Bath time is a wonderful bonding opportunity for you and your little one. And most babies and toddlers find the warm water relaxing, making it the perfect time to enjoy some quiet play as part of a bath and bed routine.
The very act of touching and gently massaging your baby's skin as you give them a bath is proven to have a calming effect on their blood pressure and brain activity, according to researchers at the Miami School of Medicine.
Babies and toddlers learn through sensory experiences and play, so bath time can also be used to engage your child in educational games and activities – the kind you can't get from a TV or tablet.
Bathing baby is also the perfect activity for partners to get involved with and take over from mum after a long day at home, while doing some precious bonding of their own.
Here are a few ideas to make the most of this special time.
Your baby will already be quite stimulated by all the new sensory experiences of bathtime, so there's no need to add too many extra activities to the process.
Enhance bonding by making eye contact with your baby while gently massaging their skin and talking to them.
As your baby grows and has longer awake times, try singing songs and introducing a soft bath toy, such as a novelty washcloth, to get those gorgeous baby smiles happening.
By the time your child can sit upright – at around six months – bath time becomes much more fun, as she will start to enjoy playing with toys and bubbles.
As your baby observes the way bubbles float or how water displaces when you add a toy to a bath, they are piecing together the way the world works, aiding their cognitive development.
Fun toys for this age group include rubber ducks, floating boats and stacking cups. For your baby's health, look for toys which are BPA and PVC free.
Entertain your infant by playing peek-a-boo with a washcloth or toy, and by singing songs which encourage interaction, such as Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.
Parents of toddlers will appreciate bath time as a great way to clean off the dirt from a busy day of play, and to relax and unwind before bed.
That's not to say that they can't enjoy making a mess while in the tub too! A child at this age love hands-on creative play.
As most learning in human development happens before the age of three, bath time can be used to explore concepts like shapes, colours, numbers and letters with your toddler.
To teach names for different colours, point to different items around the bath and talk about which are the same colour and which are different.
Drop coloured ice cubes – made with food colouring – in the bath and watch your toddler chase them before they melt.
Using foam letters and numbers which stick to the tub, you can sing the alphabet song or start showing your child how to recognise their name.
Toys for this age group promote thinking, creativity and co-ordination. You might try a mesh basketball hoop with soft foam balls, wind up toys,or connecting pipes and funnels to explore how water can be manipulated in different directions.
Remember: it's important to never leave a baby or toddler unattended in the bath or shower, even if they are in a device such as a bath seat. You should always be within arm's reach of your child so make sure you have a towel on standby – that way, if you need to leave the room for a second, you can easily scoop your baby out of the bath.
This article brought to you by Sukin - Australian Natural Skincare.