By Rebecca Vitkus
It’s commonly known that physical touch between a baby and his parents provides many benefits, but did you know that bath time can be rewarding, too? Set aside the stress of a bath time ritual by organizing and planning in advance to make this a special bonding opportunity.
Bath time for babies can be both relaxing and fun. Younger babies need to see their parent to feel comfortable and safe, so make sure your baby is facing you in the bath. Older babies and toddlers love to splash and play with bath toys, so be ready to get a little wet, and don’t forget the bubbles! Bath crayons and rubber duckies are great, but remember that everyday items like cups, funnels and spoons might be even more enjoyable than store-bought toys.
Bathrooms usually provide a great acoustic atmosphere, so babies will enjoy hearing the echo of their giggles and yells. Take this time to speak with your baby and practice sounding out new words. Babies can be sensitive to the way the water feels, so if your city has hard water or water with many chemicals, use a water filter to fill the tub, especially with newborns. Remember to use hypoallergenic soaps, powders and oils with little to no scent.
Although most parents bathe their babies right before bedtime, it’s best to give your baby a bath at the calmest time of your day, no matter what hour it is. If you are busy and stressed at night, you won’t be able to truly enjoy the special bath-time experience. Make sure you bathe your baby when she is not too hungry or too full so that she will be as comfortable as possible.
Dr. Ana Moros-Hanley, a pediatrician at Healthy Steps Pediatrics in Gainesville, recommends having bath time at the same time each day because babies thrive on routine.
“Bath time can be a great bonding time for baby and parents,” said Moros-Hanley. “It can be a very relaxing, fun time to play and interact with Mom or Dad.”
Of course, in the midst of all the fun and excitement of bath time, your baby’s safety is your No. 1 concern. Remember to check the water temperature to ensure that it’s not too hot or too cold, and never, ever leave a baby unattended.
“Babies can drown in 2 inches of water, so bath time should be uninterrupted,” said Moros-Hanley. “Parents should plan and bring everything they may need, and the phone or any other distractions [should be] ignored. The baby is the priority for those 10 to 15 minutes.”
As fun as the bath-time process is, the best part is the end, when you get to wrap your freshly cleaned baby in a warm towel and cuddle to your heart’s content.