Making bath time (good clean) fun for babies
Sometimes, babies can be real buzzkills who inexplicably reject three of lifes most basic joys - sleeping, eating and luxuriating in a tub full of hot water. The eating and sleeping are a bigger task to tackle, so today I'm going to focus on the bathing. Don't throw out the baby with the bath water - let's make bath time great again!
For some kids, bath time is no biggie. Get in, get clean, get out. For others it's like you're forcing them into shark infested waters. When our Son was born we brought him home, set up the baby bath on the kitchen table, made sure the water was just right, got the camera ready to capture the first bath moments, and.... SHRIEKS. We gave it a few more tries in the baby bath before throwing in the figurative towel and graduating to the big bath together. Maybe it was the sense of security being held by his Mama, whatever it was - it solved our bath time woes. I exclusively bathed him for the first couple of years before Chris finally elbowed in, realising that bathing with your kids is A) a great excuse to lie down for 20 minutes B) an embarrassing but necessary rite of passage for your kids to look back on in the photo album "Ha! Look at Dad when he had hair!" and C) is a great bonding experience.
If you don't have a "big bath" or co-bathing isn't your thing, there are plenty of other ways to take the trauma out of tub time. Firstly, set yourself up for success by always bathing your baby when they're not hungry or tired. Now, read on for more hot tips to achieve a peaceful bath time.
I know you know this, but let's start with the most important part of bathing your baby.
- Babies and children should never be left unattended in water, even for a second
- For babies who are standing on their own, installing a non slip mat in the base of your bath tub will help you dodge slips and falls
- Spouts can remain hot for minutes, so avoid burning little hands by always blasting some cold water into the bath at the end of filling. This way the tap will be cool to the touch
- Invest in some tap and spout covers to soften the blow of any head doinks by uncoordinated babies
- Bath thermometer! 4 years and 2 kids later, I still use our bath thermometer to be absolutely sure the water temperature is ideal
Time for toys
There are endless types of bath toys on the market to distract and delight your baby. There are toys that baby can hold herself, like rubber duckies and silicone teethers - may I suggest choosing toys without holes, otherwise mould can really build up inside those suckers, and it is not pretty.
Waterplay toys are a firm favourite in our house. The Tiger Tribe Stack and Pour Bath Eggs will captivate young babies, and when they're a bit older the toy will work their fine and gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination and boost their confidence. When they're older still they'll be a great tool when toddlers are learning colours.
Your baby loves your voice, even if you don't. Practise crooning while you're bathing your babe - it will help calm him AND you'll both be ready for your next performance at Rhyme Time. Our personal favourites are "Rubber Duckie you're the one" (with nasally Ernie voice of course) and "Splish Splash"
Frida Kahlo or Banksy? Whatever your tastes, unleash your baby's inner artist with art supplies for the bath. Using food colouring you can make an easy colour bath. When they're a little older, these bath crayons are perfect to paint a masterpiece on the bath or tiles - and so easy to clean off!
Bubbles and Mohawks
Did you even go through childhood if you don't have a photo of your hair styled up in a shampooed mohawk? You can't deprive your kids of the same rituals!
And... bubble baths. When all else fails, rely on bubbles to delight babies and keep them occupied whilst you get them clean.
We've had bath books as a staple in our bath time routine since the word go (no pun intended). I use any and all excuses to get books in front of my kids. The best bath books are either simple stories, or completely wordless. These adorable "Colour Me" bath books from Wee Gallery feature black and white images of different animals which come to life when immersed in water. Talk with your baby about all the different animals and charm her with the magic.
Combine story time and washing by using character bath mitts as puppets during your baby's bath. What better way to pass the time in the bath than by donning a wash mitt and putting on a silly voice? These Mister Fly wash mitts come in a range of adorable characters, including bunnies in white and grey, Koalas and Elephants. And when it comes time to dry off, using a hooded towel with a cute character and being cuddled will be sure to soothe your babe.
Some more excellent ideas and resources for a stress free bath time:
And this is an excellent illustrated guide to bathing a newborn on the Raising Children website.
The good news for those of us with babies who protest the luxury of a good bath, don't despair - it will only be a few short years until they'll love it so much you won't be able to drag them out...