The ultimate guide to baby bath safety

SafeWise experts have years of firsthand experience testing the products we recommend. Learn how we test and review

Bathing your baby can be a lovely experience for both you and bub, but there’s also risks when it comes to the safety of your baby. To help keep bath time safe, fun and relaxing for both baby and parents/caregivers, we’ve compiled a guide to baby bath safety so there’s less time worrying and more time splashing. Rub-a-dub-dub!

Guide to baby bath safety

Water temperature

You’ve probably heard the saying check your baby’s bath water with your elbow, not your hands. This is because the skin on our elbows is more sensitive than our hands, so you’re more likely to feel if the water is too hot (or too chilly).

Some parents would prefer to know exact numbers though (and avoid accidentally getting your sleeves wet), so if this is you, then getting a bath thermometer will help give you peace of mind that the bath will be deliciously warm and not too hot.

In terms of what that temperature should be, the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne says the best temperature for your baby’s bath is between 37C and 38C, but for a newborn, 36C is better. Most bath thermometers will also have an indicator letting you know when the temperature is *just* right.

This Dreambaby Duck Bath Thermometer doubles as a bath thermometer and fun bath toy! You can also use it in your baby’s room as a room thermometer. It re-checks the temperature every 10 seconds so you’re getting an up-to-date read, and gives you colour-coded temperature reads to easily communicate if the bath is too hot or too cold.


It should go without saying, but never leave your child in the bath unattended, even for a few seconds, and always make sure your child is supervised in the bath by a responsible adult (and no, that doesn't include older siblings). Doorbell? Don’t answer it. Phone ringing? Ignore it.

To help avoid the ‘I don’t have a dry towel’ panic as you go to get your baby out the bath, spend a few minutes beforehand making sure you have everything ready to go. Write a checklist if this helps - towel, nappy, change of clothes, bath toys - and lay it all out before you run a bath.

Type of bath

There’s plenty of baby bathtub types on the market, but whether you use the family tub, a bucket bath or baby seat, it’s important to always drain the water as soon as your baby is done. So it’s worth considering how you will do that, for instance, if you are using a baby bath on the kitchen table, can you easily drain the water down the sink, or will you need to carry a heavy bath of water across the room? The latter can be fraught with risk, so choose a location and bath with easy draining options.

The Skip Hop Moby 3-in-1 Baby Bath is designed to bathe your child across three stages, from newborn to infant and toddler, thanks to the included adjustable sling. Once your baby is sitting, you can remove the sling and have them sitting upright in the whale-shaped tub.

Bath toys

It’s not just water temperature and supervision that make a bath safe—toys come into the equation too. Despite being in the bath, bath toys are often not actually very clean at all. In fact, they are the perfect environment for mould to grow. The worst suspects are hollow toys with an opening, like rubber duckies that squirt out water. And because babies love to chew on anything and everything, this opens them up to getting sick from potential mould and bacteria.

To keep your baby safe, avoid hollow bath toys and always give any bath toys a regular, thorough clean. You can sterilise them in a bucket of boiling water, or give them a wipe down with disinfectant wipes.

Bath toys
Colourful Boon Bath Fleet Toys
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

The Boon Bath Stacking Boats are a great bath toy as there’s nowhere for water to get trapped, making them easy to clean and air out (and avoid the dreaded mould). Plus they are fun, bright colours that kids love and make a great baby shower gift. They stack on top of each, so they don’t take up too much space in your bathroom, have wide decks for scooping up water, and little holes to create a rain effect in the bath. Full steam ahead, captain!

Bath products

Did your friend gift you a lovely goat's milk and almond oil baby bath lotion at your baby shower? It sounds nice, but the advice is to avoid baby bath products that have any kind of foodstuff in them - including oils and milks.

Current research suggests babies are thought to be at a higher risk of developing food allergens when it’s absorbed through the skin first, rather than the digestive tract. So while it’s tempting to sud up with these products, skip them for now.

Cleaning your baby

While bath time can be loads of fun - it’s also for, you know, cleaning your baby top to tail. When it comes to actually giving bub a good scrub, it should be exactly that - top to tail. As in, start at the top. Clean your baby’s eyes and face first with a clean washer, then work your way down to the limbs, hands, feet, before washing your child’s bottom. This is to reduce the risk of any infection from faecal matter or other dirt and grime matter getting into your baby’s eyes.

Additional baby bath safety tips

  • Unplug all bathroom electrical devices and keep away from the bath.
  • Use a non-slip mat in the bath or shower.
  • Keep any bath lotions, shampoos and medications out of baby's reach.
  • Ignore all distractions. If you need to attend to something, take your baby with you. Don’t leave them in the bath unsupervised.
  • Babies can drown in mere seconds, and in shallow water. Always drain the bath immediately after use.
  • If using a baby bath inside the family tub, pull the baby bath tub away from the taps once filled. This avoids any hot water residue trickling onto bub.

Baby bath safety FAQ

Neither a bath or a shower is particularly safer for your baby; both carry risks, but both can be conducted safely. Either way, ensure the water temperature isn’t too hot.

If you are showering with your baby, make sure no-one else is using the hot water to avoid sudden changes in the water temperature, and consider buying a non-slip mat to reduce the risk of falling in the shower.

The ideal bath temperature for a newborn is around 36C. You can purchase a bath thermometer to check the temperature of the water, or dip your elbow into the bath to see how hot the water is.

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.
Kate Reynolds
Written by
Kate Reynolds is a writer who's at her happiest when there's haloumi on the brunch menu and a dog to give pats to. She's worked as a travel writer, journalist, theatre reviewer, broadcaster and radio creative, and spends her weekends with as much of the aforementioned haloumi and dogs as possible. She writes on Cammeraygal and Wangal land.

Recent Articles