We all know that regular baths are important for keeping your little one healthy and smelling sweet, but bathtime isn’t just about getting clean! It’s also a great learning experience for your baby.
Why? Essentially, our brains learn best when they’re being exposed to lots of new information, and for a young baby, being immersed in that lovely warm water is quite a novel thing. Later on, when they’re better able to sit up and explore, the bath is a great space for them to experiment with some big, important concepts. Here are a few things bathtime is teaching your baby:
When you support your newborn in the bath, the sensation of the water on their skin stimulates their sensory development, and it also helps support their weight, which lets them stretch out and practice moving those little arms and legs in new ways. It’s also a great chance to bond with Mum or Dad; as you support their body and head, you’re at the perfect arm’s-length distance, so they can focus on your face. Go ahead and have a chat to them, or sing a song; they’ll love the close interaction with you.
As your baby gets a bit older, those arm and leg movements will get bigger and more energetic (keep a towel handy!) This isn’t just an attempt to soak the bathroom, though – they’re experimenting with their own movements and learning a lot about cause and effect.
Plus, it’s great fun for your baby to be able to have such an effect on their environment; the sound of the water and the sensation of splashing is very exciting and stimulating. Add in the scent of the soap (like the sandalwood in our Good Night Baby Bath) and the sight of bubbles and toys bobbing in the water, and you can pretty much guarantee they’re learning a lot.
Once your little one can sit up in the bath (perhaps in a bath seat), things get much more exciting! Grabbing for bubbles or toys floating in the water is a great way to practice motor control, and watching a toy sink to the bottom (or, even more exciting, bob to the top) is a wonderful puzzle for their little brains to try to figure out.
Try holding a buoyant toy under the surface, then letting it go; you’ll likely get a fascinated reaction from your little one (but be prepared, you may need to do this a few dozen more times before they get tired of the game!) You can also show your baby how to pop bubbles, fill a cup or stick foam shapes to the side of the bath; all these little games will teach them important lessons about how the world works.
Once your child has better motor control, bathtime will probably become some of the best playtime of the day! Many toddlers adore spending time in the bath, filling and pouring the water with cups, squeezing it out of squirty toys and flannels, or using it to turn a water wheel. As they develop a sense of pretend play, you may find them wanting to bathe their dolls, or have a race with toy boats. All this play is really valuable, and will teach them important concepts, from basic physics (gravity, buoyancy) to maths (empty vs full) and problem-solving skills.
What’s your little one’s favourite bathtime activity? Which toys or games do they like best? We’d love to get your ideas – feel free to share them in the comments below, or on our Facebook page!