Bath time – SCRUB – A – DUB – DUB, How often must I be in the tub?!

For any first time mom, bath time can cause a certain amount of anxiety. The thought of letting that precious baby slip through your fingers is terrifying. While some babies love bath time, others find this sensory rich task somewhat overwhelming and their fussing and crying can make this even more of a daunting task. For sleepers (babies 0-1 month old) thankfully they do not need daily baths as all they are really doing is sleeping! Even little rollers (1-2 month olds) don’t need regular bath times, but as soon as little ones start becoming somewhat more active and reach the creepers stage (3-4 months of age) then bath time becomes a lovely activity to signal bed time and other routines. It can also help sleep routines become well established and thus we do generally start bathing more regularly.

With bath time being a sensory rich activity – there are some considerations which can make the world of difference to this daunting but rewarding daily task (if you and your little one get the “dance” of bath time right!) Bath time can be quite an overwhelming event for some sensitive sleepers. The feeling of being naked, coupled with the intensity of the sensations involved (from the water, soap, face cloths, towels and drafts) can all be just too much.

Here are some tips to help you make the best start:

  • The temperature of the room should be kept moderate. Your baby’s circulation should improve after the first few weeks but he may get cold very easily at bath time, so being organised and quick will make sure that he warms up quickly.
  • You can make this transition to the bath a little easier for your baby by bathing with him (making sure you have another adult ready to take him out the bath and get him dried and dressed quickly). This is a great bonding time for dad! His chest provides a very different sensory experience to moms!
  • Another way to help him adjust to this sensory-rich experience is to wrap him in a bath towel and then put him in the bath with the towel still wrapped around him. Unwrap one part of his body at a time, wash it and wrap it up again before moving on to the next part of his body. As your baby gets used to the bath and the feeling of water directly on his skin, you can just use a small cloth over his tummy, instead of wrapping him up entirely.
  • Warming up the room you are going to dress him in, as well as the towel to dry him, will make the process of getting out of the bath less of a shock for your little baby.
  • Try avoid strong smelling lotions, etc. Your baby’s skin does not need anything extra yet. However, if you would like to moisturise or massage – use a natural, odourless and/or cold-pressed product such as olive oil. Odourless aqueous cream can also be used as “soap” and/or a moisturiser.
  • Some babies will like the feeling of tighter fitting clothing and heavier blankets, while others prefer loose fitting clothing (or none) and tend to fuss when any blankets are put on them. You will have to watch your baby’s cues to find out what he prefers.

Time spent in water (e.g. bathing or swimming) allows the water to apply pressure to the skin and muscles, thereby increasing the amount of feedback from the proprioceptive sense about the body’s position in space, as in swaddling. It can be very calming once your baby is used to the bathing sensation!
If your baby is loving bath time or has gotten used to the feel of it, here are some Fun Time activities from our Groovy Adventurer book to make this task even more fun:

Bath time

  • Weather massage – While your baby is lying in the bath (or after a nice warm bath) you can perform the weather massage on his tummy, back, arms or legs. At the same time you can tell him the weather story or sing the weather song. Start off with the sunshine. Allow your fingers to extend from fists & “spread” over the surface of your baby’s body. Then apply the heavy clouds – using your fists or palms, press gently on different areas. Try adding light rain – gentle pitter-patter rain with fingertips, or wind – blowing on bare skin & gently dragging fingers across the area. If you would like to imitate snow, poke lightly with your fingertips!
  • Texture time in the bath – During bath time use the warm water, soft sponge, different textured bath toys, wash cloths, textured towels, etc. to rub over your baby’s hands or feet, tummy or back, etc. You may want to avoid his tummy if he’s just had a feed as it may make him uncomfortable, so watch his cues.
  • Ice magic – You can make coloured ice blocks by adding a drop of food colouring to the water. Once the water has frozen, seat your baby in a small splash pool, big bucket or the bath with some warm water. Place one ice block into the water at a time and watch as the colour dissolves. Your curious baby may want to reach out and touch them. You can rub the ice block over his arms, hands, legs and feet while talking about how cold it is and that the water is warm.

Have Groovy fun splashing about in the tub with your baby!

Lotsa love

Lourdes and Carly

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