Studies have shown that bath time is critical for your little one’s cognitive and emotional development. All the senses that are engaged during this special time encourage their brain to really focus and pay attention.
The feel of the water on their skin, watching water pour and drain, playing with bubbles, smelling soothing scents, and most importantly, the time for touch. Experts have also found that baths can de-stress and relax your baby to promote a good night’s sleep.
Gently rubbing your baby’s skin in the bath “slows down the physiology, so it slows heart rate, it slows blood pressure, it changes brain waves in the direction of relaxation. So it’s basically a relaxation kind of response that occurs to having pressure receptors stimulated,” says Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine.
So fill those bathtubs for playing and learning, and maybe even getting a full night’s sleep (fingers crossed!).
Here are tips to help make bath time the best it can be:
- Pick a time of day when your little one is calm, rested, and isn’t hungry. Baths don’t have to always be a part of the bedtime routine. If your baby is the most alert and happy in the mornings, try it then. Or even after a nap and a messy lunch.
- Try different water temperatures. Maybe your little one likes the bath a little warmer or cooler. Most of the time, it helps to make the water a little warmer.
- Warm up the bathroom with a space heater if it’s cold so it can be as comfortable as possible.
- Introduce new toys during baths. You can provide bath toys that help them explore the amazing properties of water like our dripdrop cups.
- Try playing music during bath time.
- Take it slow. Some babies (you may have noticed!) do NOT like getting their hair or faces wet; take your time, talk them through it, and if they’re old enough, invite them to try wetting their face a little.
- Incorporate something fun to distract them like bubbles, or letting them watch the water flow from the faucet.
- Get your baby used to water by having them splash some water in a small bowl or from the faucet with their hands and feet.
- Get in there with them! Once your little one has transitioned to a full tub, there’s nothing like playing in there with them. Blow bubbles in the water, splash gently (or close the curtain for more intense splashing if they’re into it!), and get close.
- Have everything you need ready—towels, soap, fresh clothes, toys—so you’re not scrambling during and after bath.
- If nothing else works, try doing a bath in a sink or try holding your baby and taking a shower. This may or may not make you feel nervous, but it’s always an option to try if you can. Maybe baths just aren’t their thing for now.
Bonus Tip: Use rich vocabulary, even when they’re very young, like “spray,” “drip,” “pour,” “drizzle,” “splash,” and “slippery”.
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