If you’ve got a water-loving baby like we do, you will spend countless hours watching your baby soak in the tub. Check out these ideas to use bathtime to bond with your baby!
From Baby J’s very first sponge bath, we KNEW he was going to be a little swimmer. We carefully held our tiny six-pound baby over the sink and rinsed off his little arms and legs. His entire body relaxed and you could tell he was hooked. He’s loved bathtime ever since.
Like most babies, Baby J typically takes a bath every 2-3 days. By the time he’s done playing, relaxing, and getting all clean, his baths typically last about 20-30 minutes.
Therefore we spend a huge amount of time each week on our bathtime routine. Especially in the newborn days considering that the majority of his his time was spent sleeping or eating.
Since it is very important to always stay with your baby while they are in the tub, I quickly decided that I wanted to be intentional with his bath time. So we use this time as an opportunity to bond instead of just going through the motions.
Keep reading to learn about the 5 ways that we bond during bathtime and how you can add these to your routine too!
1 – Give your baby a massage!
2 – Talk to your baby.
3 – Sing with your baby.
4. Read to your baby.
5 – Help your baby to swim!
Don’t forget to scroll to the end and tell me about your favorite bathtime activities with your baby!
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1. Give Your Baby a Massage!
When your baby is first born, she has a lot to learn and is still figuring out all of her senses.
She can only see about 10-18″ and hasn’t fully developed her sense of smell or hearing. However, her sense of touch is the most developed at birth. And you can focus on continuing to stimulate and develop this sense from day one
A great way to do this is to give your baby an intentional, sensory-based massage during bathtime. This will help to develop her sense of touch by giving that sensory stimulation she is looking for. It is also an amazing way for the two of you to bond with each other.
Many parents will choose to do a massage after a bath and/or build it into their bedtime routine. Certainly, if this works for you and your baby, go for it! At our house, Baby J is not a fan of messages after his bath. He’s cold and naked and doesn’t want to waste time on massages. Instead, we multitask and do our baby massage during bathtime!
We add sensory massages to our routine for these two benefits:
Giving your baby a massage helps him to feel more safe and secure.
Babies need frequent physical interactions and skin-to-skin contact, especially during the newborn days. Each time you have positive physical contact with your baby, you are building feelings of safety and security. This is very important to us and our style of parenting.
We typically wait until near the end of his bath to start our sensory massage. However, if Baby J seems stressed, scared, overstimulated, or anxious, it’s our signal to start the
Skin-to-skin contact allows you to bond with your baby.
As a new parent, you hear about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact everywhere. But I found that it can be challenging to make sure that we fit it into our day.
Then I realized how easy it was to add our little
How do you give a sensory massage?
Laughing Kids Learn has a great guide on how to give your baby a sensory massage. We follow a similar routine. But since we implement it during bathtime, we use soap in the bath instead of lotion after the bath. This is our favorite soap! It works perfectly for our massages and is the only soap Baby J doesn’t break out from. I buy the 3-pack, which typically lasts for 3-4 months!
After you finish these steps, don’t forget to give your baby a gentle head massage. This is Baby J’s absolute favorite part of the bathtime!
FYI: I worked with adults with disabilities for several years and learned so much great information about sensory activities. It is very important to always keep things balanced. Always make sure that you do the same actions on the left and right side.
(For example, if you massage your baby’s left hand and arm, don’t forget to massage her right hand and arm right afterward.)
2. Talk to Your Baby
Baby J and I have so many great “conversations” throughout the day, but I also make sure that we use bathtime to add more chatting and bonding to our daily routine.
After a long day, I’ve found that it can be very tempting to scroll through my phone, call my siblings, or just sit back and relax during bathtime.
While this isn’t necessarily bad (as long as I’m always keeping an eye on Baby J and making sure he’s safe), I can always feel a disconnect between us when I’m not deliberately using bathtime as an opportunity to bond. Baby J will watch me more intently and try to get my attention. He’s a little
Talking during bathtime is an amazing way for you to be intentional with your time and give your baby that one-on-on-time that she’s craving
We also add bathtime chats to our day for these great benefits:
Talking with your baby builds language skills.
It is imperative that you talk to your baby each and every day. Every time that you talk with your baby, you help her to learn language skills. And it’s never too early to start.
In fact, research has shown that babies from “talkative” families hear up to 300 million more words than children from “non-talkative” families during their first three years alone! As they enter school, this helps these kids to read and write better. All because they have heard and built a stronger vocabulary at a young age.
Although Baby J can’t say words yet, he loves our bathtime chats. He coos and giggles and loves this uninterrupted time where we can fully focus on each other. The more frequently that we add in these chats, the more he tries to babble and coo back at us.
Not only is this ridiculously adorable, but it is also a sign that he is building his language skills every time that we have our chats.
Talking with your baby also increases cognitive skills.
This occurs because infants are constantly conducting their own little social experiments. During every conversation and
“What happens if I babble? What about when I coo? What will mom do when I smile? What will dad say when I laugh?”
By talking to your baby, you provide excellent feedback for those social experiments. You also give positive feedback to continue learning and building communication skills.
Every time that you talk with your baby, she is learning how to communicate with other people. Most importantly, she is learning that she can trust you. She knows that every time she talks to you, you will respond to her needs, both physical and social. This builds a strong relationship with your baby from a super young age.
But what should you talk about during bathtime?
The sky is the limit and you can have so many fantastic conversations with your baby! Both during bathtime and throughout the day.
Sometimes Baby J and I talk about our day. I ask him how his day was and we talk about everything that we did. This helps us to start the habit of sharing the good and bad parts of our day now, which will be so helpful as Baby J gets older.
Other times we work on identifying body parts and items we can see around the bathroom. This is a great way for us to build vocabulary skills!
Sometimes we just have fun silly conversations about anything that comes to mind. I love these conversations because they’re simply for fun and bonding between us.
3. Sing with Your Baby
Another great way to bond with your baby during bath time is to sing! There are countless benefits to singing with your baby and it’s such a simple thing to add to your bath routine.
Baby J has always loved when we
We LOVE our Amazon Prime Video account while singing in the bathtub. It includes so many amazing free nursery rhyme videos! I press play and then we happily sing together the whole time! It is adorable!
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These are my favorite reasons to add singing to our tub time:
You’re building more language skills!
Just like having conversations with your baby, singing is a fantastic way to expose her to more vocabulary. In fact, this is actually my favorite way to introduce Baby J to the Spanish language because there are so many fun songs I like to sing.
Sometimes I get lazy about talking to Baby J in Spanish because it’s not my first language. Even though I would love for him to be bilingual. However, I love to sing! It’s much easier for me to add in Spanish songs to our day, especially by switching the language on the Amazon Prime videos that we listen to. We have so much fun! (We even made up a special Spanish bath song just for us!)
Singing also introduces rhyming and rhythm skills to your baby.
Because of the way songs work, it’s natural to have lots of rhyming and rhythm in songs. And this is great for your baby! The pattern recognition further enhances your baby’s cognitive development, while also being super fun!
Baby J and I like to learn rhythm by splashing to the beat of our favorite songs. He laughs and giggles every time that his feet splash up water onto his belly.
How do you add singing to bathtime?
Just start singing! It doesn’t matter if you’re a great singer or a terrible one. Your baby will see the benefits of singing.
You can play videos on your phone, sing your favorite radio song even make up your own songs! Every time you sing along or make up silly songs you are showing your baby that you love her and that you love spending time with her. When we sing, Baby J always giggles at either my fantastic singing skills or my amazing lyrical abilities. *wink*
4. Read with your Baby
Reading just 15 minutes a day with your baby introduces a whole host of new words, improves your baby’s sight, and helps you to bond together and form a habit (and hopefully love) of reading.
Baby J and I try to read for a few minutes every morning, afternoon, and evening. A great way for us to add in our evening reading without taking up extra play time is to do a little reading in the tub.
Reading during bathtime is actually when Baby J is the most interested and focused on the pages of the book. Perhaps it’s because there’s no other distractions or noises to draw away his attention?
How can you add reading to bathtime?
While Baby J soaks in the tub, I like to hold his book in front of him and read the pages. Next, I then give him plenty of time to look at each page and explore the patterns, colors, and pictures. After that, we like to talk about the pages and point out the things that we see.
Reading during bathtime has been such a fun way for us to bond and for me to share my love of reading with Baby J. And better yet, it’s a great way for me to show him that he has my complete attention throughout bathtime.
*Note: Be particularly careful as baby gets older and starts splashing more. Softcover books are not a fan of getting wet… (Likewise hardcover books aren’t super fond of it either…) But they do make waterproof kid’s books that are perfect for bathtime! These books are my favorites because they are durable, perfect for tiny hands, and teach Baby J tons of things while we read!
5. Help Your Baby to Swim!
As a former competitive swimmer, this is my favorite part of bathtime!
We’re hoping that Baby J will like to swim and have always planned on introducing him to the pool early. To prepare, we use bathtime as a chance to bond and build comfort in the water. (Actually, his first swim in the pool was at 3.5 months and he did great!)
How can you add “mini swimming lessons” to your bath routine?
At the end of every bath, we move away Baby J’s little bath chair and spend some time swimming! Side note, we adore his bath chair! It is so easy to use for a newborn and bigger baby and drains perfectly!
When we start swimming, first I support his neck and shoulders and let him float on his belly, kick the water, and move his arms. He’s getting so much better at “swimming” around. After that, he flips onto his back and spends some time floating here too. He can almost float by himself and has gotten super confident on his back.
Doing a mini-swimming lesson is a great way for your baby increase her coordination, build strength, and work off some energy. (Baby J always sleeps so much better after a bath workout!)
Best of all, these little swimming sessions are an incredible way to bond with your baby. By supporting your baby in the water, you increase your skin-to-skin contact. You also build trust by ensuring your baby that you will support her and keep her safe. And you build a love of water that you can share together in any body of water as she continues to grow.
As you can see, there are so many amazing ways to optimize your baby’s bathtime and use it as a way to bond with your little person. Test these out and find out which are favorites for you and your baby!
What is your favorite way to bond with your baby during bathtime?
Please leave a comment below. I’m looking forward to your ideas and suggestions!