Most parents taking care of their baby consider bath time as the highlight of their day. It’s when a lot of unique experiences happen especially for an infant that spends most of the day inside a crib or a bassinet, waiting for a casual cuddle. During bath time, babies get to play with water, smell the scent of soap, see bubbles appear and disappear before their eyes, and of course, feel refreshed and clean.
However, not all babies get excited whenever they see their Mommy preparing the tub. For different reasons, some babies start crying when they start feeling that unfamiliar sensation of water and suds on their bodies.
But babies are not naturally afraid of the water, according to Dr. Jennifer Shu M.D., coauthor of Heading Home with Your Newborn and contributor at Parents Magazine. She says babies can get scared of the noise of running water or if water gets in their eyes and that causes them to get “traumatized” by bath time. The trick is to not force the baby to stay in the water when you’ve sensed that he hates it.
Getting your baby to like taking baths may involve a gradual process that starts with understanding how they respond to new experiences. Several parents have shared their methods on BabyCenter.com, and below are some that had worked for them.
Bath time is best when baby is fed and well-rested
Trying to ease your baby into the tub while he’s hungry or exhausted won’t do any help, because he’s got plenty of reasons to cry in the first place. Make sure your baby is physically ready for bath time before you start warming up the water.
A gradual transition to the tub might be helpful
Most babies get overwhelmed when water suddenly wraps their whole body. To help him get used to it, try placing your baby first in a tub with no water in it and fill another tub with warm water. Then start by pouring the water on his toes with a cup and work your way up. That helps him become familiarized with the feeling more each time until he’s ready.
Sing to your baby through the bath
Songs and conversation can help pacify a crying baby not only in the bath but virtually in any instance. This is particularly true during bath time, though, because you can sing or talk to the baby about what’s happening in real time. You can describe colors, shapes, odors and everything else that’s observable. Not only does this help distract a crying baby, it also helps him develop his cognitive and sensory skills.
Remember to control the air and water temperature
Make sure the bathroom is comfortably warm, preferably around 75 degrees F. Babies can get chilled quickly. Don't put your baby into a tub when the water is still running, because the water temperature could change or the water could get too deep. Make the bathwater comfortably warm. You can test it with your wrist or the inside of your elbow to make sure it's not too hot. Remember, babies and toddlers generally prefer a much cooler tub than you probably do.
Start a routine
Stick to a daily ritual whenever bath time is approaching and make sure your baby notices you so he’ll get used to the preparations. Choose a single schedule, sing the same “get ready” song, use the same towel color, same scent, or the same order of bath activities. Just keep repeating anything that makes the preparation part ring a bell in your baby’s mind.
Unlike regular cuddles and kisses that we give to our babies, bath time gives them a unique kind of skin-to-skin contact. This connection becomes much stronger if you bathe together. The intimacy between you and your baby during bath time helps build a positive relationship; constant talking, rubbing, and eye-to-eye contact develops you to be more sensitive to your baby’s cues, and as a result your baby becomes more trusting and his or her feelings of security are deepened.
When bath time is over, it’s time to tidy up the wet bath toys to avoid the buildup of mold and mildew. Get a bath toy organizer that’s quick and easy to use so you can get back to your baby as quick as possible.
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