Bathtime can be a lovely bonding time with your baby. In the early days when they are newborns, you can support them in the water and chat and sing to them while you bathe them. The sensation of being in safe, warm water will stimulate your baby’s senses. As your baby gets older they will enjoy playing with the water; splashing, emptying cups and seeing things float and sink.
Water play and water confidence
Your baby will learn a lot about their body while safely sitting in a bath or floating in a pool with mum or dad. Water will support your baby’s weight, which allows them to move and explore in lots of different ways.
Floating with your hand gently supporting your baby under their head and neck allows them to stretch out their little bodies, which can be a lovely relaxing experience after a car journey, for example. Try singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ and encouraging them to relax their head back and look up at your free hand doing the actions above her face. Wait until you and your baby are confident enough to float and be supported in this manner before doing the hand actions though.
Water and your baby’s senses
Water play gives babies a new experience, where things float, sink and splash. All their senses can be stimulated; they feel the warmth and the wetness over their body, they listen to their splashes, they taste and smell the water as they blow bubbles and they can see things bobbing and floating around underwater.
Extend bathtime games at the swimming pool
The great thing about taking your baby swimming is that you can get in the water with them and literally get down to their level. By blowing bubbles with your mouth just under the water, you can encourage your baby to copy you and grow in water confidence as you are face to face. Once they have developed good head and neck control, they may love the sensation and sound of the bubbles, and being safely in your arms builds both understanding of the physical world and water confidence.
Tummy time is easy
Tummy time is really important for your baby, especially if they have been spending time in a pram or a car seat. Tummy time strengthens their back and improves physical development and it’s easier in water as they are supported by the water and float. The water lets them make big movements with their arms and legs without any restrictions to their movement.
Babies are little scientists
Babies see the effect of their actions and movements in the water in a new way. Water makes such a great noise, and splashing is a lovely sensation for your baby when they have limited motor control (i.e. when they can move their arms and legs but are still learning to have fine control with their hands and fingers). As they get older they will learn about basic physics, such as cause and effect, gravity buoyancy – and all in a lovely warm bath. They’ll love to pour water out of teapots and jugs into funnels, cups and waterwheels. Holding water toys that float under the water will delight them as the toy bobs up and breaks the surface.
Babies will love to repeat these games over and over again each bathtime,and this play is really wonderful for both their physical and cognitive development (development of your baby’s thinking and reasoning brain).
Bathtime is important for your baby but they will not know when they are danger and will not call out if they get into difficulties. It is very important that you stay with them at all times all and focus your full attention on them without any distractions such as texting. You must never leave your baby unattended in water e.g. to run and get a towel, so make sure you have everything you need to hand before you start. Also, before your baby has head and neck control do not allow their face to drop under the water.
Bathtime and water can be stimulating and fun – even your baby’s facecloth or sponge can give rise to lots of fun games. There are also lots of lovely bath toys available that promote different aspects of development. Little squeezy toys help to develop fine motor control of hands and fingers; while fun floating, sinking and pouring toys will bring out the little scientist in your baby. The most important thing is to enjoy bathtime with your baby, as they really love to share playtime with you and chat about what they see and do.
Always make sure that toys or items in the bath are safe for your baby.
Bathtime and the bedtime routine
If your baby’s bathtime is part of their bedtime routine, it can help to keep bathtime calm, relatively short and not too bright and stimulating – soft lighting and a relaxed vibe will help them to gently wind down from their day and ready them for bed.