Saturday, June 14, 2014

Getting Baby to Love Water Part 1: Baths

I'm sure no one wants their little one to hate the water. Baths would be frustrating and just forget about going to the beach or pool. But how do you get your kids to like the water? Of course, some of it is ingrained personality, but you can do some things to help them enjoy baths (and eventually swimming). But you have to start at an early age.

Baths
You can start giving your baby real baths once their umbilical cord stump falls off (7-14 days after birth, though my little boy's fell off on Day 4. We were quite shocked!) Prior to that, you can only give them sponge baths. But I never even got the chance to - it's not like a baby will really get that dirty in 4 days! Once you are able to give baby a real bath, you want it to be a positive experience.
  • Firstly, you want to make baby's exposure to the water short and sweet. Prolong the experience and he may start to get fussy. 
  • Make sure the water temperature is ideal. Do you like cold baths? Although I love hot baths, they are not good for babies. It does seem that our little man enjoys baths that are borderline hot. We have a handy little bath thermometer that tells us if it's "cold," "ideal," or "hot" and he seems to like it when it's reading both "ideal" and "hot" at the same time. 

  • Take note of how much they are submerged in the water.  Baby G's first bath, he was hardly in the water at all. We were trying not to shock him, but that may be one reason that first bath wasn't wonderful. He didn't get too fussy during the bath, really, just toward the end and immediately once we took him out. (See the bullet on drying baby off fast, below). Just like when you are in a bath, any body part that is not under the water can get cold. So make sure you're constantly pouring a little warm water over his body so he doesn't get chilly. 

  • Be gentle. Especially at first. Their skin is soft and sensitive - there's no need for any vigorous scrubbing with a loofah. You don't really even need a washcloth, you can just use your hands. 
  • Make it fun! Your little one may be too young to appreciate bath toys yet, but you can still have fun. Sing songs, rub them gently, talk to them and smile at them... Figure out what they like! Baby G loves the little squirt bottle that came with our tub. (It's basically just a plastic bottle with a bunch of holes in the lid, so when you squeeze it, it's like a shower). We squirt his belly and head gently as well as hold it up high so he can watch the water fall down into the tub. 
  • Acclimate them to the "bad" parts of water. After you've had a couple short, successful baths, you can start to gently dribble water on their face and let it run into their eyes. (Make sure you're using a tear-free baby soap/shampoo!) Don't overdo it, just get them used to water being on their face, eyelashes, etc. They will get splashed in the face when at the pool - you can't avoid it. You can build up to more and more; actually splashing in the tub and letting it splash onto his face - just take it slow!
  • When it's time to get out, dry baby off fast! We have a few different towels: thin terry ones and a thick fuzzy one. The thin ones get wet very fast (not as absorbent) and then baby gets cold faster cause he's just wrapped in a wet towel! We like the thicker towel better because it's cozier and warmer. After a few baths, we found out that he liked the rub-down. He loves having the towel rubbed on his head, face, and body - we can even get a little vigorous!


  •  Repeat frequently! We give our boy a bath every night. Bonus: it's also part of a successful bedtime routine. The more you do it, the more used to it your baby will get. Babies and young children also thrive on routine - they like knowing what to expect.
Of course, these steps may not always work (and I'm no expert).  Even though it seems like G is turning into a fish, we still have some bad bath experiences from time to time. Like if we're bathing him when he's over-tired, or hungry, or just cranky. Or if we try to push it too long, he will get fed up.

This is just the first part of creating a positive relationship between your baby and water. Stay tuned for the next parts!
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