For lots of babies, being in warm water feels completely natural. Others might be a little unsure at first.
Which is why it’s important to encourage a love of water right from the start, before any further anxieties start to creep in.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to use bath time as a way of exploring the water together. Not only is it a time when you can focus purely on your baby, it’s also fun for both of you and a great way to unwind at the end of a busy day.
And once you both start to get into the routine of having a bath as part of a good bed time routine, your baby will soon start to recognise it as an important signal that it will soon be time for sleep.
If your baby is over-tired or hungry, then they won’t enjoy having a bath, so if they don’t seem to be happy in the water, try changing the time a bit to see if that helps.
Babies don’t need to spend long in the bath when they’re very young, so start with just a few minutes and build up gradually, taking your cues from them. They’ll soon be having such a splashing time that you won’t be able to get them out!
Here’s our top bath time tips to get you started
- The most important thing to remember is to never leave babies or young children unattended in the bath, not even for a few seconds. Which means making sure you have everything you need before you start, and ignoring any distractions such as your phone, the doorbell or other people in the house. If you need to leave the bathroom for any reason, always wrap your baby in a towel and take them with you.
- Keep the water quite shallow (20-30cm) and at a comfortable temperature (body temperature is normally considered ideal, so around 37oC - 38oC). Always test the water temperature before putting your little one in, either with your elbow, or by using a special bath thermometer. And make sure the room temperature is nice and warm too, with no nasty cold draughts (the air temperature really does make a lot of difference to how chilly your baby will feel).
- No matter how careful you think you’re being, water has a habit of getting everywhere and can make your floor very slippery, so put a non-slip mat in front of the bath to mop up any splashes and prevent any accidents.
- It’s a good idea to warm a couple of towels and put them close by - hooded ones are great, as babies lose a lot of heat through their heads.
- Whatever you do, keep everything fun! Making sure you always support your baby’s head, neck and body, gently swish them from side to side, backwards and forwards, talking and singing to them as you go. As well as loving the feeling of moving through the water, they’ll also be learning about its natural buoyancy.
- Getting your baby used to having water on their face now will pay dividends in years to come (no hair-washing battles for you!). So try trickling a little bit of water onto the crown of their head and gently wiping it down their face (ooh-ing and ahh-ing as you do it!). Then when they’re a little bigger, you can build up the amount of water – again, keeping it fun with lots of big smiles. Pour the water over your own head first so they can see exactly how much fun it really is!
- Something you might like to try is to share your baby’s bath with them. The skin-to-skin contact really enhances the bonding process, and having you in the water with them will help them feel even more secure. It can be tricky getting in and out of the bath with a baby by yourself, so get your partner or another adult to help you. Lie back in the bath, laying your baby on your chest and making sure their body is fully underneath the water so that they don’t get cold.
As soon as bath time is over, wrap them up in that cosy towel you’ve been warming to keep them nice and snug and give yourself a little pat on the back – you’re both one step closer to a good night’s sleep!