FUN IN THE TUB
Bathtime can be about so much more than just hygiene – make sure it’s a joyful learning and bonding experience for all of you
BATHTIME IS PAMPER time, and the loving touch that happens here is stimulating for your baby. She gets to know her environment via her whole body, and all the sensations of a bath are good for her senses. Kiss her and sing to her – she’ll love it. The positive associations this creates with bathtime will mean she’ll always look forward to this special time of day.
Get in the tub yourself and bath with her. For a small baby this intimate moment and skin-on-skin contact will be wonderful. Hold her in your lap, and combine bathtime with a massage.
Bathing together is also fun for your older baby and can make her feel like a big girl, especially if she can sit between your legs and look you in the eye.
CLEVER WITH COLOUR
Buy bath products that colour the water to expose your baby to the rainbow. Toddlers might want to choose their colours, or you can have a colour for every day of the week.
LEARN THE ABC
Although your baby’s much too young for the ABC, sponge letters can be great toys. These chunky letters – for sale at most baby toy shops – are just the thing for those fat little fingers to grab and will also help develop fine motor skills.
Babies from as young as three months can be made to “swim” in the bath. Get him to do “backstroke” by supporting his head and bum or cup his chin and support his tummy and sway him from side to side. These actions will help to develop his motor skills while the gentle swooshing of the water will calm him down. You can also lift your baby out of the water and bring him back in, but remember he might start shivering if he is out of the water for too long.
Use an old kitchen jug – plastic or enamel – to scoop up water and pour it out again. Your baby will enjoy his own private bath waterfall. Hold his hands under the running water so he can feel it, or pour the water over his belly. He’ll like these sensations, which stimulate his sense of touch.
At some stage he’ll want to pour from the jug himself. It’s an excellent exercise that will develop his shoulder muscles. But stick to a light, small jug so he can handle it with ease.
A sieve is another piece of kitchen equipment that can be used as a bath toy. Your baby will like discovering how water trickles through a sieve.
FOAM AND BUBBLES
Scoop up some foam and blow it into his face or bring bubble mix to the bath and blow them at eye level. At first he’ll just watch the bubbles until they disappear, which will get his eye muscles working. Later he’ll want to catch them, which will get him stretching and flexing his arm muscles.
A scented bath foam, such as camomile or lavender, will help develop his sense of smell.
Bath toys can also play hide and seek in the foam – hide Froggie or Mama Duck in the foam and ask your baby to look for them. This helps a baby develop a sense of object permanence. This game is appropriate at about nine months old, because only then does baby start understanding that things exist outside of his field of vision.
Remember, a baby’s skin differs from an adult’s, as it’s still developing. Your baby’s skin is thinner, produces very little sebum (waxy substance), and the protective acid mantle also still needs to develop. So choose special baby skincare products that offer the best care for a baby’s thin, delicate skin.
SHARE WITH THE DUCKS
Your baby will like watching bath toys floating around in the bath. It can help to develop his eye muscles. Use bath toys as props for songs – a boat can be great for “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.
Textured bath toys like smooth ducks, slippery octopuses and prickly fish will also stimulate his sense of touch.
Later, you can demonstrate fundamental concepts such as “heavy” and “light” with certain toys that float and others that sink. Or awaken the engineer inside him with a water wheel.
BATH & BOOKS
Plastic books are a dime a dozen and loads of fun for babies. Not only do they learn to love books in this way, but they also concentrate a little in a calming environment. Remember to always dry off these books after bath time to prevent them from going mouldy.
With colourful bath crayons, which are commonly available from baby toy stores, your baby can draw on the tub or on himself. Or you can draw and tell stories as you go. The crayons wash off easily. When you draw, you stimulate his sense of sight, and when he draws, his fine motor skills get a boost.
DEEP SEA DIVING
An old diving mask is a great bath toy for older babies. If you’ve demonstrated a couple of times where a diving mask goes, he’ll soon learn to hold it in front of his eyes himself. Buy some plastic fish for the bottom of the bath (stickers can also work), and encourage him to open his eyes “under the water” and be amazed by the world down there. This stimulates his visual perception.
I WANT TO DO IT MYSELF
Buy your baby his own sponge or face cloth with which he can wash himself. Try buying different textures, because this will develop his tactile sense. Don’t expect thorough cleaning – rather use this opportunity to teach him about his neck, arms, elbows, tummy, legs, feet and toes. Ask him to wash the different body parts by himself.
Without exception, this bath rule needs to be adhered to: never ever leave your baby alone in the bath. Not even for a second. Babies can drown very quickly and in very shallow water. Ignore the doorbell and your phone.
These washes have h a tear-free f formulation that conditions and moisturises delicate hair and skin. Purity & Elizabeth Anne’s Goodnights and Fresh Head to Toe Wash, R68.24 (500ml). Also try the Aqueous Cream Pump, R38.79 (500ml). Available from all big supermarkets and baby shops.*
This baby skincare range from Purity & Elizabeth Anne’s is fragrance-free. Aqueous Cream R31.49 (325 ml), Petroleum Jelly, R26.79 (250 ml), Shampoo and Cleanser R44.99 (200 ml). Available from all big supermarkets and baby shops.*