I am sad to even be writing this post, yet it’s a subject which does, apparently, need to be discussed: is it wrong for dads to share a bath with their baby?

When our daughters were tiny, I loved nothing more than to get in the tub with them. I’d strip them off and settle them against my chest, and my hubby and I would marvel at how tiny they were. I’d look in the mirror and be in awe of how perfectly they’d fit in the hollow between my breasts, their little head laid against my sternum and their legs splayed across my middle. Those squishy little baby bottoms are divine peachiness.

Any parent who has held their newborn, naked and tucked up under their chin, will know this wonder and deliciousness.

We have a few treasured photos of these exquisite occasions: special, private memories just for us, captured from those beautifully novel days.

Mum Holding Baby in Towel

Of course, it was only natural for me to suggest my husband may enjoy taking part, rather than simply being the photographer/a bystander – I wouldn’t attempt this without him for fear of dropping our delicate newborns when entering or exiting the water!

But on each of the many times I asked him, he declined.

And I still find it overwhelmingly sad that he missed out on this precious rite of passage. Not least because of his reason.

Is It Weird for Dads to Bathe With Their Babies?

If you’ve not already guessed, my husband chose to forgo these lovely bonding moments with both his baby girls because of perceived connotations. The prevalence of child abuse in our society gave rise to him deeming it inappropriate; or made him uncomfortable at least.

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I am still incredibly wistful, for his sake, of the magic he didn’t get to share in the same way I did. Sure, he cooed over their perfect naked forms with me, and took his turn holding their little bodies on his own chest. He was very up for indulging in skin to skin in those first weeks too.

He just wouldn’t share a bath with them.

In the privacy of our own home, away from prying eyes and judgements – still he felt it wasn’t right.

So, Is It Wrong for Dads to Share a Bath With Their Baby?

Child abuse is an abhorrent scourge on humanity, of course it is. But am I alone in feeling that this level of permeation is robbing some overly-sensitive fathers of one of the most cherishable experiences they could share with their child?

Dad Holding Baby in Towel

Don’t they have just as much right as us mums to rejoice in the profound beauty of their newborn’s nakedness, and immerse themselves in that moving experience? Why should they stop short of taking their adored baby into the tub? What difference does it make?

For me, there’s actually an irony to this tragedy: in avoiding the merest suggestion of wrongdoing, the innocence is removed from an otherwise pure intention. Those doting fathers who prove no threat are some of the very ones forfeiting a privilege of parenthood – in the name of wicked, immoral monsters.

Is it wrong for dad to bathe with their children? Is it fine or inappropriate for dad to jump in the tub for bathtime?

What a great pity that is.

Dads, do you/have you/would you share a bath with your newborn? At what age do you feel it becomes inappropriate? And mums, have your husbands/partners also shown reluctance?

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Parenting

An award-nominated blogger and author, Kate is an experienced breastfeeding advocate, and expert baby sleep chaser. Her writing has appeared on Mothercare, Huff Post, and BritMums.

22 Comments

  1. An imperfect mum (Catie) Reply

    Such a great series this! I loved this line: For me, there’s actually an irony to this tragedy: in avoiding the merest suggestion of wrongdoing, the innocence is removed from an otherwise pure intention. I couldn’t put it any better.

    • Kate Reply

      Thank you Catie! Lovely comments, and I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series. ? xx

  2. Kate Reply

    It really is, it makes me so sad. Good on your husband – I hope I can change my hubby’s mind if we’re lucky enough to have a second.

    Thanks for commenting ? x

  3. Oh I find it so sad that he feels that way. I don’t have any input from a daddy’s perspective, however I do from a grandfather.
    My Dad regularly bathes with my daughter. He puts swimming trunks on; she’s never seen him naked (he and I both do not think that is appropriate). However the laughter that comes from the bathroom is incredible, the floor is always soaked, they are covered in bubbles and to us it’s just the same as going swimming.
    The bathroom door is always open and I’m usually milling around upstairs getting her pj’s etc sorted.
    I still regularly bath with my daughter (aka she jumps in my bath or shower) it’s juat something she’s loves xxx

    • Kate Reply

      That’s so lovely, perhaps I should have suggested trunks to my hubby. I think a part of it is that he genuinely doesn’t know what he’s missing. Xx

  4. Sophie Mei Lan Reply

    Thanks for sharing. that’s so sad he feels that way but understandable sadly. my partner often bathes with our two daughters and I encourage them to do so as bath time is quality time together away from the glares of TV or other distractions.

    It is what feels right for your family. But I think men should feel that they can bond as much as us mums can it’s just sad that they have these worries. xx

    • Kate Reply

      Thanks Sophie. I make you right and I hope second time around might be different. I also wonder whether the same concerns would be there with a boy… Xx

  5. Kate Reply

    Some really good points here, I agree about them knowing what normal is and having a healthy attitude towards our biology and our bodies. Very important for both our girls and our boys.

    Thanks for commenting!

  6. Kate Reply

    It is a shame. I wonder if some of these comments might help him to relax in the future, particularly if we have a second.

    Thanks for your comment, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. ?

  7. My boy is 5 and we both still bath with him on occasion. Bodies are nothing to be ashamed of, we all have the same set of bits and pieces in the end! My cousin didn’t like changing his little girls nappy because of the whole paedophile connotation, which is just so sad. Yes there’s a risk of abuse, but when you know in your heart you aren’t an abuser then you are denying yourself special times due to societies neurosis. Not that a poopy nappy is a special time but you know!!! #bigpinklink

    • Kate Reply

      I absolutely agree. My hubby is not ashamed AT ALL (very proud of his physique, bless him. And rightly so, he works v hard!) Anyway, it’s not about that for him, it’s purely the neurosis thing, which is so sad..

      Thanks for commenting. ?

  8. Jules Furness Reply

    My husband has bathed with our son many times as a baby and as a toddler. Its so sad that because of a dangerous/sick few, many more good men feel tarnished by it. He does often where his boxer shorts in the bath though, and I wear underwear if I bath with him. Thats just personal choice though, not saying everyone should. People should just do what they are comfortable and what they personally feel is right for their child #bigpinklink

    • Kate Reply

      I’m finding it really interesting to hear different points of view. Clearly my husband is not alone, but there are also many variations. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I agree that we have to do what we reach feel is right for our family.

  9. Kate Reply

    Yes, that’s something I’ve wondered too, but I’m not sure he’ll know the answer himself unless we have a boy.

    I think that’s really dreadful that the MIL would interfere in that way. Perhaps age is relevant – but I feel quite confident that the girls would choose to stop before any person in their right mind would say it’s no longer appropriate.

  10. Kate Reply

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Emma. I really agree and hope my husband might feel differently next time round x

  11. Kate Reply

    I’m so glad you managed to talk your husband round – it gives me hope!

  12. Kate Reply

    Yes, I’m very intrigued to see whether sex makes a difference – if we ever go on to have a boy. Which we may not, so I may never know!

  13. Mark Thomas (The Honest Father) Reply

    This is so sad 🙁 I can see why he feels that way though, sometimes I’m hesitant to tell people that I’ve bathed with Evelyn every day since she was a baby.
    She’s 3 now and I decided it’s time to stop not long before her third birthday. Chiefly because she pointed at my bits and said “daddy why are you pooing? “. Enough’s enough there I think!

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      Oh dear… Yes, sounds like that was a good time to knock it on the head! But at least you got to share those special times while she was a baby.

  14. That is sad! What a society. I blame the Daily Mail. Haha. Good lord if you can’t bathe with your own kids what can you do in the privacy of your own home. When does it become too much for dads to be involved with personal care? Is it too much to do nappy changes for little girls?

    • Kate Tunstall Reply

      Ah, see, this is where my husband’s logic is flawed, because he has always done nappies. It is sad though.

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