Every year National Bubble Bath day is celebrated on January 8th.
I remember the first time we gave my daughter an actual bath. She was 16 days old and I was TERRIFIED! I’d been giving her little sponge baths since we brought her home, but this is a whole different ball game. How was I supposed to hold this little 4lb 14oz slippery baby, support her head, wipe her down and ensure that she was not freezing? Yes my husband and I took the Baby 101 class that shows you how to do everything, but that was all done with a doll. And being in my line of work, the last thing that I wanted to do was contribute to my child not enjoying bath-time.
So we approached this very gently, but very matter-of-fact. I’m a believer in narrating for your child so that they understand what is going on. “[insert baby’s name here] it’s bath time. Mommy/Daddy is going to hold you in your towel while we run the water and make sure it’s the perfect temperature for you. Ok, now it’s time to get into your bath…etc.” Narrating your actions at first may feel a little awkward, but it eventually becomes second nature.
Baths start very simply, with a small, soft washcloth and water. You can use a mild soap sparingly to wash your child, and then use either a cup or a wet washcloth to wash off the soap. Wash one limb at a time, the torso, the face/head and the genitals. Once your child is clean, wrap them in a hooded towel and dry them off. If you want to provide your baby with a little massage, this is a great time to do it. I even made up a little song that my daughter still looks forward to at 18-months old. Whatever you do, make it routine. Children thrive with routines. They come to learn what to expect, which often takes the anxiety of the unknown out of the situation.
As an Occupational Therapist, I often see children that hate bath-time because they hate getting their hair wet, they don’t like the water or they hate the whole ritual because they feel out of control. I can even remember when I was a child there was a period of time when I was about 6 that I refused to wash my bangs because I was afraid of getting soap in my eyes. Some believe these fears are sensory related; I happen to believe that they stem from the fear of the unknown or anxiety. Bearing all of this in mind, as my daughter grew and she became more aware of bath-time, I started incorporating “1-2-3 close your eyes” into our routine. I would say “1-2-3 close your eyes” and then while covering her eyes with one hand, I would pour a small cupful of water over the back of her head, washing away the soap with the other. By 6-months old, when I would say “1-2-3 close your eyes” my daughter would tilt her head up and cover her eyes. She would even begin to smile as she felt the water stream down her face.
As your little one gets older, you can start introducing bath time games, foam alphabet letters and encourage sensory play with shaving cream and bath crayons. Allowing your child opportunities to explore with new toys in the bath tub is a great way to enhance their development.
Anyway, as you are probably aware, there are SO many different baby baths on the market, how do you know which is right for you. I’m not here to tell you which bath you MUST purchase, however I will tell you that from my experience, a bath like the Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Sling-n-Seat tub is ideal. (https://fisher-price.mattel.com/shop/en-us/fp/everything-baby/4-in-1-sling-n-seat-tub-bdy86) I think the thing that drew me to this tub is the fact that it has a firmly attached sling that you can use until your infant is able to safely sit in the larger tub. Slings provide secure support for your infant, allowing you to focus on cleaning and interacting with your child.
The most important thing to remember about bath-time, other than NEVER leaving your child unattended or taking your eyes off of your bathing child, is that it should be a calming interactive activity. Don’t worry that you’re doing it wrong. As long as you are safe and your child comes out ‘clean’, you’re ok!