Perhaps I shouldn't have called this feature all you really need for baby bathtime. Because the truth is you don't need anything other than somewhere clean to pop them - and the basin in your bathroom or the sink in the kitchen will do. Until they're on solids, you really don't need to use anything other than water to clean babies.
However, in the real world, we all kind of like to have a little bit more. A proper bath so you don't have to clear out the crocker first is quite nice. Again, you could use a bathtub. When my son was a couple of months old and I was visiting relatives, I just stuck a towel on the bottom of the bath, put in a little bit of water, and then supported him with one hand while I cleaned with the other.
That said, you really don't want to be doing that in the long term. It is a killer on your back. And while it was nice to have a bath with baby, it wasn't always terribly convenient to have to strip and hop in the bath myself.
So what's out there for baby bathtime? Here's the basics, and enough information to let you decide for yourself if you'll need the kit - or not.
It isn't a necessary piece of kit, as I mentioned above. But especially in the first few weeks it can be very useful. For one thing, you can use it anywhere. For the first month, I found it much more preferable to bathe my son in the living room than in the bath room.
I just used the basic Mothercare baby bath - like this one, the Little Circus Bath, which costs just a tenner. It is plastic, so lightweight, and a good size for baby. He could still fit in it when he was a year old. Also the way the sides curve made it easier to carry about even with water in there.
Then there are the more portable options. I know that a lot of mums are using the Flexibath (£29.95) as their main bath too. A little pricier but you're getting a bath you can take about anywhere with you, and that's handy specially if you're living somewhere where space is at a premium. We've reviewed the Flexibath, and you can read the review here.
Bath time toiletries
You don't need to use shampoo on a baby's hair. Just water is fine. Anything else, even Johnson's baby shampoo, will be harsh on their scalp. If your baby has cradle cap, use olive oil. Mine had a lot of this stuff - it looks like scaly, hard patches of skin, usually darker in colour than normal skin.
For a newborn, you'll want to give them a top and tail several times a day. For this you'll need two pots, one for the face and one for the bottom, and a bag of cotton wool. Keep the supplies by the bath so you can use the 'tops' pot for cleaning his or her face when you have a bath.
Use sterile water on the face - boil the kettle and let it cool till the water is warm. Then just wipe the face (newborns get a lot of crusty stuff in their eyes, and also some can be prone to conjunctivitis and this helps) with the cotton wool using one swipe only especially around the eyes. And then clean the bottom. You shouldn't use wipes on a baby this young as the chemicals are too harsh and chances are you'll get nappy rash.
I only ever used cotton wool for cleaning baby not a flannel, and then when he was older I used a soft sponge. However, once they get to a certain age (and for my son this was around two) you need a good cloth to give that face a scrub to get it clean!
Personally, I'd have LOVED a Cuddledry when son was a baby, although sadly they weren't around then. Now this is a luxury, but there's no harm in allowing yourself a little luxury now and again. Especially if you can get someone to buy it for you as a gift! A Cuddledry is a baby towel that mummy or daddy wears - and you can then scoop your baby up to cuddle and hold them as you dry.
Really a nice, soft hand towel will do the trick, and I had a couple that I used. But I did find that, especially during colder evenings, the towels that had the covered over corner - so you can use it like a hood - were more practical.
Bath time accessories
There's a huge array of stuff out there for baby's bathtime, if you do want to spend the money. I'm not going to go into them all here. I would recommend a bath mat for when you start using the big bath. Especially if they're a little unsure of the bath - I got a nice, spongy one so it didn't feel like he was sitting in a hard bath and he was much happier about bath time after that.
I did get a cover to go over the taps, but found that was a waste of money. It actually attracted him to the taps more than anything else and I spent my time making sure he didn't try to take it off. Why put cute little sea creatures on it? In the end I figured it was a better use of my time to simply make sure he didn't go near the taps.
Is there anything that you bought that turned out to be a life saver or a huge money waster? Let us know!