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Building confidence when bathing baby and toddlers

Bathing wee babies is frightening and daunting to begin with but you will become an expert in it as time goes on. At this stage it is about making sure you have a hold on them firmly and have everything on hand close by so there is no need to want for anything.

Cradle your baby’s head with one arm, supporting baby’s head and neck with the other arm. Gently lower your baby into the bath, feet first, keeping a close hold at all times. Supporting your baby’s head, lay baby down in the bath so the back of baby’s head is submerged. Gently splash some water onto baby’s head - this will get them used to the feeling of water near their face.

Remember to “Let it Go’: No we are not talking about that song from Frozen, we are talking about ignoring ALL distractions such as texting; answering the phone; and ignoring someone at the door wanting your attention.  Ignore all distractions even short ones – it’s not worth the risk as a baby or toddler can slip below the water in an instant.

Devote all your time to your baby and child. It is a special time so spend it together by being in the moment.

Gather all your equipment - A bathmat prevents your child slipping into the bath.  Water Safety New Zealand in conjunction with Plunket distribute to new parents a special branded bathmat which contains a great message on keeping your child safe in the bath. Bath rings, seats and other contraptions are dangerous and should not be used as child can slip out of a seat or ring or be held under the water by them. They are not worth the risk.

Keep your child at arm’s reach always - The younger the child, it should be skin to skin contact when bathing. As they age be ready to grab at any moment.

So enjoy bathing your child – it can be an opportunity for some one on one time together.

Bathmat campaign

Water Safety New Zealand has run a successful bathmat campaign using the humble mat to change the way New Zealander's are bathing their little ones.

Findings of a ten-year study into a social marketing campaign to parents and caregivers via a humble child’s bathmat has found that it has been instrumental in the positive change to water safety attitude, researchers say. 

The campaign, which involves Plunket Nurses distributing a bathmat that has water safety message printed on it, received praise from parents and caregivers who took part in a survey that measured its success. 

The bathmats are printed in English and Te Reo and remind parents and caregivers to ‘Always supervise children near water – always!’ and are distributed at a child’s five month Well Child visit. Key water safety messages are also discussed at a child’s nine month visit and parents are also exposed to water safety promotional material via a poster when they visit their Plunket Rooms each time.  

In 2019, a sample of recipients said the bathmat campaign was instrumental in reminding them of the key water safety message. 

Researchers also found that recipients were able to recall the message on the bathmat and other water safety messages that were communicated to them at the various Plunket visits. 

At five months a baby begins to sit up and it was decided to introduce the bathmats then as a way of preventing slippages in the bath.  

Research into drowning statistics shows that adult supervision is critical to a child’s safety and that a moments inattention can result in a drowning in relatively small amounts of water. 

Thee bathmat campaign has been running for ten years and during this time there were 54 drowning deaths were recorded of children aged birth to five years. Most children perished in home pools followed by ponds and baths. 

Eighty six percent of all under five drownings were children aged 2 or under and nearly half of those drownings were children aged 12 to 23 months – just at a time when they are up and mobile. 

Active supervision is vital to prevent drownings and in all cases above could have been prevented with parents and caregivers closely watching their children. 

Water Safety New Zealand and Plunket will continue to distribute and run the campaign in the future. 



We're working with Plunket to reach parents, providing free bathmats to families at their Core 4 visit.

Keep baby safe with a Bathmat

The Plunket ‘water safety’ bathmat, is supported by Water Safety New Zealand. Bathmats are also delivered to whanau through iwi and Well Child Tamariki Ora providers. Bathmats are delivered to parents of infants five to seven months old. Approx 30,000 bathmats are delivered annually to whanau across the country.

Always use your Plunket Bathmat when bathing baby and be water safe.

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