There’s something that’s just so special about baby bath time. Your chubby little dumpling, all rosy and warm, splashing happily, giggling as you sing silly songs—now this is why you waddled around with heartburn and sciatica for 9 months!
Of course, if the water’s just a little too hot or the bubble bath’s just a little too harsh, you could end up with shrieks instead of blissful giggles.
Here are my been-there-done-that tips for achieving tub-time happiness:
Bathing baby isn’t just a cleansing routine; a warm, relaxing bath sets the stage for a beddy-bye routine that hopefully will lead to a long, peaceful night’s sleep. So make bath time an evening affair. At the end of a long day (all that eating, sleeping and pooping is bound to wear a little one out!) fill an infant-sized tub or sink with warm water (no more than 90-100 degrees F) and a mild soap. (Important safety note: NEVER ever leave a baby, toddler or small child unattended in the bath—not even for a minute!)
Stick with an unscented variety for newborns and babies with sensitive skin; otherwise, channel the power of aromatherapy with California Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash (ooh la la, French lavender!) or treat your baby to an organic vanilla and sweet orange infusion with Earth Mama Baby Shampoo and Body Wash.
Gentle body-wash-and-shampoo combo products are great for both delicate skin and the wispy hair on your little one’s head—but as that hair becomes thicker and longer, check out Jason Kids Only Shampoo. If your little miss has a full head of wild curls before her first birthday the way mine did, treat her to a wash and dry with Jason Kids Only Detangling Conditioner, which gently works through the snarls in longer locks.
Gently wash shampoo from baby’s head using clean water—going out of your way to shield the eyes from getting wet may lead to fear of swimming under water later on, though, so avoid visors and similar products and just keep a soft towel on hand to dab excess water from the eyes.
At first, if your newborn makes it through the bath without dozing off, consider your bath a smashing success—but as she gets older and starts to make eye contact, react, smile and even laugh, bath time can become a rollicking good time if you belt out some nursery rhymes or throw in a few sessions of “peek-a-boo” with the shower curtain.
My youngest is now almost 2, and we can crack each other up doing “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (even if he insists that the bear and the cat both say, “Meow!”)
Of course, toys make everything more fun. My kids have amassed a huge array of bath paraphernalia over the years—this Sassy pull-and-go boat is a big hit because it zips through the tub super-fast—but then again, your little one might have just as much fun with an old plastic cup. An older baby or toddler can spend a good half hour filling up the cup with bath water, emptying it out, and filling it up again. (The magic of cause and effect!)
After the bath’s over, that doesn’t mean the fun has to end! Collect your bundle of joy in your arms with a fresh-from-the-dryer hooded terry towel and then treat him to a massage using a gentle lotion such as California Baby Calendula Everyday Lotion—or if you need to skip fragrances, Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream is fragrance-free.
Then it’s a clean diaper and a fresh set of jammies—and off to dreamland we go!
Jorie Mark is the Editorial Manager of Vitacost.com and mother to three children, ages 2 to 9.