As every parent knows, a squiggly, slippery baby can be quite a handful at bath time. A baby bath seat may seem like a great way to keep your mobile munchkin in one place, but buyers beware: These seats can actually pose serious danger—so much so, in fact, that many experts and consumer groups, including the American Association of Pediatrics, no longer recommend them. If you’re thinking about purchasing an infant bath seat, here’s what to know before buying, and how to choose and use one safely so splash time with baby stays fun and stress free.
What Is a Baby Bath Seat?
A baby bath seat is a type of chair, usually made of hard plastic, that sits partially submerged in the bathtub water. Designed to support the head and back, these seats also help baby stay put, leaving your hands free so you can properly soap and clean your little one. “It can be very difficult to bathe a baby, especially a newborn, in a regular tub by yourself,” says Nicole Randazzo-Ahern, MD, medical director of the newborn nursery at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Boston. “A baby bath seat also allows you to wash your child without having to buy a smaller tub, which an infant will quickly outgrow.”
There are several varieties of bath seats. For newborns, there are plastic models contoured to an infant’s body, as well as sling chairs with suspended cloth seats that let in water through the fabric. “Both of them are tilted back like a lounge chair and designed for babies who can’t sit up on their own,” says Randazzo-Ahern. Older infants can be placed in a more traditional-style baby bath chair, which is similar to a high chair seat: It has a bar across the front instead of a tray, openings for baby’s legs and suction cups on the bottom to secure it to the tub. Another option is a baby bath ring, a soft, inflatable “pillow” that allows your infant to lay back and float in the water. When baby can sit up, the seat ring can be secured around the waist to help keep him upright.
Baby Bath Seat Dangers
Experts all agree that the biggest hazard of infant bath seats is that they give parents a false sense of security, which could tempt them to leave baby unattended—with potentially tragic results. Infants can crawl or slide out of the seats, or tip forward or sideways. Suction cups on the bottom of a baby bath chair can also become…