by Della H. Harris
Tradition insists that babies love water. A fussy babe transforms into a calm, happy, drowsy wee one after a nice, warm bath.
Your baby disagrees. Vehemently! Whines begin with the first drop of water replaced full scale sobbing as you unsnap the onsie. By the time the bath's ready, your baby mood nears hysteria and you feel like you qualify for the world's worst parent award. What you'd like to do is pick up your tiny upset babe and comfort them but they'd still need washed.
Can the bath time blues be averted? Women around the world invite terrified babies into their tub. For many mother-baby pairs, sharing a bath not only cleanses but calms. Skin-to-skin contact with mom could soon have your little one approaching a bath with smiles, not tears.
Bathing with a baby is a whole different ball game from sudsing up solo. Some things to keep in mind:
Has your baby's umbilical cord dropped off and navel healed. Stick to sponge baths until then.
Fill the tub. Fill the tub 1/2 to 2/3 full of warm water. Test the water with your wrist or elbow. It should feel comfortably warm, not hot. Use a thermometer if you're not sure (lower than 101° F).
Gather everything you'll need before you get into the tub, including baby products, washcloths and towels. If you forget something, skip it. Another day, another bath...or take your baby with you if you must have it now.
Solo time: Place your baby in a bouncy seat beside the bath or on the bath mat. Step into the water alone. Get in yourself, and then reach over for the little one. Better yet, have your partner hand you the baby once your settled in the tub.
Get comfy: Lay one down now so you don't slide around. Place your baby chest-down on top of your chest. Your baby will respond to your emotions. If you're calm and relaxed most likely you'll feel your baby relax and melt into your skin.
Safe and secure: Keep a hold of your baby the entire time you're in the tub. Are you both tired of the tummy to tummy position? Try bending your knees and letting your little one recline against your thighs facing you.
Keep baby wet and warm Start with a comfortable warm room. Then prevent chilling by pouring water over your baby's body from time to time. A plastic cup or wash cloth work well.
Make a safe exit. Place your baby into her bouncy seat and snuggle in a towel or hand her to someone else before you get out.
You can share this bonding experience with your now "water baby" for months to come. Of course, by then, taking a bath's more about water play than snuggling. Let's add some fun to the tub. Have a splash!
Add the play factor: Have some brightly colored, floating toys in the tub to play with. Definitely encourage splashing! Demonstrate and then guide in making small waves and splashes.
I'm BIG now! If your baby's at least six months old or has good head control, seat on your extended legs, facing out. This will make your baby feel like a big boy or girl and give better access to those toys!
Learn to float: If your baby doesn't panic, try relaxing on your extended legs, perhaps even floating a bit. Finish the bath chest-to-chest with your baby. Let those wee legs and arms float. Ah! Relaxation.
What makes bath time fun for your baby? Please share your tips and techniques.
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