Bath time is great for de-griming little kids, but it’s also the simple secret trick that every parent uses to wind kids down at the end of a busy day. Warm water and soapy bubbles will sooth even the crankiest kid. As part of a relaxing bedtime routine, a bath helps signal that the day is done and it’s time for bed.
Ready, Set, Splash
Before your start, make sure your child is in the mood for a bath and not overtired or hungry. To make bath time simple, make sure you have everything you’ll need on hand before you start so you’re not hunting for supplies with a wriggling soapy babe tucked under your arm. You’ll need soap, bubble bath and shampoo, a washcloth, towels, and a clean diaper and sleeper or pajamas. If you’re bathing an infant, you’ll also need a baby bath or tub support, plus a kneepad or folded towel to cushion your knees and absorb tub side splashes. Always stay with your child in the bath. If you must leave to answer the door or phone, wrap her up in a towel and take her with you.
Before you slip your wee one into the water, make sure to test the temperature with your wrist or elbow, or even a bathtub thermometer to be extra sure. The water should be just warmer than body temperature, about 37°C (or 98°F). For newborns to six-month-old infants, fill the bath with about 13 cm (5 inches) of water. Fill the bath just to waist-height for older babies who can sit by themselves. To keep your bathing babe from getting chilly, make sure the room is warm and there are no draughts.
Bath time is a sweet way to connect with your wee babe, and a great time for gentle play. Keep a few bathtub toys on hand such as simple plastic cups to fill and pour, bubbles to blow, or a boat to float. Read a story from a waterproof bath book, or make up a silly splashy tale off the top of your head. Lullabies or other quiet songs are a nice way to inject a sense of calm into bath time, too.
Kids don’t need a thorough scrub-down every day, but while they’re in the tub, take a soft cloth and wipe down little faces, hands and diaper areas. Make it fun by reciting a little rhyme or naming each body part as you wash from top to bottom, and front to back. When rinsing shampoo from your child’s hair, lean your child back slightly, supporting their head with your hand, to keep soap and water out of their eyes. Older children might prefer to cover their eyes with a folded washcloth, instead.
After the Bath
At the end of the bath, gently lift your little one from the water and bundle up in a hooded towel. Now is a good time to give your little one an infant massage with a soothing cream, before dressing them in a clean diaper and sleeper. Your babe should be warm and sleepy, and ready for a story, a feed and a kiss before tucking into bed.