When bathing a child (particularly a baby under or around 1 year old, who can not stand on their own yet) is there an effective way to clean all of their body parts that are usually submerged under water? What I mean by this, is that regardless of the type of bathtub you use (or sink), the bottom parts of their body (their butt, legs and privates) will be submerged under water. This makes them complicated to clean. You can try lifting them up out of the water to clean those parts, and all around them, but this is difficult to do on your own, and if the child squirms you are at risk of dropping them in the water face first. You can also hold them against you, but then you have to be ready to get soaked yourself. You can simply resort to leaving them where they are, but then you are just wiping them with a wet rag (all of the soap gets diluted once the rag goes in the water) and plus its still difficult to get into all the rolls/cracks/crevices this way. When they are an infant its a little bit easier, since they move less, and you can put them on the slanted portion of the bath, but the difficulty still holds there too.

Is there a better way?

  • 2
    I never did this, just having them sit in water made them clean? I also honestly don't believe soap is necessary for an small child.
    – Ida
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 15:11
  • In case it's not clear, edit added the detail of age - around 1 year old, cannot stand yet.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 17:28

3 Answers 3


We had a wonderful midwife who showed us a very neat trick for turning our baby safely onto her front while bathing. I couldn't effectively describe it, but it basically involves cupping the baby's head carefully in your hand, and gently lift and turn the baby, ensuring their nose and mouth is to the side and well clear of the water. They love being on their front and will have a good kick and splash with their hands at the same time. It also gives easy access to clean their little bottoms.

Some other tips. You'd want to get their bottom reasonably clean with a nappy wipe before putting them in the bath. Also we always gave ours a rinse off with clean water after lifting them out, to remove any soap residue and any other gunk that might have ended up floating about in the water. This can be hard to do on your own though. If at all possible try to have a helper for bath time.

What you could do though if you need to wash the baby by yourself. At the end of the bath, let the water out, and then rinse off with the plug out. One of those little hand shower things that attaches to the tap is invaluable for this.

Finally lots of parents eventually decide that baths are too much work, and instead opt to take the little one into the shower with them. This tends to be easier for slightly bigger babies, like 6 months.

  • Showers definitely work well for babies who like them - they're easy to do if the baby likes them, as long as you keep them warm.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 14:40
  • 3
    "One of those little hand shower things that attaches to the tap is invaluable for this." +1 Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 3:43
  • If by hand shower thing you mean a shower hose (often come attached to the main shower head and can be taken off and sprayed about), those are a great investment with kids. My three year old used it to clean himself off from poopy accidents.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 17:30

For an infant, I don't recommend submerged bathing: I like the kind where you have a foam "bathtub" insert either in the sink or in the bathtub, and you just use soapy water to clean them.

Once they're older than infants (ie, can fully support themselves) then it's not particularly hard in my experience. Bubble baths help this a lot: then they're submerged in soapy water, and if they're playing in that for 20-30 minutes, odds are you don't have to do very much to clean them at all - a little underwater wipe is sufficient.

In general, you don't really have to sterilize or sanitize this area; it's not going to be touching anything other than a diaper or underwear, and germs aren't going to crawl up and do anything other than help digest your food a bit better. I wouldn't worry too much about the amount of soap getting there - getting off anything solid is important, but if it's not soapy enough, you'll be fine.

  • Though bubble baths are indeed a lot of fun for kids, I recommend limiting them, and giving them lots of floating toys, etc. to keep them entertained while the parent does the washing. The detergent used for bubble baths is especially hard on the urethra. Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 3:46
  • Hmm. Didn't know that. Thanks.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 4:02
  • @anongoodnurse That's good to know, but I'd like to know more. Do you have a link for that? I'm not sure what search terms to use there.
    – user11394
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 18:59
  • We also used a baby bath instead of a full tub/submerged, until he grew out of it. We have a collapsible baby tub that has inflatable ends that can also be adjusted to be inclines. Putting him front-down on the incline presented no problems. However, a 1 year-old is probably too big for the inclines.
    – user11394
    Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 19:02
  • 1
    @CreationEdge - Here's just a search.. Commented Apr 17, 2015 at 19:28

The strategy we used with my son when he was smaller was to do a two-stage bath.

First, we'd start off with a small amount of water that was very soapy, and use that to scrub his genitals and butt (in that order) with a small washcloth. The soap was in the water, not the rag. I can't say we had any issue with other crevices or rolls, though. Everything else was accessible while holding him upright/sitting. After scrubbing, we'd drain the water and rinse him off with some plain, warm water, usually by filling up a bath cup and pouring it over him.

Second, we'd fill the tub back up, but this time to a normal "full" amount and without the soap. We used a baby tub inside our normal tub, so it was a very quick process. After that, we'd have a normal "bath time" that was primarily play/interaction with some gentle cleansing.

Our son did (and still does) love to play with the water coming straight from the faucet, which kept him entertained during that brief lull. When he was tiny, and couldn't sit up by himself, he'd kick at the stream with a big grin on his face. (While doing this, I always kept my hand directly underneath the faucet. 1) It let me make sure a safe, comfortable temperature of water was coming out. 2) It spread out the water more gently and evenly than the faucet would do naturally.)

  • Scrub? That's a sensitive area. Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 6:28
  • 1
    Not that sensitive. Don't use rough cloths if you're worried.
    – user11394
    Commented Apr 18, 2015 at 14:33

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