Love it or hate it, bath time is a necessary part of parenting. Some parents cherish bath time for the joy of sweet, bubbly faces and playful splashes, while others dread the wet bathroom floors and “shampoo-in-the-eye” screams. Likewise, some kids think bath time is the best part of their day, and others fight tooth and nail against it.
Either way, you’re going to give a lot of baths in your time as a parent, and bath time is a wonderful opportunity for you to bond with your child, so you might as well learn how to make the most of it! Or at least, how to help your kids enjoy it.
Make bath time more enjoyable—and safer!—with these tips.
Don’t leave your baby alone.
Drowning occurs quickly and quietly. The best way to keep your child safe in the bathtub is to provide constant supervision. For infants and young toddlers, this means you should keep a hand on them at all times during the entire bath. For older children (that can reliably sit up on their own), it means being in the bathroom with them and keeping eyes on them at all times.
Even with a bathmat or textured tub floor, the bath is one of the most common reasons children (and adults) slip and fall. A fall in the bath is especially dangerous, due to the hard surfaces. And what’s worse, it adds to the drowning risk. If a child falls and hits her head becoming temporarily unconscious, she’s likely going to fall back into the water, losing her ability to keep her head up.
Drowning is very serious, but it doesn’t always mean they drown under water. Kids who slip under the water and come back up, could still be at risk of secondary drowning if they inhaled bathwater. It’s important to recognize the signs of secondary drowning. Most importantly, keep them from putting their face under the water, even for a second, especially if they aren’t old enough to know how to hold their breath.
There is no substitute for vigilant supervision when it comes to keeping kids safe around water. But vigilance is more than just safety. It causes you to focus on your child, which is the most important aspect of bonding. The more you focus on your child, the safer they’ll be, and bath time will be on track for being a great experience for both you and your child.
Put the phone away.
We tend to keep our phones with us all the time. And we often turn to them when we’re bored, or when things are quiet. While phones bring a lot of good to our lives, they also keep us distracted and take our attention away from our children. This can lead to a lot of missed opportunities to connect with our kids.
To make bath time special for you and your child, make sure it’s a focused time, with lots of eye contact and interaction. Your phone will steal that opportunity from you and your child. Leave the phone in another room, so it’s not tempting to pick it up.
Of course, it’s safe to keep the phone out of the mix, too. You’ll be much more vigilant when you’re not distracted.
Keep everything within arm’s reach.
Before you put your child in the bath, make sure you have everything you’ll need for the duration of the bath: soap, shampoo, washcloths, a dry towel (or two), and any toys your little one wants to play with that day. This will help ensure that you don’t have to leave your child unsupervised at any point during their bath.
Check the temp.
Water that is too hot could be a safety issue for young children—especially babies. Of course, water that is too cold isn’t too pleasant, either. Aim for water between 90-100 degrees fahrenheit for a temperature that’s both safe and comfortable. You don’t need a thermometer, just common sense. If you run your hand through the water, it should feel comfortable. But be aware, you’re probably used to getting into water that feels a little hot and letting your body adjust. Babies and children aren’t likely to enjoy baths that way. They want it to feel comfortable at first touch.
Make getting into the bath feel enjoyable right away. You can even carefully hold your baby over the water and dangle his feet into the bath to get a feel for the temperature. If he likes it, lower him in slowly.
Also, if it’s possible, make sure the temperature in the room is nice and warm. If you’re trying to create a positive overall bath time experience, that should include times immediately before and after the bath.
Bring in the toys!
Make bathtime playtime by bringing toys into the bath. They don’t have to be bath toys, either: any hard, plastic toy that doesn’t use a battery (and doesn’t present a choking hazard) is fair game. You can also get creative with everyday household items like plastic cups, bowls, food storage containers, or empty water bottles. Rotate your bath toys every week or so to keep your child interested.
Clean the toys.
The problem with some bath toys is that, if not cared for properly, they can create an environment for mold (not exactly what you think of when you think “squeaky clean”). This is especially true for toys that squirt water. Make sure your toys are hung in a mesh bag to dry, and take a few minutes every couple weeks to clean your toys. A solution of vinegar and water works well!
Add a mirror.
Is your older child a fan of crazy shampoo hairstyles? What about those ever-popular “bubble beards?” Let them admire their silly, bubbly getups with a mirror for the tub. Just remember, glass can shatter, so don’t use a glass mirror. For safety, order a bathtub mirror for babies. If you want something more multi-use for adults, too, look for shower mirrors that are glass-free, or made of tempered glass (which doesn’t shatter).
There are plenty of colorful options for bathtime these days: bath paints and bath markers turn your little one into a bathtime Picasso; bath bombs and bubble solutions can change the color of the water and create tons of fun suds. For a special treat, put some glow sticks in the tub and turn off the lights! Making bathtime a little more colorful is sure to put a smile on any child’s face. (As always, make sure your child is old enough to use these products appropriately.)
Try reading to your child while they’re in the bath. A favorite story can make bathtime seem less like a chore and more like a fun activity.
As long as you are watching your child diligently during bathtimes, they should be safe. Unfortunately, accidents happen, and you need to prepared for them. One important way to be prepared for an emergency is to learn CPR for children and infants. By learning how to perform this life-saving procedure, you can be ready for anything. Often parents skip CPR training because it sounds like a major time commitment to learn. But online classes like those offered by Infant CPR make it more convenient than ever before to get CPR certified. Register for one of our classes today!
When you focus on safety and bonding, you can make every bath time a fun bonding experience for you and your baby. Happy scrub-a-dub-dubbing!