After I welcomed my first baby, as I survived the newborn days and ventured my way into toddlerhood, something that surprised me was the evolution of a simple bath. It sounds silly, I know, but as I bathe my toddler every night now, I can’t help but think just how many stages of “bath” we have gone through.
One of the most important things about being a parent is learning to adapt and change. This is important when it comes to bottle/breastfeeding, starting solids, establishing safe sleep practices, and learning to adapt when it comes to bath time too. These are the changes we made as we grew as parents, so not everyone moves through the evolution of bathtime in the same way. Find what works for you, but here is what worked for me:
1. Sponge Bath
When you first bring your newborn home, you won’t be able to just run the bath water and bathe them in the tub. The first stage of bath is a sponge bath. You’ll lay your newborn down somewhere flat, on a towel. With a bowl of lukewarm water, a washcloth and some fragrance free baby body wash, you can gently clean your baby. Starting with sponge baths is important because at this time you need to be very careful of your newborn’s umbilical cord. Once that falls off, and you feel comfortable, you can move to the next phase of bathing.
2. Sink Bath
After doing sponge baths for a period of time, we moved into bathing our little one in the sink. We opted for one of those flower bath cushions, but there are a few variations of this same product available. In addition to the washcloth and baby soap, at this stage we also introduced a cradle cap brush. Cradle cap refers to the scales of skin that form on top of the baby’s head – normal for newborns and may last for a few months. During each sink bath we would gently massage our daughter’s head, while using a special brush to help with her cradle cap.
3. Assisted Bath in Tub
After a period of time of sink baths, it was time to move into the big bathtub. While our little one was out growing the sink, she certainly was too tiny to just be in the bath alone. We decided to use something similar to the Angelcare Baby Bath Support, again, there are a few different products out there that offer the same level of support.
My daughter loved this. She was never one to move around too much during bath time, she just really enjoyed feeling the water, so this system was perfect for us. Some families opt for more of a seat system, which allows the baby to safely sit up in the tub, while also staying securely in one place.
4. Unassisted Bath in Tub
Eventually it was time to move beyond any support system, and allow my little one free range of the bathtub. At the beginning she just sat there, splashing around in the water and enjoying that little bit of freedom. Sooner or later she explored that freedom a little more and would crawl around the tub. Now, we are a full blown toddler who will splash, lay down, “swim”, and she truly enjoys bathtime.
We aren’t here yet, but showers are the next stage of bathing. Sooner or later, all children learn how to take a shower. This is when they can independently be trusted to clean themselves. Of course not every child prefers showers all the time, but eventually they all learn how to do it!
As I was preparing for the birth of my first baby, bathtime was never something I put too much thought into. I knew I would have to keep my baby clean, but never thought about the whole picture of what bath time would look like. To my surprise, there were different ways to do bath time, and we figured it all out as we went, and as my little one got older. A lesson learned – there is never just 1 way to do things and you do what works for you and your family!