Special thanks to The Motherhood and JOHNSON’S® Baby for partnering with me to make today’s post possible. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own, as always.
photo credit: Ashleigh DeSandro
My little sister, Laura, is expecting her first child in a little less than 3 months (and isn’t she just glowing, by the way???). We are all SO excited to meet this little girl and I am really looking forward to watching the transformation my sister will be going through as she experiences motherhood. I have so many things I want to tell her so that she’ll be ready, though I know in my heart that there’s just now way to actually be ready. You simply have to experience it for yourself to “get it.”
But that doesn’t mean that this bossy older sister can’t still try to give a little advice! 😉 I want to keep my expert opinion to a minimum so as not to overwhelm her, but here’s one thing I will say to her (and to all of you reading this!): develop and embrace rituals with your baby.
Little ones crave routine as they soak up this big, beautiful and completely overwhelming world. It’s all new to them, friends, and parents can help make sense of it all by creating some rituals that they can count on in the midst of all this data input they are constantly having to do. One fantastic ritual we’ve done with our children centers on bath time. JOHNSON’S® Global Baby Bath Report has just been released and it contains some really fascinating findings related to bath time. A multi-sensorial experience during and right after a bath can help lead to happy, healthy baby development. I want to share with my sister (and again, with all of you!) some of the ways that we have made bath time, and the night time ritual, in general, a great way to stimulate the senses of our children.
I know bubbles seem like an obvious thing to have on hand with kiddos just for the sheer fun of it, and that’s definitely true! But according to the JOHNSON’S® Global Baby Bath Report playing with bubbles also helps babies develop hand-eye coordination. It also helps babies understand that things exist even when they can’t be seen (this is big developmental milestone, friends!). Touch and smell also are triggered during bubble time. So be sure to keep some on hand for a great bath experience.
This is such a feast for the eyes in the tub! Be sure to use watercolors so that everything rinses off easily and you can go with paintbrushes or just let the little ones use their fingers. My girls have been painting in the tub since they were tiny little things. It’s such a fun way to make masterpieces and very visually stimulating.
Here’s some interesting data for you: babies who are bathed with a fragranced bath product display 30% more engagement cues with their parents than those who aren’t. They also spend, on average, nearly 25% less time crying before sleep. Additionally, smell is the sense that is most directly linked to memories and emotions. This is just one more reason to get those great scents in the air while you make happy memories with your baby.
Like most kids, ours have a slew of tub toys that they enjoy having in the bath with them. Tim, the chief bath time overseer in our home, does a GREAT job of turning these toys into real characters during bath time. He has been having “chats” with the girls using these characters he has developed since they were pre-verbal!
I can’t tell you how this all got started, but ever since Darah, my oldest, was about 2, she has pretended to be a baby animal of some sort the second she gets out of the tub. Naturally Layah has followed along and does the same thing. The great thing about having a baby cheetah or baby bunny or baby dolphin or whatever they pick is that it leads to a big ‘ole cuddle session right after the bath. It’s such a wonderful bonding experience!
Massage is something I really wish I had done more frequently with both of my kids, though we are in a pretty regular habit of giving foot rubs with lotion during story time just before bed. Research tells us that infants who received regular touch and massage were 50% more likely to make eye contact and 3 times more likely to have an overall positive experience. The perfect time to give a baby a massage is right after the bath. It provides a cue that this is the time to settle down and soothe and as a parent, it definitely helps you feel even more connected to your child.
I hope these tips related to turning bath time into a ritual and engages the senses for baby is helpful to my sister, and also to those of you out there looking for some ways to make more rituals for your family members and more ways to connect to your kids. They don’t have to be babies anymore to still enjoy a really good bath! 🙂