There are a lot more perks to bath time than just getting baby clean, especially when it comes just before bedtime. Find out what's in that tub of warm water for your little bathing beauty – and for you.
There's nothing cuter than seeing a baby splashing in the bath, soapy suds dotting her chubby folds and dimples. But bathing a baby has benefits beyond a basic cleanup anda few (okay, dozens of) adorable photo ops. Bath time is bonding time too – a chance for you to relax, de-stress, and have fun together (without all of life's interruptions). It's alsoa time to introduce your little one to a whole new world of sensory experiences – from the gentle touch of your hands to the soothing feel of warm water on her body. Another practical perk to bathing your baby; it's a good way to wind her down and get her ready to drift off to dreamland. Want to know more about the benefits of baby bath time? Read on!
Bath time boosts the mom-baby bond.
There's a reason why bath time quickly becomes a highlight of the day, for mom and baby – it's time spent together, just the two of you. Taking care of your baby lets her know you care about her, too, and that's especially true during those warm, wet, wonderful baths. Take advantage of this special time to gaze into her eyes, stroke her soft skin, kiss that yummy baby belly, count those tiny toes, coo sweet nothings, sing silly songs. Feeling your gentle touch and hearing your voice (no matter what you say or sing) will let your little one know how much she's loved.
Bath time is a learning experience.
No flash cards necessary – believe it or not, there's plenty to learn in the tub. Tickle your little one's senses by trickling water gently onto her belly – she'll probably giggle with pleasure (if not, try some other tricks – remember, baby's bath time is a learning experience for you too)! Pour a little water near her (her wide-eyed gaze will let you know she's captivated), or teach her a lesson in cause and effect by showing her how to kick the water and create a splash (don't splash her unless she seems to enjoy it). Once your baby is older and can sit up by herself, show her how to pour, fill, and spray (clean plastic kitchenware, such as measuring cups and mini spray bottles, work just as well as pricey playthings). And don't forget a play-by-play as you wash her – name her little body parts as you suds them (and then kiss them each, of course). She'll be learning a tub-full of words before you know it!
You probably already know this from your own bathtime experience, but nothing's more calming and comforting than a soak in a tub after a long day. Up the relaxation even more after bathtime by trying your hand at infant massage. Lay your little one down on a towel or changing table. Use a few drops of lotion or fruit or vegetable oil (apricot, grape seed, or avocado are good choices) to help your fingers slide on her skin, and then stroke her body gently. Most little ones love being rubbed the right way. But if your baby balks (she fusses or turns her head), don't sweat it – just cuddle instead. Pretty soon, you'll figure out what works best for your fussy baby.
Bath time is a sleep inducer.
There's even more reason to love bathing a baby – especially if you add it to your baby's bedtime routine. The warm water, the warm room, and the warm feeling of being safe, secure, and loved work magic together and will put your baby in the mood to snooze. Whether you're giving your baby a dunk in the tub every night or alternating tub time with sponge baths, the nightly routine will help set your baby's body clock ("Mommy's giving me a bath – that means it's almost time for bed.") Reinforce the sleepy-time message by dimming the lights and keeping the noise and activity down after the bath is over.