It’s a funny thing. Before our little ones are born into the world, we can’t wait to see how they’ll react to all their “firsts” outside of the womb. Bath time is one of those things. Will they like the water or will they flail their limbs and sob uncontrollably at the very sight of the bathroom?
How a baby will respond to water is pretty unpredictable. For parents whose babies aren’t too fond of tubby time, it can be a stressful time. Moms and dads everywhere can relate to water-logged clothes and bathrooms covered in bubbles. As the splashing commences and the resulting mess ensues, it can wear on a tired parent’s nerves.
As our patience wanes, it’s important to try to keep our cool. Remember, babies can sense stress and anxiety in their parents and they’ll respond to it accordingly. In other words, a stressed-out parent produces a stressed-out baby.
Fear not new parents, bath time doesn’t have to turn into a swamp land nightmare. It’s a time when parents can bond with their children. Babies can be soothed with water. There may be a few parents out there who find that questionable since their little one starts screaming the instant they turn on the faucet.
Those parents should try their hand at these tips before they give up. Of course, rest assured that there is a silver lining, even if one’s child is completely opposed to the water. They all grow out of it.
Sure, it sounds practical. This is the easiest step in the process, right? Who doesn’t have a baby-sized bath tub on their shower registry? There are cheap mini tubs that parents can opt for. Most offer a cushioned head pad. Any tub a parent chooses should have a protective barrier on the bottom of it to protect against skidding.
There are super fancy baby bath tubs out there, too. Some have detachable hoses like a full-size showerhead that allow parents to have a little more mobility with rinsing off and lathering up. Is that necessary when the baby’s entire tub is only a few feet long? Probably not. Are bubbling jets necessary for a newborn? Not exactly.
If mom and dad don’t even have a luxury tub, there’s no need for the baby to have one. Save those pennies for a better swing or crib and buy the cheap tub, because they might not even like it.
When our little ones get big enough to where they are sitting up on their own, tub seats become a realistic possibility. These seats work by gripping to the bottom of the tub for security. Some of them stay put with the weight of the baby alone, but most of them will have suction cups or texturized foam to hold them in place.
Aside from safety features, they serve one purpose: to keep your little one from flipping and flopping all over the bath tub. Yes, while that image of your baby’s first bath seems so calm right now, one day they won’t just lay there and let you wash their hair. Instead, it’ll be a fight, and one you’ll need to be prepared for if you aren’t ready to enter a wet tee shirt contest.
The tub seat is a happy medium. It allows baby some freedom because they’re sitting up and they can still use their hands. It allows moms and dads the luxury of lathering that aby shampoo and rinsing their baby’s body off without tears and wails.
We all remember bath crayons. If you don’t, your parents probably didn’t love you enough. Just kidding. Seriously, though, bath crayons are one of the best bath time distractions in the world. Whoever invented them deserves a Nobel prize.
These colorful crayons allow moms and dads full reign of bath time activities while their little ones stay pleasantly sidetracked with the doodles they’re drawing on the bath tub wall. They’re suitable for vinyl, tiles and ceramic. They rinse right off and no, they won’t stain their hair or skin. Best of all, they allow your baby to start expressing their artistic side at a very young age.
Parents who are worried about chemicals and other ingredients in mainstream bath tub crayons can opt for creating their own. A quick cocktail of glycerin soap and food coloring creates a fantastic bath crayon that you’ll feel safe about soaping your baby up with.
Sometimes, it’s not about what you add to the bath tub, or what tools you use to help distract the baby. Instead, you can use your appropriately placed diffuser to diffuse lavender essential oil into the air. Starting this process slightly in advance of bath time is best. Let the aroma permeate the immediate environment.
Lavender is a great oil for helping to calm the senses and to get baby to relax. This is an even better trick to have up your sleeve if you tend to schedule bath time right before bedtime. Studies show that lavender has both analgesic and relaxant properties. It can soothe even the crankiest of babies. Adding a drop or two of lavender oil to the bath water can also help in this process.
If you find that your little one still isn’t reaping the benefits of this flowery oil, try mixing a drop with a carrier oil — like coconut oil — and rubbing it into the soles of baby’s feet just before bath time.
One of the trickiest parts of bath time is washing baby’s hair. In the early months, it’s a little easier to maintain this regimen. Even for parents of babies who were born with lush, thick locks, the newborn stays fairly still during bath time. They don’t turn their head much, and they certainly aren’t trying to roll over. So, it’s pretty simple to soap them up and rinse them off.
When you’re trying to wash the hair of an angry 8-month old, it’s a different story. Still, what about newborns and little babies who just cry their way through bath time? No parent likes to make them endure this. We want the process to be comfortable and even relaxing for them.
Visors are one of the best ways to make hair washing more tolerable for your little one. It can be difficult to get all those suds out of that fine baby hair without getting any water or suds into the baby’s eyes. An adjustable foam visor fit snuggly to the forehead takes the guess work out of rinsing their sweet little heads.
Sometimes, babies react negatively to water because they feel tense. Sure, to an adult it may seem like sinking into the bath tub is one of the most relaxing sensations in the world. Still, to a baby, this sensation can be scary. Their vestibular sense is still developing in a baby. This sense is what allows them to be aware of their position in space.
Their proprioceptive sense is also still developing. This sense allows them to feel how much pressure is against their body and likewise, how much pressure they need to exert onto other objects. Normal objects require much more exertion than water does. So, the bath tub can be a frightening experience for little babies. It may time them time to warm up to the concept.
Where does the tickling come in? It exercises those core muscles that are involved in sensory developing. It may actually help a tense baby to loosen up and feel more relaxed.
Bert and Ernie got it right the first time. Rubber ducky really was the one. While that tune came to life more than four decades ago, it still rings true. Likewise, the registry staple remains a bath time favorite among children everywhere. One of the most popular duckies now has temperature sensors that gauge the comfort level of the water and let parents know when it’s just too hot.
The ducky is likely so pleasing to children because it doesn’t sink. It floats, and this is a new experience for the baby who has just gotten used to the fascination of toys dropping, or rather, the fascination of being the one who gets to drop the toys.
The rubber ducky and other toys in the bath tub are play time companions. They bring a familiar element of the world babies know outside of the tub into the bathroom. This makes them feel more at home while also distracting them from Mom and Dad pulling on tangles and scrubbing the fuzz out of their neck rolls.
You read that right. Sometimes, what a baby really needs is a change in environment. Making bath time a play time routine can really help a lot of babies to relax more and not take the experience so seriously. Opting for an outdoor bath can completely change the way they look at getting a bath.
If you happen to live in a climate that will allow a comfortable bath amongst nature, take that baby tub outside and let your little one splash around under the sunshine. If you’re feeling really adventurous, yank that baby pool out of the garage early and turn it into a spacious bath tub for the baby!
This will delight your little one and allow them to incorporate more toys, as well as more room for wiggling about in the water. The more comfortable you get them in that H2O, and the more they associate it with fun and play, the better.
Running a little bubble bath under the faucet as the tub fills up could be the solution to all your bath time woes. Most babies love bubbles. Their fluffy and floofy make-up is enough to entertain the majority of little people. Who are we kidding? Even adults love a good bubble bath.
Your baby will delight in watching the piles of bubbles grow higher and higher in the tub as it fills. Swish your hand around and try to engage them in helping to make the bubbles multiply.
While a tub full of bubbles is fantastic fun that we don’t discount, there’s another bubble on the market that might please your little one, too. Blowing bubbles can be great fun during bath time. It’s probably one of the easiest ways to engage in this play time activity, too, because the clean-up is a cinch.
If you’ve never had a baby before, get ready. Bath time is anything but clean. You can expect a total mess most of the time. Even when the baby is still itty bitty, they tend to kick and flail their arms about just enough — usually as a result of reflexes — to make that water swish and slosh onto countertops and floors.
While the towels are on standby to protect the rest of your house, keeping an apron on the back of the bathroom door might be just the ticket to protecting your own clothes while your babe isn’t sporting any. This is even more important when bubbles and bath tub crayons are amiss.
Let your little one enjoy their bath time without stressing over the fact that you have to change your outfit again before you can head out to run your errands for the day. Don’t feel silly. There are parents out there who wear rubber gloves and knee pads during bath time.
Baths can be used for a few things. They can be strictly made for play time. They can be left as a short stop on the way to being cleaned up. They can also serve as a way to invigorate the body and start the day. If you’re really wise, you’ll make sure that bath time slot comes just before bedtime each night.
Alright, most of us aren’t actually washing our babies every night, but this will become a reality as they get older. This makes it all the more important that you get a good routine down now that helps baby to like the water.
Use bath time as a part of your bedtime routine. Let the water help to relax your baby and soothe them into a place of calm and comfort. Afterward, make sure to follow through with the rest of your bedtime routine. That is the key here so that next time you head toward the bath, they know that it’s time to chill out and get ready for sleepy time.
Music is a great calming force. Research has shown that it has many positive effects. Multiple studies have accounted for music providing relief of anxiety and pain in test subjects. What kind of music you use to try to lull a baby into relaxation may matter? This appears to depend on the individual baby.
Some infants respond better in stressed environments to more upbeat music, while others relax easier to the environmental sounds like chirping crickets or slow tunes like smooth jazz. In other words, babies don’t appear to be much different from adults when it comes to musical preferences.
Pressing play on that playlist before stepping into the bathroom and headed toward the tub can help to get the baby in the right mood for bath time. It is important that this routine is incorporated each time. This ensures that the baby knows when they hear this music playing that tubby time is coming next. Helping them to know what lies ahead can make the surprise of undressing and jumping into the water less startling.
This is probably the best bet for parents of babies who just won’t tolerate the water. Those babies that fight back and try to do everything they can to prevent you from putting them into the water might find a sponge bath far preferable to being immersed into the water. The latter is just too terrifying for some tots.
Sponge bathing is easy and still quite effective. It may not be best for big clean-ups, but for minor messes and daily cleaning, it works well. Babies don’t collect much grime, especially before they start eating solids. So, sponge bathing is doable.
Laying a towel or two on a comfy surface — like Mom and Dad’s bed — is the ideal place for sponge bathing. Use a tub of lukewarm water with baby’s favorite soap to soak a sponge or soft cloth and then wash the baby on top of the towels. Mild baby soaps don’t even really require rinsing, but you can with another tub of water if you find it necessary.
Placing baby’s bath tub in front of a mirror during bath time can serve as the perfect distraction for your little one. Anything you can do to help them from focusing on what you’re doing to them is a good idea! They may enjoy watching the bath time activities, but they’ll also likely want to touch the mirror.
For this reason, it’s best to make sure the tub is placed in front of one that is secured to another surface. Typically, mirrors that are atop sink counters in the bathroom work well. Flimsy mirrors that would move when poked aren’t going to be a good idea at bath time when everyone is slippery.
There are tub-friendly and baby-friendly mirrors, too. These are usually made of plastic composite materials. Babies can hold these themselves. Any experienced parent knows how important it becomes for little ones to hold everything as they get older.
Last but not least, parents shouldn’t shy away from stepping into the bath tub with their babies. This is actually a fantastic way to get them used to the water in the first place. In addition, it serves as a bonding experience. It helps your baby to trust the water while also providing a safe place for snuggles.
Incorporate those essential oils and music alongside a joint bath. Run a few bubbles to play in with them. In the early weeks of a baby’s life, mothers are encouraged to bathe with their babies and engage in lots of skin to skin contact to boost their milk supply.
Bath time doesn’t have to be an experience full of torment and pain. Babies can relax and learn to trust the environment around them. It’ll just take some persistence and patience on Mom and Dad’s part. Many babies struggle with bathing regimens and bath tubs. Remember to stay relaxed yourself, and know that this too shall pass.
Sources: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses