Who says baths are just for babies? Whether you have a small infant or an active baby quickly approaching toddlerhood, time in the tub together can be special and enjoyable for you and your child alike.
A shared bath can be particularly soothing and reassuring to very young babies, and skin-to-skin contact is a great way to bond with your wee one. Being intimately close with you also helps your baby develop trust and faith, fostering a healthy affection for baths and possibly quelling fears of the water.
If your baby is young, give him a gentle massage, pouring small amounts of water over his belly. Be sure to make plenty of eye contact as you speak calmly to him. Don't forget how slippery little babies are when they are soapy! To keep you and your baby from slipping in the tub, sit on a rubber bath mat or a bath towel.
If your baby is older, the two of you can have a pretend tea party (no drinking the bath water, please!) or play games together in the water. Your child is sure to love her wash-day playmate! And babies love bath toys, though you don't need to buy expensive accessories to have fun. Try punching a few holes in a bottle or empty yogurt cup to make a sprinkler. Offer some non-breakable cups or bottles, and show your baby how to fill and spill the water from the cups. She may think dumping the water all over you is hilarious! Raid your kitchen cupboards for funnels and colanders, and watch the fun. A small amount of baby bath in the water will make wonderful bubbles—show your little one how to splish splash in the water with his small hands (but don't splash baby—you don't want to frighten him).
Make Funny Business of Getting Clean
Babies often fuss about having their faces washed—yet those chubby cheeks just can't stay covered in strained peas and mashed banana forever. If your baby is fighting the face wash, try making it fun. Wet a soft, small washcloth and use it to play a friendly game of peek-a-boo. Put the cloth on baby's face, quickly give a swipe, and pull it away saying "peek-a-boo!" If your baby resists, try putting the cloth to your own face and letting your baby pull it away as you say peek-a-boo; then tell your baby that it's her turn. Laugh with your baby and keep it lighthearted.
Poems and songs are entertaining ways to make getting clean a tear-free experience. As you wield a soft washcloth and a bit of mild soap, croon "This is the way we wash our toes ... " to the tune of "Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush." Of course you'll need to change the verse as you wash legs, arms, and a belly button!
Reciting "This Little Piggy" while gently scrubbing tiny toes is a fun way to wash adorable feet. And if you like to sing in the shower, don't forget classic songs such as Ernie's "Rubber Duckie" and the beloved "Splish Splash" for great bath time music. (Read on for other baby bathing tunes.)