Bath time can be the most wonderful part of your day. Its an opportunity to bond with your baby, unwind after a busy schedule and enjoy precious moments bond and connect. The gentle swishing of the warm water, the calm and relaxed interaction between you and your child, soft music... ok, wait. Is this really how it goes for you? If so, then congratulations! This is the goal. But if you're anything like the many parents who contact us with 'Help! I don't know what I'm doing and my baby seems to hate bath time!' then you're in the right place.
We've teamed up with the lovely Alexa at The London Baby Coach to bring you a wonderful guide on what to do if your baby cries at bath time. Please share with any friends and family who need to read it too.
What are your top tips for creating a calm and relaxing bathtime routine?
Have everything ready beforehand, this will make the bathtime routine a much smoother process for you when you have everything you need to hand and laid out for when you finish.
Never leave it too late, you want your baby to enjoy this time of the day, especially when used as part of a bedtime routine. You don't want your baby to be upset from being too tried and the closer you leave it until bedtime the more rushed and less enjoyable it will become.
Whilst in the bath some age appropriate toys and music creates a fun yet relaxing atmosphere.
What strategies do you recommend for very young babies who are tense and upset at bathtime?
Depending on your little ones age there are a few things you can try but for very
- You can use the swaddle bath approach where you pop your baby into the water wrapped in a swaddle, then once in the water you slowly take off the swaddle to give them time to adjust to the water.
- Distraction is always a great technique, for very young babies they can only see in black and white up until 8 weeks of age so you can try laminating some images, which you can find as a resource on my website, or Etta Loves has some fab muslins you can use.
- Have bathtime together, skin to skin in the early days is a great relaxant for babies, so why not run the bathtub for both you and keep your baby close to your chest.
What tips do you have for older babies and toddlers who refuse to get in the bathtub?
There are a number of reasons as to why babies become reluctant to have bath time and pinpointing what this could be can sometimes be tricky. Similar to that of a small baby, you can strip things back to basic and begin having bath time together, this is great one for those who may have developed a fear around bathtime, especially the plughole (it does happen), doing this will help your baby or toddler to regain confidence as well as feeling comforted with you in their too. I'm sure all will know that bath time is a time of fun, but perhaps it's time to switch up the toys or introduce things like bubble baths, make it an activity to go out and choose them together.
Bathtime resistance can also happen as your little one becomes more independent, getting to a point where they want to do these things for themselves. Obviously carrying out bathtime alone won't be an option, but you can give them responsibilities around bathrime like picking 3 toys from the toy basket to put in, or squeezing the bubbles into the water.
Introduce a sticker chart, if you're finding your child is simply refusing bathtime, they're coming to an age where they're trying to find their assertiveness, perhaps introduce a sticker reward chart and after each bath without resistance they get a star, by the end of the week they can have a treat.
Be patient with your little one, I understand it can be frustrating to have a child who may have gone from loving bathtime to it becoming a nightmare part of the day, but if you remain calm and give them time to gain confidence in bathtime again then the phase will surely pass. For both this point and the one above it's important to also look at the time of day you're carrying out bathtime as overtiredness can be a reason for bath time battles such as these.