower, unlike some of the rounder, barrel-shaped baths that weren’t compatible with my tub’s sloped sides. If this tub won’t fit in your kitchen sink—which is likely, because it’s about 30 inches long—it can sit above it; its notched feet securely hook over the divider of a split sink. The interior angles of the bath kept our babies’ heads safely above the water and didn’t let them slip side-to-side or slouch down. Another basin I tested, the Shnuggle, was scary for me and my daughter because she kept sliding sideways in the too-wide tub.
The Fisher-Price is more versatile than any other bath we tested, offering four configurations for bathing. Like some other tubs we tried, it includes a newborn sling for the first few months, and the tub itself consists of a padded, reclined lounge seat on one end and a more upright seat on the other. These two positions support newborns as they slowly work toward the ability to sit. The Fisher-Price outperformed all of the other tubs because it adds a fourth position: Once your baby can sit comfortably, removing the seat frees up even more room in the tub for larger infants to play. Even with the seat attached, the Fisher-Price has more room to move around—it’s longer and wider than most basins we looked at. But unlike other wide tubs that let my baby slip to the side, Fisher-Price’s seat held her in place while leaving her plenty of space to splash.
This versatility means you’ll be able to use this bath for longer than any other we tested. It accommodates babies up to 25 pounds, so it can provide about a year of use—which, conveniently, is the length of its limited warranty. Our runner-up, the First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe, has the same weight limit, but its shorter interior length limits its lifespan. Wirecutter appliance editor Liam McCabe, who owns the Fisher-Price, loves that he won’t need to buy a larger bath for his almost-6-month-old daughter: “As somebody who hates buying things twice, I like the idea that I should be able to use this one tub for at least another six months—without having to fill up the whole bathtub for a person who’s barely 2 feet tall.”
Although we like the large size of the Fisher-Price, it’s heavier and harder to store than the more compact baths we tried. It weighs almost 7 pounds and wouldn’t fit in my large 30-inch kitchen sink, as other basins did, so I was forced to kneel next to the tub during bathtime. We doubt that this bath would fit in many sinks. The Fisher-Price has notched feet to secure it on top of a split sink, but, depending on your height, doing so may make it too high to comfortably reach inside.
The removable seat, though versatile, is a pain to remove. Pulling it off requires enough force that I wondered if I was about to break something. And, to add insult to injury, the drain plug is located under the seat, which makes it more awkward to reach than those of some of the other models we tested (but still others have no drain plug). You can solve this problem by reaching under the tub to push the plug in from the outside, rather than bothering to remove the seat, as one Amazon reviewer did. Finally, the squeezable rinsing bottle is a good idea, but in reality, the spray of water was too wide to rinse my baby’s hair without also splashing her face.
This bath is the same versatile style as our main pick in a slightly more manageable size, but babies will outgrow it more quickly.
If the Fisher-Price is too big and heavy for you, we like the First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe basin almost as much. It’s plenty easy to use and feels safe and comfortable. But it allows for only three bathing positions rather than four and is thus a little less versatile than the Fisher-Price. Its smaller size also means your baby will probably outgrow it more quickly.
The molded plastic First Years basin is almost as easy to use as the Fisher-Price. Each end has a padded rest—reclined on one side, supported sitting on the other—so setup is a breeze. Like the Fisher-Price tub, the First Years tub has a handy drain plug, but it is easier to access and use than the one on our main pick. This tub is also significantly lighter—about 3 pounds instead of 7. It’s one of the only baths we tested that includes a built-in soap holder, which could be a perk if you’re using it far from a sink or bathroom. However, the soap holder and the bath in general have a lot of complex architecture—peaks and valleys, divots and humps—which are hard to clean compared with the relatively smooth surface of the Fisher-Price. And, without a hanging hook like our main pick’s, I had to lean this bath against the shower wall to dry.
When it’s sitting on a flat surface, the First Years tub feels stable, and like the Fisher-Price, it has notched feet to help it sit securely over a kitchen sink, but can feel similarly high and uncomfortable to use in that position, depending on your height. As with our main pick, the inside supported my daughter safely. The bath is narrow enough that even though she can’t sit up, she didn’t slip to the side. The angle of the recline kept her face safely out of the water, but also allowed her body to stay submerged and warm.
Compared with the relatively smooth surface of the Fisher-Price, the First Years has a lot more places for water and dirt to get stuck.
The First Years bath is slightly less versatile than the Fisher-Price. Its exterior is only about 2 inches shorter, but thanks to the soap holder and molded design, the interior is significantly shorter. Although my then-5-month-old daughter is tall for her age, she was almost too long for this bath. And unlike with the Fisher-Price, you can’t remove The First Years’s seat to free up more room, so we think most babies will outgrow this basin more quickly. Although the First Years tub can hold infants up to 25 pounds, some Amazon reviewers note that their babies outgrew it long before they reached the weight limit.
This sink insert is the easiest to set up, clean up, lift, and store of all of the models we tested, but you can use it only in a big sink or a tub.
Unlike the self-contained Fisher-Price and First Years basins, the Angelcare Baby Bath Support is a bath seat meant to be used inside a filled sink or bathtub. The Angelcare was the easiest to use of the baths we tried, felt secure, and was comfortable for everyone involved. In fact, if you have a sink big enough to fit the 23-inch-long Angelcare, we think it’s the most comfortable bath option for the parent. The Angelcare is a great choice for the tub, too, if you don’t want the hassle of a big basin and don’t mind using more water.
Next to other sink inserts we tried, the Angelcare was by far the easiest to set up and clean. It’s also significantly lighter and smaller—about 7 inches shorter and up to 5 pounds lighter—than the basin styles we recommend, so it’s more manageable to pull out at bath time and store when not in use. Its perforated, soft plastic molded seat is comfortable but also doesn’t soak up water like the plush inserts we tested, which tended to drip all over the floor and take days to dry. The Angelcare includes a hanging loop, which isn’t as convenient as the Fisher-Price’s large hook. Instead of offering multiple newborn, infant, and toddler accessories and positions, its one-and-done reclined seat supports babies in a lounge position. It doesn’t offer an option for sitting more upright like our other picks, which may be a dealbreaker if your baby likes that position.
The Angelcare felt much safer and more secure than other sink inserts we tested. Its frame is made from strong, molded plastic with a soft, perforated mesh seat and backrest. A layer of rubber molding along the base keeps it from slipping on wet surfaces. Other bath seats we tried felt flimsy and unstable; the foam Puj Tub, which uses magnets to fold its seat together, even came apart with my baby inside. The angle of the Angelcare’s backrest is reclined to support babies who can’t yet sit, but steep enough that it holds their head far above the water. Some inserts we tried, like the Blooming Bath Lotus, were more like flat pillows that didn’t keep our babies at what felt like a safe angle. Like our other picks, the Angelcare has a molded butt bump that kept our babies from sliding down the incline into the water.
The Angelcare felt like one of the most comfortable baths we used for our babies. The soft plastic of the mesh seat is sturdy but also flexible so it cradled my baby’s back and bottom. The molded shape positioned her in a supported recline but left her feet free to kick the water (a favorite bath time activity) which the tub styles did not. Other baths that used especially soft and comfortable materials, like the Moby SoftSpot, lacked the Angelcare’s structure and support. Many Amazon reviewers also mention how comfortable and happy their babies are in this bath: “We have been using this for a week and our bath time has gone from quick and sad to fun, calm, and much longer… I love that he is fully supported and able to be immersed (at a safe level) in the water to help keep him warm. The bath support is light, easy to keep clean, and pretty fantastic!”
The Angelcare is also the most comfortable for the bath giver—if it fits in your sink. This bath is at just the right height for standing at the sink (picture your posture while doing the dishes). Although basins like our other picks, the Fisher-Price and First Years tubs, are compatible with sink bathing, they’re bigger, so they may not fit inside. Even though their notched feet let you safely set them over your sink, they make them too high to be truly comfortable for short or average-height bath-givers. However, if the Angelcare won’t fit, you’ll need to use it in the tub, which will require the same crouched, kneeling position as most other baths. Keep in mind that any way you use the Angelcare, it will use more water than a self-contained bath. If you don’t have a bathtub and your sink won’t accommodate the Angelcare, you should try one of our other picks instead.
Of the relatively few negative reviews on Amazon, some report that the Angelcare’s mesh tore and that the mesh allowed their babies to get cold easily, while others felt that the insert was uncomfortable for boys.
The Prince Lionheart Washpod is billed as a womb-like environment that makes babies feel comforted and secure. It’s true that our babies loved being inside it, but it was so snug that we found it very hard to actually wash them. This tub may be great for calming a fussy baby, but it’s not a convenient bath.
Although the Shnuggle has a foam back pad, it didn’t do much to keep my baby from sliding side to side, which made me nervous. Its angled recline was also too steep to wash and rinse her hair without splashing her face. It is, however, one of the smallest basins we tested, so if storage space is an issue, it may work for you.
We couldn’t understand why the Boon Naked has so many positive reviews because we found it difficult and somewhat scary to use. Its interior has no structure, so babies who can’t sit aren’t well-supported and the foldable legs made it feel precarious. This was also the only tub that made us resort to frustrated profanity in our notes.
The Primo EuroBath is—by far—the biggest bath we tested. It’s 36 inches long and 25 inches wide, too big to be practical for many, and Liam found in testing that the newborn side of it was uncomfortably large for his then-4-month-old. Two Wirecutter editors, however, are fans of using the Primo for older babies and toddlers, and it may be a good second tub if you have only a shower stall at your disposal.
The Skip Hop Moby SoftSpot is the smallest bath we tried, so it might be right for a newborn, but won’t last very long as your baby grows. Its beanbag-like texture also soaked up a lot of water and was difficult to clean.
We found the Blooming Bath Lotus nearly impossible to use. It was too floppy to be supportive in a large kitchen sink; the petals, though soft, are so large and plush that they took three days to dry.
The Puj Tub seemed convenient at first because its lightweight foam and folded design mean it’s super easy to store. But the magnets that held the folded seat together weren’t strong enough to keep it from pulling apart under my baby’s weight. I couldn’t finish the bath without switching to one of our picks, the Angelcare.
Liam McCabe contributed reporting.
Anisa Arsenault, 10 Best Baby Bathtubs, The Bump, May 30, 2018
Bath Stuff, Lucie’s List, June 1, 2018
Best Baby Bathtubs of 2018, Babylist, January 1, 2018
Juliet Suprrier, MD, and Lindsay Selig, The Best Baby Bathtub Review, BabyGearLab, June 1, 2018
Jennifer Hunter
Jennifer Hunter is a senior editor covering apparel, accessories, and pets, and she was previously editor of Wirecutter’s home-goods coverage. She spent a decade writing and editing for lifestyle brands such as Architectural Digest and Apartment Therapy, which has come in handy for her latest project: restoring her untouched mid-century Los Angeles home.
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