There is nothing quite like the smell of a newly-cleaned baby, just out of the bath, hair wet and messy, snuggled up in a soft towel and ready for bed. But for a lot of parents, their child’s first bath is a daunting experience, and their first hair wash even more panic inducing. What if soap gets in their eyes? Or the water is too hot for their head? Or perhaps they will hate the experience so much that washing their hair again will be an uphill struggle?
Bathing your baby can be fun and hectic all at the same time. When it comes to tub time, little ones can have a love-hate relationship with it. However, there are plenty of things you can do to get your babe to enjoy splashing around, playing with soapy bubbles, and soaking in the warm water. Whilst it’s essential to keep your baby clean, did you know bath time is also packed with early development and learning opportunities, as well as precious bonding time? So, hang in there and don’t let your water woes get the better of you, as we’ve got all the tips and tricks to get your babe splashing about with a big grin on their face!
How to introduce your baby to bath time
Whether you get the rubber ducks out or sing to your little one, tub time with your baby makes for great bonding. The skin-on-skin contact is important for your bub’s sensory development. You may be lucky enough to have a child who can’t get enough of splashing about, or the latter – one that can’t get wait to get out of the bath! Just like any new experience, it takes a little time getting used to. Don’t worry though – there are also lots of bathing essentials to make sure you’ve got tub time covered from all angles.
Try the following to get your budding water babies to ease into bath time:
- Use a soothing and loving voice with lots of cooing.
- Pick a time where your baby is relaxed – avoid bathing them when they’re tired or straight after they’ve eaten.
- Get in the bath with your little one.
- Use a cup like the Splash to gently rinse away shampoo and soap.
- Make sure the temperature of the water and bathroom is right (more information below).
Babies and toddlers
- Put the baby tub inside the big bath until your bub gets used to the idea.
- Get in the bath with your little one – perfect for bonding time! Put your baby between your legs or on your lap so they feel safe and sound under mama’s wing.
- Buy a nonslip mat for the bottom of the bath – no sliding under the water here!
- Before you pull the plug – take your bub out of the bath. Some little ones don’t like the sound of the water going down the drain.
- Use shampoo especially made for babies so their little eyes are protected.
What temperature should a baby bath be?
Make sure the bath water is comfortably warm, but not hot, before putting your little one in. We recommend pouring cold water into the tub first, and then add the hot water. Mix it all up so you can be sure you’ve not missed any hot spots! Remember – never put your bub into the bath whilst the water is still running. Water temperature can change quickly so wait until you’ve filled the tub up and tested the water before splish-splash fun with your babe.
There are plenty of bath time accessories to help you, for instance, a thermometer should be at the top of your shopping list. It’s the perfect accessory to make sure your little one’s bath water is the right temperature – 37 degrees to 38 degrees (approx. body temperature). Just to be on the safe side, you can also put your wrist or elbow in to check the temperature.
We want the best for your baby and their delicate skin, so when you’re bathing your little one, we recommend avoiding bath products with the following in:
- Artificial fragrances
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine
Gentle baby products will leave your baby’s skin feeling soft and loved. Plus, it’s one less thing to make them protest against tub time!
How to shampoo your baby’s hair
Firstly, it’s important to know that you don’t need to shampoo your baby’s hair every day. You may want to wash it every other day, or even less regularly, whatever works for you and the mess your little one creates! Though, if your baby suffers from cradle cap, it is often suggested that you wash their hair daily, just to help loosen and remove scales caused by cradle cap.
Ensure you choose the right type of shampoo for your baby. The shampoo should be specifically designed for newborns, as they are gentle on their delicate hair and skin. Look for a neutral p.h balance (5.5), and if possible, a shampoo that has a no-tears formula, so this reduces the likelihood of the soap stinging their eyes if it gets in contact with them.
Whether you use a baby bath, a seat support or simply your kitchen sink, run the water to a suitable temperature – 37 degrees is perfect. Hold your baby in the crook of your arm and gently lower their head backwards into the water, ensuring the top of their head is wetted. Or you may feel more comfortable using a soft sponge, like our 100% natural Seaborne sponge, dipping it in the water and gently bathing your baby’s head. Or simply fill a separate bowl with clean, warm water, and pour it over your little ones’ scalp.
Pour a small amount of shampoo into your hand (shampoo containers with pumps are incredibly useful as they allow you to get the shampoo with just one hand). Gently rub the shampoo into your baby’s scalp, using your fingertips to massage their scalp and stimulate blood flow.
Rinse the shampoo out of their hair by either dipping your baby’s head back in the bath, using the sponge or pouring your bowl of fresh water over their scalp.
Gently towel dry your baby’s hair using a soft towel, like our cute Hungry Caterpillar towel. Don’t worry about drying it too much, you can leave their hair to dry naturally – most newborns have very fine hair so it will dry incredibly quickly.
If your child does have cradle cap, then after the hair wash, you may want to apply coconut, almond or baby oil to their scalp to help heal it.
And there you have it, a fresh, beautifully smelling, squeaky clean-haired baby, ready for milk and bed!
Making bath time fun
There are plenty of things you can do to make tub time fun for your little one. Try the following and before you know it, your babe will become a lover of the water:
- Purchase fun bath time toys
Bath crayons, squirty toys and funnels will get your babe enjoying tub time like never before. You could even let your toddler pick their own new toy which they can then associate with bath time. What better way to get them to like splashing about?
- Bath your little one with their older siblings
Putting your toddler and infant in the bath at the same time means they can play together, keeping water woes at bay for your infant. Once they see how much your toddler enjoys tub time, it’ll make your little one see how fun being in the water can be.
- Bond in the tub
Bathing your babe is a chance to spend time with them and make those all-important parent-baby connections. Sing songs, blow bubbles together, and play games whilst you wash. Plus, blowing bubbles above the tub encourages your bub to build their hand-eye coordination by chasing after the bubbles. Result!
- Let your babe practice
By giving your little one a toy or doll to bathe during playtime, you create a fun way to help them become familiar with the idea of bath time.
- Bath time painting
If your tot is 24 months and older, give them some non-toxic bath paints to play with during tub time. Encourage them to finger paint onto the wall of the bath, get artsy with thick handle paint brushes, and experiment with mixing new colours! Don’t have bath paints in the cupboard? No problem! Try colouring water by adding food colour into clear water cups.
Bath time tips for parents
Bathing your little one shouldn’t only be about their comfort, but yours too! Here are two top tips to make baby bath time better for mum and dad too:
- Cushion your knees with kneeling pads as they make kneeling in front of the bath a lot comfier. Our bathroom accessories have lots of kneeling pads in different styles to accompany you during tub time.
- To keep your elbows from getting sore when you’re reaching over the edge of the tub invest in an elbow rest. This will be a life saver!
Remember – not every baby will instantly love bath time – especially when it’s their first few times. Lots of reassurance from mum and dad along with creating a calming and fun bath time routine will wash away your little one’s bathing fears. Stick with it and before you know it, you and your babe will be making the happiest of splashes together.