Only what you need for your baby. Really. (OK – and some fantastic things you don’t that are pretty cool.)
OK, so seriously: you do not need a bath thermometer. Unless, of course, your hands and arms are coated with asbestos from that incident at the power plant that one time, in which case, yes, go ahead and get a bath thermometer.
Yes, infant bath time is stressful. I’m with you. I put it off for a long time. An unnaturally long time, really. Like two weeks. And then I got help from our postpartum doula. And then I waited another ten days before the next bath, when it took, like twenty minutes of prep time and two adults to bathe a seven-pound infant. I get it.
The first thing on the anxiety list is scalding your new little baby in those terrible, dangerous waters. You know: the same ones that we all bathe ourselves in daily without incident.
I don’t mean to make light of this – you should absolutely be very careful about the water temperature in your baby’s bath – but this is one of those things where your fear should lead you towards the use of common sense and caution, not the purchase of an additional gadget. Especially ones that work as poorly as infant bath thermometers.
Here’s how the DIY, no-gadget bath extravaganza works:
Step 1: Run the bath.
Step 2: Stick your elbow in it to see if it’s too hot* (your hands’ skin is a little too weathered to read the temp for a baby’s new skin)
Step 3: Adjust the temperature as needed.
Step 4: Put your baby in toes first, to give her a chance to pull them out if it’s uncomfortable. (I used to yell, “Tootsies first!” every time I dipped Astrid’s toes in the tub. I sounded like a crazy person from the 1950’s, but the habit stuck and it works, so just be quiet.)
That’s it. You’re done.
Think of it this way: you’re just as likely to forget to put the thermometer in the tub to test the water as you are to forget to test it yourself, so there’s no savings to your memory bank. If you’re really worried you’ll forget to dip your elbow in before the baby, put a Post-It on the infant tub, your bathroom mirror and her towel to remind yourself. Or write it in Sharpie on Junior’s tummy.
Trust yourself. It’s going to be fine.
*”Too hot” = any level of discomfort for your elbow. I erred on the side of lukewarm for a long time even though our infant care class instructor said repeatedly that warm/hot is OK. Do what you’re comfortable with – but do make sure it’s not chilly: you don’t want to swing wide and give your baby a cold!