The best baby bath tubs, toys, seats and accessories 2017

It’s on TV so it must be true: babies just love water and can’t get enough of it. Sadly what’s true in the wonderful world of advertising isn’t necessarily the case in the real world, and babies can kick off in spectacular style if the water temperature isn’t just right or they don’t feel too comfortable.

A baby bath thermometer sorts out the first issue, but what about the second? The answer is to find the right bathing accessories to keep baby comfortable and for older babies, to keep them entertained.

It’s easy to end up with a huge pile of plastic tat, but before you head off to your nearest baby emporium it’s worth considering whether a simpler option might be more effective. By all means get baby a custom-moulded baby bath made from the same materials as a formula 1 car, but it might be wise to try a fabric support first. We know from experience that sometimes the most expensive baby accessories are the ones left gathering dust in a corner, or left for us to trip over in the wee small hours. And don’t forget to clean any bath accessories properly: anything that water can get into is a place where germs can flourish.

1. Fabric bath support

Sometimes the simplest options are the best

Really cheap
Really works
Won't last forever
Remember to wash it

There are all kinds of goodies designed to make baby’s bathtime a relaxing affair, but you don’t really need something engineered like a race car or a block of foam that’ll quickly attract mould. This simple, washable support comes in a range of pastel shades, enables you to keep baby’s head out of the water and it isn’t cold to the touch: dunk it in the bath before you put your baby in and it’ll be the same temperature as the water. Getting the fabric back on after a clean can be a bit of a challenge - this isn’t something you want to tumble dry - but we’d definitely recommend trying this option before splashing out (sorry!) on something more expensive.

2. Safety 1st Swivel Bath Seat

Keep baby contained without tears or tantrums

Really hard to escape from
Sticks to bath well
Will be outgrown quickly
Some colour options are vile

Somewhere around the six months mark, bathtime becomes more like a battle: baby wants to sit up, not lie down, so your existing bath support is no longer capable of containing him or her. This could well be the answer: provided your baby isn’t on the small side this seat works rather like a baby swing seat, with the child’s legs either side of a central bar and a backrest to lean against. It’s easy to get in and out of and fixes firmly to the bottom of the bath but beware soapy residue, which can make the plastic awfully slippy. And like any baby bath accessory, don’t leave the child unattended at any point. The seat’s there to make your life easier, not replace your hands.

3. TummyTub

It looks like a bucket, probably because it’s a bucket

Great for newborns and infants
Very clever
It's a bucket
A really expensive bucket

We know what you’re thinking. It’s a bucket. And yes, it does look rather similar to something you’d expect a plasterer to carry. But the Tummy Tub is much smarter and more useful than it looks. Because it’s mainly vertical it requires less water than a typical horizontal tub, and the handles and non-slip base prevent unwanted movement and spills. It’s designed for infants of up to 6 months and offers a womb-like bathing experience; reviews suggest that a tiny proportion of babies absolutely hate it but it’s a godsend for babies who don’t like traditional baby baths. Yes, it’s a lot of money for a glorified bucket - but it’s not a lot of money if it means happy bathtimes.

4. Tippitoes Top and Tail Bowl

Perfect for babies who aren’t quite ready for the bath

Three compartments
Easy to keep clean
It's quite big
It' isn't grey

With three separate compartments the Tippitoes Top and Tail bowl is ideal for cleaning newborns’ faces and bottoms - the latter last - as there’s room to keep your clean water, clean cotton wool buds and used wool buds separate. When your baby’s old enough for bathtime the bowl is still useful as an organiser for your various changing essentials. The only real niggle is that the promo photos make it look like it’s dark grey on the outside and white inside; that’s a shadow, not a design element. The whole thing is ivory coloured. It’s also worth noting that Tippitoes’ bowl is one of the larger ones you can buy: it’s 40 x 24 x 11cm.

5. Tomy Aquafun Octopals

Lots of fun for older babies’ bathtime

Lost of fun
Little ones are water pistols
Not suitable for under-1s
You're going to get wet

There’s no shortage of bath toys for babies, but many of them are of limited interest and just end up taking up room at the end of the bath. If you’ve ever spent a packet on an all-singing all-dancing toy that promises not just to entertain your baby but turn them into a little Einstein as they bathe then you’ll know that most such things end up turning a funny colour before ending up in the bin. The solution? As you’ll see at any family pool, the answer is always squirty toys - especially brightly coloured squirty toys that older babies can blast their parents with. Tomy’s offering here is particularly good fun, with a mummy or daddy octopus for water pouring and eight babies that stick to tiles and squirt water.