Real talk: sometimes bathing a baby can be a real chore. Don’t get me wrong, watching my daughter splash around in the tub with a giant grin on her face is a lot of fun. Still, giving her a bath nightly is a time-consuming and often exhausting activity.
As the primary caregiver in our house, I frequently bathe her by myself when my husband works late. That said, sometimes I need a night off, whether to go out with friends, start dinner in peace, or just zone out on the couch for thirty minutes.
That’s one of the reasons why I want my husband to have the confidence to execute bath time on his own. In the spirit of equal opportunity parenting, here are some tried and true tips to empower your partner to give the baby a bath solo.
1. Make it a partner activity
When our firstborn came along, my husband had three consecutive weeks of parental leave. We were so fortunate to have this time to bond with our girl and figure out what the heck we were doing. However, once he returned to his 14+ hour workdays, I was on my own a lot.
Consequently, I became the bath time boss out of necessity. Thankfully, when he got a new job with better hours, he was home in the evenings more often. Instead of continuing to do a bath on my own, I started delegating parts of the routine to him so he could become comfortable with the process. Most nights, he strips her down to her diaper, while I fill the bathtub. He puts her in the water, while I lay out pajamas. We take turns bathing her, and he lifts her out of the tub while I wrap her in a towel. Splitting the duties 50/50 on a regular basis helps my husband feel much more comfortable taking on 100% of the work to give the baby a bath on the nights I can’t, or don’t want to be, involved.
2. Don’t rush in
Like almost all babies do, our daughter goes through phases on which parent she prefers. For weeks on end, she’ll request “Dada!” over and over, while other times she’s a total Mama’s girl.
During a Mama phase, sometimes she will scream and cry while my husband is on bath duty. In these moments, it’s tempting to rush in and take over, but I consciously don’t unless he expressly asks for my help. As her dad, he is just as capable as I am to soothe, entertain and protect her. If I were to swoop in and unnecessarily intervene, I would inadvertently diminish his role and possibly damage his confidence.
By letting him handle her mini break down, he’s prepared to handle anything that comes his way with or without my presence.
3. Have compassion and address pain points
The first time I asked my husband to give the baby a bath by himself, he was apprehensive. We talked about it and addressed his top concerns, namely:
- What was he supposed to do with her while he prepared the bath?
- How could he keep her warm while transferring her from the tub to the changing table, without me there to wrap her in a towel?
- What if she was too slippery and he dropped her?
All of his concerns were valid. I shared the techniques I rely on when bathing her by myself, and encouraged him to find a method that worked well for him too.
Several months later, my husband is now a pro at how to give the baby a bath. At least once a week, he scoops her up and takes her upstairs for her nighttime routine while I get to relax. By regularly working together and providing each other support, my husband and I both have the confidence and information required to tackle bath time by ourselves when the need arises.
Katie McCall is a lifestyle portrait photographer, content strategist, and producer based in San Antonio, Texas. When she isn’t behind a camera or laptop, she's exploring the world with her husband, darling one-year-old daughter and tiny pup. If you’d like, please follow their adventures on Instagram (@hersideproject)!