Splish and Splash: Infant Bath Tips

Bath time can be one of the most precious bonding moments with your infant. As she splishes and splashes in the water and smiles up at you, it’s a moment to remember. However, not all babies and toddlers are eager to get in the tub. If you find that your infant is resistant to bath time, it may be time to get creative with games and soothing techniques to keep her calm and clean.

Schedule a Routine

Just as it’s important to prepare your child to wind down for bed time, it is also important to prepare her for a nightly bath. Show your little one bath props well before it is time to jump in the tub. Lay out a towel, wash cloth, baby soap, lotion and any bath toys, such as a rubber duck, to indicate that bath time is nearing.

According to Salley Schmid, mother of twin daughters, family therapist and positive discipline parent educator at Enrichment Training and Counseling Solutions, bath time should never be hurried. “Bath time was built into the routine chart, which enabled them to be empowered about it when it happened,” she says. “They helped me make the chart, they read the chart (picture based at first) and named what came next as we progressed through the routine.”

Make Bath Time Fun

Although the purpose of a bath is to clean your child, it is possible to make this experience fun for your little one. Begin with silly stories to keep him or her engaged. “Use bath wall stickers or bath toy animals or characters to animate a story,” suggests Meg Akabas, author of 52 Weeks of Parenting Wisdom: Effective Strategies for Raising Happy, Responsible Kids and founder of New York City-based Parenting Solutions consulting firm. As you create the story, encourage your child’s participation by asking “where is the elephant?” and “what sound does a cow make?” Mix bath time with an educational lesson, even at an early age.

Get your little one active by creating wild hairstyles with shampoo and water. Your child will not whine or cry about getting his hair washed when he can shape his hair into a Mohawk. “Help your child create silly hairstyles with the shampoo suds in his hair or play beauty parlor,” suggests Amanda Mathews, pediatric occupational therapist. “Bring a mirror for him to look in to check out all of the different crazy styles.”

If your child is apprehensive about swimming in the summertime, you can help ease her fears by creating a pool party in the bathtub. Have siblings put on swimsuits and join your baby in the tub for a beach time pool party, suggests Mathews. “Bring a beach ball or beach toys, such as a bucket or watering can, into the bathtub to help promote splashing and pouring water,” she says. This way, your child can see that water is not scary and pools and tubs can offer a fun and wet experience.

Show off your vocal talents while bathing your child to help eliminate his resistance to bath time. Make up songs that include words about scrubbing your arms, washing your hair and rinsing off so your child is soothed by your voice and knows when to expect water to be poured over his body. If your baby is resistant to water being poured over his head, break out a headband, visor or goggles as dress up toys to help him get ready for the waterfall. If necessary, Mathews recommends having your child hold a washcloth over his eyes to prevent soap or water from getting into them. This is also an ideal opportunity to play peek-a-boo with your little one.

Break out the Toys

A tub filled with toys will help your little one adjust to the dreaded bath time each night. Toys can be comforting for your baby, so invest in water-friendly squirt toys that will aid in the cleaning process. “Have your child get his own hair wet using squirt toys,” suggests Mathews. “Squirt toys allow for a small stream of water to come out, rather than dumping a lot of water all at once. Squirt toys also allow your child more control over the situation, which can help him to feel more comfortable.” If you go this route, be sure to wash or replace those toys often though, as they’ve been found to be breeding grounds for mold and mildew. A detachable showerhead on a gentle stream can also be used as a fun bath time toy. Cups that can be thrown into the dishwasher after playtime make for great bath toys, too.

When Sally Schmid, family therapist, got her children ready for a nightly bath, she made sure bath time was a fun experience with lots of toys in the tub. “Bath time was always fun when my kids were small,” she says. “The bath tub looked like a picture out of a ‘Where’s Waldo’ book. There was a lot of splashing in my house and they also helped clean up the water that ended up outside of the tub.”

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2 thoughts on “Splish and Splash: Infant Bath Tips

  1. My baby cries every. single. time we try to give him a bath… Any suggestions as to what I may be doing wrong?? I try to make sure the temperatures are warm but not too hot, we’ve tried toys, singing… I’m so frustrated!

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