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Bathtime tips for babies

Tips for bathtime with your baby

Baby Bathtime

Bathtime is a great way to introduce water to your newborn baby and start your little one’s swimming journey from the comfort of your home!

Bathtime is a lovely sensory experience, from the warm water, to bubbles, to all the toys that your little one can play with as they get older!

It’s recommended that you do not bathe your baby until their umbilical cord has fallen off, but as soon as that has happened, you can start a bath time routine with them. 

When Winnie was a newborn, my husband got in the bath with her for the first time, and we used muslin clothes to keep her warm - it was such a nice moment for us as a new family. 

We made sure the water was at the right temperature using a thermometer to ensure it wasn’t too hot or too cold. We then used a sponge to squeeze water over and around her to get her used to the feeling, and a flannel to gently wash her skin. As she got bigger and we started washing her hair, I would let the water trickle down over her face - not making a fuss about it, so it just became a normal thing to do!

We didn’t use a bath seat, but there are lots available on the market to help you sit or lay your baby down. I found it easiest just to kneel down next to the bath, hold her head, and let her almost float in the water. She got to practise her kicking skills this way, too!

Alongside going to the swimming pool and attending lessons, I would sing songs we had learnt in class at bathtime so they became familiar to her. Don’t forget babies learn through repetition, so the more you do and say things, the more likely they are to pick it up nice and easy! 

We keep bathtime as fun as we can with lots of toys and bubbles and obviously encourage lots of splashing. Again, saying splash splash as your little one does the action helps them learn the words to match the things they are doing. Gradually, you will be able to say ‘splash’ and they will do the action! Babies are so clever like that!

Watering cans and cups are great for washing hair and also having fun with, I introduced a phrase for when I am purposefully going to put water on Winnie’s face so that she knows it is coming - ‘Winnie, ready, go’ and over time she has learnt to close her eyes and mouth. We also do this in the swimming pool too before a jump in for example when I know she is happy going under the water but I want her to be prepared her face is going to get wet, she is now starting to hold her breath too!

Mirrors are also nice to use in the bath if you have them, and they can be a great way to get your little one to explore underwater - plus babies love looking at themselves!

We also like practising blowing bubbles in the bath, whether that’s with a cup or laying down and putting our face in the water, Winnie likes it when I blow bubbles with her!

Some babies don’t like having a bath, and that’s completely normal. There are lots of things you can try to get your little one to like bath time, but if none of them work straight away, don’t be put off. It could just be a phase, and as your baby gets older, they begin to enjoy it.

Here are a few things to try if your baby is unhappy at bath time:

  • Try and make sure baby is fed and well rested at bath time, a hungry, tired baby is not going to be too happy to have a bath. 

  • Work your way up to a bath, sitting baby in an empty bathtub and pouring cups of water over feet and hands to get them used to the feel of water might help them adjust to a bigger bath

  • Some babies don’t like loud noises so the sound of running water might be a bit too much, prepare the bath environment making sure it’s nice and quiet before bringing your little one in

  • Sometimes it’s the being put into water that babies don’t like - you might see them scrunching their legs up. Sometimes Winnie is like this so I put her in the bath empty and then fill it up with her in it... she likes to help me swish the bubbles around this way!

  • Distraction can be key sometimes, singing a favourite song or having a favourite toy can help your baby become happier in the water

  • The water may be warm, but the air temperature may not be; closing the bathroom door or having the radiator on for a while beforehand might help keep the room warmer for baby

  • Have a bath together... when Winnie was a tiny baby, I would run us a bath and get in together... it was so nice for us both to have a bonding moment and she would more often than not fall asleep on me too!

  • Have a shower instead... some babies might prefer having a shower over a bath!

If all else fails, don’t worry. You can give baby a flannel wash instead of a bath. Using a bowl of warm water and a flannel, you can keep baby clean and slowly introduce water to them until they are a bit bigger, and then you can try a different technique!

After the bath, have a towel or dressing gown ready to wrap them up as snug as a bug in a rug! Winnie also loves a little baby massage with some baby oil before going into her pyjamas. From when she was a tiny baby, she loved having a back massage and still does to this day!

Bath time can be part of a nice routine you have at any time of the day, most people like to do bath time as part of a bed routine, for us we do a bath after dinner before a final play session in the evening, that’s just what works well for us at the moment! Either way, a calm environment and relaxing bath can do wonders for your little one, teach them new skills, or build on ones you have already learnt in your swimming lessons.

Just to add - always make sure your little one stays away from the hot tap and any cords attached to the plug and never ever leave your little one alone in the bath even for a second.

Article by Amy Cowell

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