Bath time doesn’t simply get your kids squeaky clean, it’s hugely beneficial for bonding and brain development – no wonder it’s our favourite part of the day.
What’s better at the end of a long day than climbing into a hot, bubble bath to relax and unwind? Taking a bath means so much more than getting clean. It’s an opportunity to rest and recharge both mind and body. And not just for tired grown-ups who’ve spent a day juggling work and emails, school runs and meal times – the same goes for our children too.
Some of our happiest childhood memories come from the fun and closeness of bath time. That such a relatively small part of the day can leave such a big impact suggests just how precious this time spent together can be. But what else makes bath time so special?
It creates a routine
There’s no reason why a bath time routine can’t be established from very early on in a child’s life. Our babies spent nine months growing and developing in water and having a bath can have a very calming effect on even the youngest of children. (Remember, always – always – check the water temperature before you put your child into the bath, never leave your child alone for long periods of time, use a non-slip bath mat and wipe up any floor puddles straight away.)
Routines help make children feel secure – knowing what to expect from their day can help them regulate their emotions and behaviour. One of the key benefits of having consistent bath and bedtime rituals is that they help your child learn that it’s time to wind down at the end of the day and prepare them for sleep.
As your child grows, your routine will continue to give them this same feeling of comfort and familiarity. After a busy day at school the calmness of an evening routine may be just what they need to soothe their developing brains and bodies. Children may experience stresses at school or in other parts of their lives that parents can’t always see or appreciate. Bath time can offer them a chance to really switch off from those thoughts and de-stress.
There are no distractions
The feeling of water on their skin and soothing soapy smells will soon leave your child feeling relaxed and settled when sitting in the bath. Without the distraction of screens or other toys, this may be a time when they feel they can share any worries or other feelings they have. It’s a great time to start a conversation about their day, or to begin to make plans for the weekend or an upcoming event or birthday. But it’s worth remembering that, just as adults often do, your child may just want some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of family life. Give them the space to relax and unwind so they really are ready for a really good night’s sleep.
It teaches independence
The bath is a great place to teach children about the importance of personal hygiene. Children learn by example – taking baths with them when they’re young will teach them more about how to stay clean. In time, you’ll be able to guide your child wash themselves and let them dry and moisturise themselves afterwards. It also gives your child the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about their own body or other people’s.
As your child gets older, you’ll come to the point where you make the decision to allow them bathe alone. Giving them this responsibility will instil a strong feeling of pride and enable them to have some privacy. Every parent will feel ready at a different time but experts recommend a child should be at least eight before they’re left alone and you may want to do build up to this in stages (by leaving them for just short periods at first, for example, keeping the door open, and so on).
Bath time is fun
It’s not hard to make bath time fun — singing and splashing will have children laughing in no time. Love Ocean’s signature bottle is the perfect bath time prop — you can hide it under the water or fill the empty bottle and pour the water into cups or over your child’s head. The bath is a great place to make up some exciting stories about ocean adventures or talk about your favourite sea creatures. Why not make up silly songs about washing body parts, use shampoo to make crazy hairstyles or create bubble beards?
Squeezing sponges or rubber toys is wonderful for developing a child’s fine motor skills. This type of play gives your child a unique experience to the games played at other times of day. As your child gets older, water play can also support their maths and science learning through experimenting with floating and sinking and the displacement of water. Whatever their age, bath time need never be boring.
Your child’s love of water will grow with them
Of course, a bath isn’t (usually) deep enough for a child to learn to swim. But it’s a great place to help your child get used to the sensation of being in and under water. When the time comes for them to learn this important life skill, they’ll be better prepared for it.
Try gently pouring water over your child’s head and face. Teach them to blow bubbles in the water and lie back with their ears submerged — what does it sound like? Let them kick and splash to get a sense of what moving through water feels like.
Feeling comfortable and in the bath is the first step to making your child feel safe and comfortable in all bodies of water, including our precious oceans. Now, who’s for bath time?