There's nothing more adorable than a baby cooing and gurgling in his little bath tub. Yet there is so much more to bath time than simply getting your baby clean again. For one, it's a great way to deepen the parent-child bond - and if dad gets in on the action, it is also a fantastic opportunity for mum to get some rest.
Bath time also has other benefits - it is often a good way to soothe your baby if he is fussy or to get your baby ready for bed, as warm water soothes and relaxes. Making it a regular part of your baby;s bedtime routine can help to establish good sleep habits - your baby will soon realise that bath time means that it's almost bed time.
But the best part about bath time is that it can be such a fantastic learning opportunity for your child as well. After all, your baby learns best when he is engaged, and what better time to engage him than when he’s enjoying himself in the bath?
Here are a few tips and tricks to make bath time meaningful and enjoyable for him.
Eschew fancy toys Be creative – use what is readily available in your home. Think plastic measuring cups or recycle used takeaway containers, but provide a variety of sizes. Use them to pour a little water near baby and talk to him about the action. Once your child is older, let him fill, pour and measure water on his own. To expose him to the concept of size, encourage him to use cups of different sizes to fill a big container.
Introduce new wordBath time can be a good time to introduce new words, especially for body parts. Name each body part as you wash it, or sing "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes". Or tell your child the story of the "Five Little Pigs" as you wash his tiny toes. Make it interactive! Ask your child questions such as "Where is your head?" or "Can you point to your belly button?".
Have fun with numbersCount bubbles, fingers or toes. Ask him to tell you the count for various items - how many shampoo bottles on the shelf, for example. Don't forget to count in reverse as well - counting backwards from 20 to zero while you rine him is a good way to reinforce counting skills while signalling that bath time is over.
Get a set of bath crayonsOnce your child has graduated to the bath tub or shower, invest in a set of bath crayons. These washable crayons turns the whole tub into a blank canvas - let your little one doodle away to hiss heart's delight.
Have a sing-along sessionResearch has shown that singing is one of the best activities you can share with your child. Singing can strengthen the emotional bond between you and him, as well as contribute towards his growth and development. Try a variety of songs such as “Rubber Ducky” or “Splish Splash I was taking a Bath”.
Play with colours and shapesTeach your child all about colours by using bath paint or food dye. To make it more interesting for an older child, use food colouring and different sized ice moulds to make ice cubes of different colours, shapes and sizes.
As your child grows up, he will be bathing independently. So take advantage of this special time in your child's life to bond with him, learn together and to simply have fun!