I’m really, really big on self-care for parents.
Taking care of babies and toddlers is so incredibly hard that it’s absolutely crucial that you find any way you can to make some time for yourself.
Some folks will encourage skipping showers when you’re alone with the baby, opting instead for wipes, dry shampoo, and extra deodorant so you never have to leave their side.
I say fooey!
Here are my best tips and advice for how to find time to shower when you’re alone with a newborn or toddler.
If you feel like you have no time to shower with a newborn, you’re not alone. There’s no easy answer, but you’re likely going to have to do something a little uncomfortable, like letting baby cry for a few minutes alone in the crib. You can also bring baby into the bathroom with you in a bouncer or bassinet! But he still might not be super happy about it.
I just want to encourage you to, as long as baby is safe, do whatever you need to do to make yourself feel OK, to feel like a person. You deserve it, and you need it.
Let’s take a look at some more tips about how to shower when you’re alone with your baby or toddler.
Why is it so hard for new parents to shower?
If you haven’t lived through it yet, it seems ridiculous.
New parents can’t find 10 minutes to rinse off in the shower? What on Earth?
But it’s true. Just ask any parent and you’ll find that it’s way harder than it has any right to be.
Why? Because parents have a laundry list of things to take care of that often take priority over self-care.
Babies, especially newborns, simply can’t be left alone and unsupervised.
So if you’re alone with your baby, it’s almost impossible to do anything. It actually gets harder and harder as they become more mobile, from crawlers to early-walkers. You can’t turn your back on them for a second!
So how are you supposed to spend 15 minutes alone in the shower?
Yes, baby will go to sleep at some point, either for a nap or a longer sleep in the evening. They may even sleep through the night from a fairly young age.
But you simply can’t put off your entire life until baby is asleep. Those precious hours can only handle so much eating, cleaning, showering, work, leisure, etc.
You’ll be behind on meals, the house will be a wreck, you’ll need to sterilize bottles and wash baby’s clothes, and you’ll have chores and work to catch up on before baby wakes up and you start the cycle all over again.
Self-care is often the first thing to go for new parents who are short on alone time.
But luckily, while there are no easy answers or silver-bullet solutions, there are a couple of things that can help you find time to shower alone with a newborn.
1. Shower with your newborn
Did you know you can actually take a shower WITH your baby?
This is a fantastic solution and can even be a bit of a time-saver. It’ll also be super helpful if your newborn is fussy about getting in the bath, which not all babies love.
A couple of tips:
Don’t make the water too hot. Use colder water than you would for your own shower.
You may want to consider wearing grippy gloves or even a waterproof sling. Baby can get slippery in the shower and you don’t want to risk a drop.
(Having a partner available to take clean baby and wrap him in a towel comes in handy, too.)
Don’t shower with your baby too often. You can shower with a newborn who’s older than 2 weeks (or once the umbilical cord stump has fallen off), and you can do this once or twice a week, tops.
The downside of co-showering is that it will be really difficult to clean yourself properly! And your shower won’t be relaxing at all.
So this doesn’t really count as solo shower time. It’s more of a fancy bath for baby that includes some extra skin-to-skin bonding.
2. Use a bouncer or portable bassinet right outside the shower
If you’re not keen on having baby out of your sight, bring a sitting/lying device right into the bathroom with you.
This is especially great if you’ve got a glass shower so baby can see you the whole time!
If not, you might consider playing Peekaboo through the shower curtain for a little fun to comfort the baby.
We used to do this all the time when our kids were little. Use a bouncer that baby can be buckled into so you know they’re completely safe and won’t fall out.
They may get upset, but knowing that you’re right there with them the whole time should put everyone at ease while you rinse off.
3. Shower when baby is napping
This is the obvious answer, but as I mentioned above, it can be harder to put into practice than you’d think.
When baby goes down for one of those precious naps, chances are you’ll need to clean bottles or prepare food, wash dishes, pick up the house, work on laundry, and a million other chores.
If you are able to take a little time for yourself, you might be torn between exercise, reading, watching TV — whatever you like to do to unwind.
Obviously, you can’t do EVERYTHING during that short nap time.
But I just want to encourage you to make time during naps for a long, hot shower when you can. Don’t feel guilty about it, don’t beat yourself up for not doing chores!
(Hot showers do more than just clean you. They help with stress, promote better sleep, and encourage healthy skin.)
The chores will be there later. This might be your only quiet downtime to take care of yourself.
4. Leave baby somewhere safe and let him cry it out
Some parents just can’t allow themselves to do this, and that’s OK.
But sometimes it’s your only solution:
Place baby in the crib or pack ‘n play, or buckled up somewhere safe (like a bouncer or swing), and go take care of yourself.
Yes, he will probably cry at your absence if he’s not asleep. But crying for a few minutes won’t scar him for life, I promise. As soon as you’re done and can give him a cuddle, he’ll forget he was ever upset.
Self-care is too important. If you don’t make time for yourself, you’ll burn out and start to resent everyone and everything.
Place the baby monitor just outside the shower so you can check in if you want. Just try to be relatively efficient and not take too, too long.
And beware of the phantom cries!
A lot of new parents, and especially moms, will swear they hear their baby screaming and crying, only to run and check on them, and they’ll be fine. Anxiety and fear is cranked way up in new parents, so just remind yourself that baby is fine without you for just a few minutes.
5. Enlist help from a partner or older child
I know this is an obvious one, but you would be surprised how many parents and partners don’t ask each other for the help they need.
I know I’ve personally struggled with this. Sometimes it feels like a major imposition to leave my partner alone with the kids so I can do something for myself, especially on hard days.
But make sure you communicate about it, and practice asking for time for yourself without guilt. And try not to make your partner feel guilty when they ask for a little alone time to shower or exercise!
It really makes a big difference.
If you have an older child, you can enlist them to keep baby company somewhere safe (crib, pack ‘n play, bassinet) and keep a watchful eye for you while you take a shower.
6. Showering with a toddler? Turn the bathroom into a play zone
Now you run into trouble when that baby grows into a toddler and, God forbid, drops the nap.
Now you’ve got a wild child who can’t be left alone and never sleeps. I’ve been there!
One thing that has worked for us is bringing our toddler into the bathroom with us and laying out toys, puzzles, or games on the floor. Even a comfy chair for her to sit in.
With a toddler who’s old enough, you can explain what’s going on: “I’m going to be in the shower for 5 minutes, you can sit here and play with your puzzles until I’m done, and I’ll be right here if you need me!”
You can talk to each other or sing while you’re in the shower for a little extra entertainment!
If you can be quick about it, this method works pretty well.
And of course, it’s worth a brief mention that sticking your toddler in front of the TV (especially Cocomelon) should buy you plenty of time to rinse off!
Want the TL;DR?
Don’t burn yourself to the ground for your children! Make time for basic self-care like taking a shower.
You may have to ask someone for help, bring baby into the bathroom with you, or let baby cry for 10 minutes.
As long as your baby is safe, don’t feel guilty about taking the time you need. It’s so much more important than you can even realize in the moment.
For more, check out my tips for how to go to the bathroom when you’re alone with a baby.
Hope this helps!