Bathing Kids with No Bathtub

Parent Q&A

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  • Tub in Shower?

    (4 replies)

    Hi, My family is moving into a new home with no bathtubs.  We have a 2 year old and 3 month old.  We are not in a place to do a renovation and are looking for what has worked for others to create a bath space in a shower - inflatable pool, large rubbermaid, etc.  Thanks for any advice!

    We used our kitchen sink during our remodel when we had no bathtub. Our kids were 2 and 4 at the time and they loved it!

    We actually used the kitchen sink for a while. Then we used an infant tub in the shower. Replacing the standard shower head with a hand held shower head eased the filling process.  After they got big enough to stand the kids started taking showers. 

    I grew up in a home with no bath and my mom got two large square clothes storage boxes (like you would get at target) and we took baths in gen until age 8-10. Super fun my mom figured out how to get two of them in the shower so my sister and I could still take baths together. We did this in our shower for the first two years before we moved to a house with a bath with my daughter. Saves water and she is just as happy (and big baths were a super treat)

    When my son was an infant we used one of those flexible plastic storage tub with handles (now we use it to store toys). Then for a couple years we used an inflatable duck bathtub (used a scoop for rinsing hair). Then now that he's 3 he sits on a plastic non-skid stool and we use a hand-held shower to bathe him (he has fun using it too).

Archived Q&A and Reviews


No bathtubs - Child has outgrown plastic container

April 2006

We live in a townhouse wiht two showers and no bathtub. We've been using plastic containers to bath our child, but now he's 35.25 inches and outgrowning our containers. I'm not sure I can find one large enough. Has anyone else had to deal with this issue and if so did you try showering, using an inflatable kiddie pool in the shower, etc.? how did it work out? K.

The kitchen sink! My 5 year old still likes a (now very messy) ''sink bath'' once in a while. Easy, fun & cheap! Keley

You should check out the Kel-Gar Snug tub deluxe. It is an inflatable tub that we use since we have no bathtub either. I got it at Right Start in Walnut Creek but you can get it online too, and I'm sure if you call around other stores carry it also. We got the one with the ducks on it, has a little squeaky duck on one side, and three rings on the other that are removable. Sooo cute. It took just a few minutes to inflate. I put it on the floor in the bathroom during bath time and put towels down in case of splashing, then it hangs up on our shower wall with suction cups the tub has on the bottom, when not in use. As you can tell I love it, one of the best things I bought. Its big too, my baby is only 11 months, but she is very big and tall for her age, and she still has lots of room, so it should work great with a toddler too. Leeaht

We only have a stall shower and no tub so what we did was buy one of those old fashioned steel wash tubs at Orchard hardware. At bathtime, we put the tub in the stall shower and fill it up with the shower head. We then put him in and he has a blast bathing with his toys, splashing, etc. (If he needs more hot water to warm up the bath, we use a pot to get some from the sink and pour it into the tub.) After the bath, while one of us gets our toddler dressed, the other empties the tub, dries it with a towel and puts the tub back in our guest room where we store it. it only takes a minute for set up, drying and putting away. This really works well for us. Anon

9-month-old and apartment without a bath tub

June 2005

Hi - My husband, 9 month old, and I are thinking about moving into an apt without a bathtub (just a shower.) I am concerned about how I am going to bath my son. Does anyone have any experience bathing a baby/toddler without a tub? The apt has a single sink. It doesn't seem like a reason not to take this place (it's great) but I need to figure out how to manage the bathing. I would love any suggestions. anon

Hi, We having been living without a bathtub for about a year now. I have two children ages 5 and 3. Our shower is fairly large so we purchaed one of those big plastic totes/bins with the rope handles. You can get them at hardware stores, target, etc.(They cost about $5 usually) We just fill that with water and wash the kids in it. They are getting a bit big for it now, especially since they like to bathe together. But over all it has worked very well. The water is pretty deep if you fill it all the way up, but you can put whatever amount of water you are comfortable with. It has been a good solution for us and the kids think it is fun because it is different than the tub they were used to. jovialdragon

Were it just adults, that would be one thing. But with an infant who will soon be a toddler and then a kid? I suppose the question is how long do you plan to stay in this great apartment? I personally think you're crazy to consider living in a place with a child that has no tub, and I think you'll regret the decision over time (becoming a huge resentment). Any portable tub is going to be less than great (except for small infants). Water play is not only important, but a great activity for little ones. A portable tub won't give you that. It's a darn good reason not to take the place, actually. Kids need tubs. The place is not great, like you said, if it doesn't accomodate the people living in it. -Votes for continuing your search

When a child is little, one can use a plastic bathing thing. I have a friend who took his kid in the shower with him. He'd hold the child in his arms and bath him. They both found it to be fun and a nice ritual. JM

Hi, we have a tub at our house and occasionally bathe with our daughter (now 11 months old) but we have mostly showered with her since she was a newborn... By your son's age it should be no problem since he is probably pretty sturdy and sitting on his own. .. I would just put down a non-skid mat in the shower and if you are comfortable with carrying him you could hold him in the shower, wash him quickly and yell for your partner when you are done to come and get him and get him dressed while you enjoy a longer shower. If you are nervous about him slipping you can get a mesh or solarveil sling that is made for water or even just take a baby towel on with you and use it as a non-slip barrier around his back... The other option is to sit him in front of you with a pile of bath toys in front of him and stand with your feet in a v and his butt between your feet as a back rest. Finally if it is warm enough you could just sit on the floor of the shower with him and consider gettin! g a hose shower head with a second Aki

Haven't lived in a place without a bathtub, but we have taken our kids into the shower with us and its fairly easy. Just be careful as your child can be a bit slippery with the soap, our 17th month old will now stand in the shower and wash, and our 5 year old now loves to shower. We always stay close by just in case. If possible change the showerhead to one of those removable kind that either can be raised or lowered on a rod or you can simply hold for the child, so the spray is closer to them. Depending on how young, there are also simple blow-up bathtubs that are really inexpensive, can be hung on the wall or deflated when not in use, that we found lasted a long time, provided the cushion needed and was portable for trips! Good luck and go for it! Jill

We have a bathtub that drips and so we don't use it. Instead we either have my son (16 months) sit on the floor in the shower while one of us showers or I put the baby bathtub in the shower and just sit on the floor outside the shower and play with him in it. It has worked out just fine both ways. Good luck. Laurel

Handheld shower attachment! We use it all the time with our 11 month old and have since he could stand up. Ours is in the tub, but you could probably make it work for the stall too. It's great for Code Brown ( aka Poop explosion)protocol too! mother of a shower boy

We moved into an apartment with no tub when my son was 13 months old. We bought a larger size bath mat and kept it in the shower with us. He would sit on the mat and play with his toys while I showered (pointing the water more down than usual). I would then bathe him and pick him up in my arms for a rinse. I repeated constantly for him to stay on the mat. I then turn off the water, towel dry in the shower then pull him out and dry him off. Have 2 towels ready right there so you don't have to leave him alone.

We moved to our new house when he was 19 months old and it has an extra big soaking tub. He won't go in there as he still prefers to ''sowaa on ta mat Mama''.

You will work it out fine, just another thing to get used to. Its definitely worth it if its a ''great'' place otherwise. DiAnn

While it's not ideal and obviously has some inherent risks (but then, so do bathtubs), with a 9-month old, you can probably manage the shower-bath just fine. Here's how I used to do it: Get the shower started, water at right temp, etc. I sat on a plastic patio chair, in the shower, put a towel on my lap (so my baby wouldn't slip off). I rigged a little bag that hung off the arm of the chair to held baby soap and shampoo, so all supplies were handy. Hold your baby close to you while soaping -- mine would sit-stand against my chest -- one hand holding baby firmly; the other hand soaping/washing. Initially I wore a bathing suit or t-shirt in the shower and used a terry washcloth mitt in my HOLDING hand -- it helped keep baby from slipping, but later, as my baby became more physically stable, we both showered in buff. The first few times we bathed like this, my husband was there the whole time, to ensure our baby's safety. Once she got used to the idea, however, she really liked showering with me and we didn't need supervision. We had lots of good ''skin-to-skin time;'' it was a time for lots of kisses, singing together, etc., and it turned out that wetting/rinsing her hair was much easier in the shower than in the tub. And then, as she got older, we'd just both stand up in the shower together, and those times were REALLY fun. (btw, for added security, while your baby is small and less stable on your lap, you could probably find some kinds of blow- up toys (small rafts?) to put on the floor of the shower so that IF the baby were to slip...) Alison

We travelled abroad visiting friends who did not have a bathtub, and their solution (''they'' are a Mom and her then 5-year old daughter) was to have a large Rubbermaid- like storage container that they kept in the bathroom, under the shower head, and filled it up from the shower. It was big enough for two kids, actually, and both of our children bathed happily in it together. After the bath, we just dumped it down the drain and propped it against the wall to dry. Super easy. Tara

You could get a handheld showerhead attachment and use it to fill up an infant tub in the bottom of the shower stall. Carrie

Would one of those small inflatable bathtub inserts fit in the shower? Maybe it would work to put one on the bottom of the shower, keep the door open, and bathe the baby that way? Karen

Before we remodled our bathroom, we only had a shower. What I did to cope with 2 babies was this:

#1- get a nice big rubbermaid storage tub with a lid. I bought an expensive plastic baby bath but found it easier to just hold them while I washed them in the tub/bucket/thingie. We still use it years later for out door stuff, while the 'baby bath' was useless and in the way immediately.

#2- at the hardware store, they have these shower hoses that only cost $12. and screw right on to your shower nozzle. I used a hair pony tail bound rubber band to hang it up over the nozzle spout for use as a shower as our old wall was too funky for the holder that comes with it. It worked. So, you just have the hand held shower on the shower floor with the tub and stuff with the towel near by, turn on, get your baby, cuddle & wash, wrap, turn off, come back asap & dump.

#3- This is optional and fun. I discovered there are these cheap garden hose connecters you can get also at the hardware store. Just unscrew the filter trap on your kitchen sink, screw on the connecter male end, Get garden hose, screw on female end, connect the two, run hose out door or window into kiddie pool and viola! Hot tub! We have had a lot of fun with that and still do it a lot even though we have a bathtub now. Neccesity breeds a lot of fun!

My sister-in-law had an apartment without a bathtub with 3 kids. She put one of those little hard plastic kiddy pools in the floor of the shower and filled it up for a bath for the kids. It fit perfectly, and worked fine. Now's a good time to find one at Target or Walgreens. Measure your space and go shopping! Good luck. anon

Hi there, I have the same dilema for our 11 month old. We are going to be re-modeling our bathroom with a tub and our other bathroom only has a shower. I haven't tried it yet, but I have an inflatable bathtub that she uses right now. I was thinking of putting that on the floor of the shower and filling it up with water. That way she will still be in the tub, and I can kneel outside the shower and not get as wet. Hope this helps! Jen

My best friend bathed her kids in the kitchen sink. She had a tub, but it was much easier on her back to use the kitchen sink. I think she did this until they were three or even four. I thought it was a great idea. Fran

You can get a hand-held showerhead at any bath store or hardware store and it usually is fairly easy to install it yourself. Makes bathing and showering easier, even with a tub. When the baby gets older he/she can hold the showerhead and control the water him/herself, and that can make it more fun for them too. mom of 2 waterbabies

A friend of mine who lives on a sailboat with her son used a large plastic storage bin to bathe her son. They had a hose hooked up to the showerhead and filled it that way. Store toys in it and cover with lid until next bath!! go for it!!

Bathing toddler in tub-less home

Feb 2003

My 13-month old daughter has just about outgrown baths in the kitchen sink, and she's way too squirmy to take into the shower. Without a bathtub in our home what can we do? Is there some sort of baby/toddler tub that will work easily in a shower stall? MEG

we also live in a tubless home and have done very well with the snug tub (available in baby world and toys r us). it's an inflatable tub with a drain plug on the bottom. they also have the snug tub deluxe which is a bit larger for older toddlers (i found that one online). Claire

I got a handy and super cheap kid tub at ikea. gael

What about a large plastic storage tub? They come in a variety of sizes so you could find one that fits your shower stall. just fill and then dump after each bath. A metal washtub is another option - it might hold more heat. Jen

We used a plastic storage crate that our child could easily sit in as a bathtub for our shower stall. We put it into the shower, filled it about 1/3 way with water, and then let our child sit in there as we bathed her. Advantage: she can use bath toys, and the ''tub'' is shallow enough that you don't need much water and it has walls she can use to hold on to. Also, you have an extra storage crate once she outgrows it! Disadvantage: parents have to maneuver and be in strange positions to bathe the child. If you decide to do this, just check the bottom of the crate to make sure it is smooth - some have bumps and/or pointy pieces of plastic in the center that are probably not the best to sit on. Creative Bather

There are a couple different kinds of inflatable tubs that might work; most are designed to fit snugly in a regular tub, for kids old enough to sit alone but too small to let loose in a full-size tub. One might fit well in your shower stall, depending on the size. Karen

We use the biggest size Rubbermaid storage bin we could find. Our daughter is 2 and she has never known different--it has worked so far, though I wonder what we'll do as she grows bigger. Sometimes she'll let us rinse her off with ''rain''--the shower head. Our hope is she'll get used to that and convert to showers by the time she's too big for the box. Rachel