How To Bond With Your Baby At Bathtime
We get it. At the end of a busy day of feed, change, sleep, repeat, bathtime can be just one more thing on your very long to-do list. Or you might already be beginning to dread a tricky bedtime routine with all its sleep struggles.
But bathtime can be a huge opportunity to stop the noise and the chores, and encourage bonding, exploring and winding down for the day. It’s also a great time for parents who’ve been working all day to spend quality time with their babies.
So what’s so great about bathtime? Here are 4 ways that bath time helps you bond with your baby. They might help iron out a few of those bedtime stresses, too.
It’s Good to Talk
The more familiar your baby is with your voice, the more hearing it will soothe and relax them. This is true at bathtime as well as throughout your daily activities.
- Talk them through what you’re doing: “We’re going to wash your cute little toes!”, for example. No matter how silly you think you sound - babies are notoriously non-judgmental!
- Count everything: This is a great time to get your baby used to hearing numbers and different words.
- Read a story: As long as it’s waterproof, reading your baby’s favourite book each bath time settles them into a routine.
- Sing songs: Music and rhyming help babies learn, and repeating favourite songs encourages a sense of security and familiarity.
- Make allowances for different characters: Some babies will love splashing in the water and playing with bubbles, but some will need a little convincing. Using a soothing voice to encourage them to play can really help.
Learning Through Play
Bath time is a great opportunity to help your baby develop in different ways. We’ve already mentioned speech, but bath toys can help with fine motor skills, problem-solving, and help your baby learn cause and effect.
Don’t worry, toys don’t have to be expensive, loud, or complicated. You’re not destined for a bathroom full of brightly-coloured frogs that ribbit on command! Even a plastic cup can help them learn about pouring and splashing can show them how they can make an impact on their environment.
The real reason to have a bath, especially for babies, is to get rid of the day’s grubbiness! Whether it’s milk, the contents of their nappy, or just the remains of that clump of soil that they found under the buggy wheel, babies get dirty. Using something like these super-soft sponges can help you get into all those cute little nooks and crannies.
But there are other physical benefits of bath time. Massaging your baby as you clean them can reduce emotional distress, and increase relaxation (and let’s face it, we could all do with a more relaxed baby before bedtime). Physical contact also helps babies feel safe and secure, just as skin-to-skin did immediately after birth.
There are plenty of products you can use on your baby’s skin that will help this calming effect. My children have always loved it when I add lavender-based products to the bath time routine. The natural calming properties of lavender can trigger your baby’s brain to release serotonin and dopamine, helping them relax. This baby bath from Earth Friendly Baby is great to add to the water, and you can use this gentle lavender top-to-toe wash to help the process whilst keeping your baby’s skin lovely and soft.
Some babies with more sensitive skin might find bath time a bit uncomfortable. But there are some great products to help with this and keep your baby’s bottom as soft as it should be. I love using anything from Organic Babies. For those of you dealing with very irritated skin, Oilatum is a great choice to keep bathtime calm and comfortable.
Head to the Spa:
Now everyone is clean and calm, wrap your baby up in one of these super-soft hooded towels and hold them nice and close to you. The after-bath routine is just as good for bonding time.
When your skin is feeling particularly parched, slathering on your favourite body cream can be a luxurious experience. Why not take a few minutes to transport your baby to their very own spa? Choose a body lotion that fits your particular need, whether it’s a soothing range like Oilatum, or a calming range to build on that sleepy feeling. I also love Palmer’s massage lotion with its gorgeous smell.
You might not be a trained masseuse, but all your baby cares about is the opportunity for eye contact, more bonding, and how the physical touch increases the level of oxytocin, the love hormone. This can be a wonderful moment of reconnection, especially if you’re feeling run down and overwhelmed by parenthood.
Eyes On Me
Obviously, children and water can be a risky combination. Make sure you’re always paying attention and that you never leave them. It’s worth ensuring that you have gathered all of the things you’ll need in the bathroom before you start bathing your baby. For those of you with particularly wriggly munchkins, consider something like this bathing seatso that they’re not constantly slipping out of your hands while you wash them.
But it’s not just about safety. The added bonus of all this (as if you needed one!) is that undivided attention is great for bonding with your baby. You can’t multitask during bathtime and you’re free of distractions, so you and your baby can enjoy quality time to reset at the end of the day.
Enjoy the splashy fun!