Can Babies Use Regular Towels? (Or Do You Need The Hooded Baby Ones)


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When I was a new parent it was difficult to decide which baby bath products I needed and which I didn’t. When it came to bathtime, I wondered if it was okay for babies to use regular towels or if I should buy the special hooded baby towels instead.

Babies can use regular towels but they are too big and will often be soiled by pee or poop after the bath which will fill up the laundry quickly. Having dedicated hooded baby towels will help keep baby warmer, more comfortable, and take up less space in the hamper.

For many parents, a hooded baby towel is absolutely a bath time staple. For others, buying a specific towel for their baby to use for a limited time is an unnecessary expense or an additional piece of unwelcome clutter. Keep reading to find out the pros and cons of baby towels and decide which is best for your household and baby’s needs.

Do you need baby towels?

Bath time with a baby can be a lot of things: sweet, easy, challenging, tear-filled, and, when the warm water hits and nature calls, occasionally kind of gross. I think every parent has harbored a fantasy of a calm and relaxing evening bath that leads directly into cuddly footie pajamas and a peaceful bedtime.

Baby towels are specifically designed with your child’s small body and sensitive skin in mind and are almost universally leaps and bounds cuter than regular adult-sized towels. They also often have hoods to help keep your baby’s head warm, especially during the early months of his life when he’s not able to regulate his body temperature.

When it comes to drying your baby after his bath time, the type of towel you use is mostly dependent on what works better for you and your little one. If you do not have the budget, space, or inclination to purchase special towels that your child will grow out of in just a few years, regular towels can be used with care.

Pros of using baby towels

There are many positive benefits to using dedicated baby towels for your little one.

  • Size – They are much smaller than regular towels, and are easy to wrap and carry babies in without worrying you are cradling more towel than child. Depending on the size of the baby towel you choose, it can take you from birth through early childhood. The smaller size also means that they take up much less room in your laundry basket and washer.
  • Extra Soft – Babies have very sensitive skin, so a new towel is less likely to be rough as you dry your baby. Baby towels tend to be made of the same bamboo, terry cloth, or cotton fabrics that you would find in a regular pile, but they typically have a much lower pile, resulting in a smoother and less plush feeling. While this would normally be considered disappointing in a regular bath towel, it helps to make the baby towel less abrasive and better for patting down your baby’s wet skin.
  • Distinctiveness – You probably already have a gentle laundry detergent to wash your baby’s clothes and bedsheets with, but you should also be washing his towels with it as well. If the towels are specific to your baby, it is much easier to keep from getting them mixed up.

Pros of using regular towels

If you are worried about the cost, there are still many good aspects of using regular towels for your baby’s bathtime.

  • Cost – While there are some very affordable basic towel options for babies, spending no money is always cheaper than spending money! If you do not need to purchase baby towels, that money can be used to buy other items you do need for your baby.
  • Storage – Let’s face it, no one has enough storage space, even before having a baby. After having a baby, entire portions of your bathroom are suddenly lost to tiny bathtubs and special soaps and shampoos (not to mention toys). Choosing to use regular towels on your little one means one less thing you need to find a space for.
  • Interchangeability – Once your first baby comes into your life, laundry day becomes every day, but, somehow, there is always something that is in the wash when you need it. Using regular towels for everyone in the family increases the likelihood that a clean towel will be available when your baby unexpectedly needs a bath.

Do you need hooded towels for baby?

If you choose to purchase baby towels, you should go ahead and get one with a hood.

Because your baby will get cold much more quickly than an older child or adult – especially in the time between the warm bath and cuddly pajamas – it is important to cover his head to keep him warm. While this is possible with a regular towel or flat baby towel, it is much more difficult to keep him covered once the wiggling starts. 

If your child, like mine, goes through a phase where he does not want his head covered (and it is warm enough in the room), you can simply not use the hood until you need it again. 

How do you use hooded towels for babies?

Once your baby is bathed, you will need to dry him as quickly and thoroughly as possible to keep him from either getting cold or developing a rash in the folds and creases where moisture can get trapped. 

For a newborn or young baby who may get cold very quickly, you may choose to give him a sponge bath rather than putting him in a baby tub or sink insert. In this case, rest the hood loosely over his head and drape the towel around the body parts that are not being washed. This will help keep him as warm as possible.

When your child is ready to be placed in the bathwater, you will use the towel very similarly to how you use your own after a bath or shower. It takes a little practice, but the system that worked the best for me is to lay a folded regular towel (for padding and insulation from the cold surface) on the counter with the hooded towel open on top of it. Once my son is done with his bath, I lift him out of the water and immediately lay him down on the towel and slip the hood over his head. After that, it is a pretty straightforward process to pat him dry.

Once your baby is old enough to stand on his own, lift him out of the tub and place the hood directly on his head with the towel draped over his shoulders and pat him dry. 

How long do babies use hooded towels?

Babies only start to regulate their body temperature between 18 and 24 months, so you should use the hooded towels until then to ensure that he stays warm enough.

That being said, many children enjoy the look and feel of the cuddly hood and will want to use a hooded towel for longer. Depending on the size of the towel you have, your child may be able to use his hooded towel until he is five or six years old.

How many towels do you need for a baby?

The number of towels you need depends heavily on how often you find yourself bathing and washing your baby. As very small babies do not need to be bathed every day, but toddlers will probably need (at least) one bath a day, the number of towels you need will increase as your baby grows.

As a general rule, four to five towels should be enough if you are bathing your baby every day and doing laundry twice a week.

How often should you wash baby towels?

Because babies have less developed immune systems, you should always use a clean towel. With that said, there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to how often you should wash the towels.

If you give your baby a quick sponge bath and then just use a towel to dab her dry then you can probably just hang it up and use it again next time. If the towel gets extremely wet or soiled with pee/poop after the bath then you’ll need to go ahead and wash it.

In any case, be sure that you are using a laundry detergent that is designed with a baby’s sensitive skin in mind. In our house, we really love the Puracy brand of baby detergent that you can check out here (it’s also super concentrated so it comes in a much smaller bottle) and the Babyganics detergent that you can check out here.

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Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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