Not only does regular bathing maintain your baby’s hygiene and wellbeing, bath time actually has many cognitive and emotional benefits which will encourage development. All the senses that are engaged during this special time encourage their brain to really focus and pay attention.
The feel of the water on their skin, watching water pour and drain, playing with bubbles, smelling soothing scents, and most importantly, the time for touch. Experts have also found that baths can de-stress and relax your baby to promote a good night’s sleep.
How to make the most out of bath time
Before we jump into the cognitive and emotional tips of bath time, we’d like to share our top tips on how to make bathing a comfortable and enjoyable experience for both you and your baby. A lot of infants might at first be a little unsure of bath time as they experience the new sensation for the first time. Or some may not enjoy the experience as much as others. Here are some practical methods you can try during bath time to make everything as relaxing as possible.
- Pick a time of day when your little one is calm, rested, and isn’t hungry. Baths don’t have to always be a part of the bedtime routine. If your baby is the most alert and happy in the mornings, try it then. Or even after a nap and a messy lunch.
- Try different water temperatures. Maybe your little one likes the bath a little warmer or cooler. Most of the time, it helps to make the water a little warmer.
- Warm up the bathroom with a space heater if it’s cold so it can be as comfortable as possible.
- Try playing music during bath time.
- Take it slow. Some babies (as you may have noticed) do NOT like getting their hair or faces wet. Take your time, talk them through it, and if they’re old enough, invite them to try wetting their face a little.
- Incorporate something fun to distract them like bubbles or letting them watch the water flow from the tap.
- Get your baby used to water by having them splash some water in a small bowl or from the tap with their hands and feet.
- Have everything you need ready - towels, nappy, fresh clothes, toys… so you’re not scrambling during and after bath time.
Distraction-Free Time with Parents & Caregivers
At any other time with your baby, your attention may be drawn to your phone buzzing, the doorbell ringing or trying to multitask and complete household chores. However, bath time calls for your undivided attention because the number-one safety rule is to focus on your baby and block out everything else. This distraction-free time allows you to bond with your little one, as well as have meaningful interactions that help shape their rapidly-developing brain.
Chatting and playing with your baby during bath time is a great way to encourage language development. The repetition of your baby’s bath time routine also supports language concepts like sequencing and predicting because you typically do the same things in the same order every time. You can help your baby’s language development during bath time by narrating everything you do or making up a fun little song. Use rich vocabulary, even when they’re very young, like “spray,” “drip,” “pour,” “drizzle,” “splash,” and “slippery”.
Bath time is one of many routines that provides your baby with a sense of structure and control. Without routines, babies and toddlers may feel insecure because they don’t know what to expect. Knowing what to expect helps them learn how to regulate their emotions and behaviour.
Once your little one is old enough, bath time is a perfect time to teach them some self-care skills. You can encourage these skills by helping them to wash their body, dry themselves off and get them to help you clean up by putting away bath toys.
Babies predominantly learn through play and bath time play can be extra-motivating. Water and bath toys provide a unique learning experience for your baby that they don’t have at other times of the day. The movement of water and splashing around is incredibly stimulating and interesting to your little one’s developing brain. The tub is also a great place for imaginative water-themed pretend play.
Early Mathematic and Science Learning
There are a lot of bath time play activities that can introduce your child’s mind to mathematics and scientific concepts. Simple acts such as filling and emptying cups will introduce the concept of volume; more, less, empty and full. Experimenting with different toys and objects to see if they sink or float can also be quite fascinating to your baby.
Fine Motor Development
Many baby bath toys are actually designed to help infants to develop their fine motor skills. Squeeze toys or sponges are a great choice for your baby to play with during bath time and will allow them to work their muscles.
Bath time gives your baby’s tactile receptors a lot of stimulation. This is a great opportunity for them to learn about the different bodily sensations. Feeling the water on their skin, distinguishing between different temperatures and the sensations of washing and drying are all actions which will aid in your baby’s sensory development. Again, toys which focus on sensory play are great here too such as the Shnuggle Wishy Bath Light Up Bath Toy.
Choosing the right bath for my baby
The multi-award winning Shnuggle Baby Bath is designed to make bath time less stressful for parents and fun for baby. Suitable from newborn, the clever bum bump helps support even the tiniest baby in an upright position, offering a more enjoyable and comfortable bath time for babies right up to 12 months plus. The Shnuggle Baby Bath offers a comfy and cosy bath time for babies as well as giving new mums and dads confidence to handle their newborn baby at bathtime, click here to shop the Shnuggle baby bath.