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What makes bath time such a special time for both parent and child? And is there more to the magic of bath time than we know?
Almost all of us have that one photo of our little cherub, splashing away in the bath. Be it in a tub or standing near a bucket or even laid down on grandma’s legs – bath times for babies have always been special!
In a country like ours, pre bath and post bath rituals take centre stage in the baby care regimen, especially during infancy. I still remember how my mother carried ‘dhoop’ all the way from India to Zurich, when my first child was born. In our family, babies are ‘warmed up’ after their bath, by being held over the fragrant smoke of ‘dhoop’. Snuggling into my freshly bathed baby’s sweet ‘dhoop’ smelling hair, is one of the fondest memories I have of my daughter’s babyhood.
One of the most common bath rituals in India, is the pre-bath massage. Massages are known to relax and soothe babies. Nidhi Biyani, a chartered accountant with PwC, who has a 14 month old daughter says, “I give her an oil massage before bathing her, and typically she goes off to sleep during the massage. I bathe her after she is up and even otherwise she enjoys her shower only when she is not sleepy”.
Indeed, many new moms give babies a massage twice a day, because it helps babies sleep better. Three-month-old Rhea’s mother Shruti Baheti gives her a massage twice a day for this very reason. Mandavi Jaiswal, Director at citygoeslocal.com, would regularly give her son Aryan a massage twice a day, till he was one and a half years old. Other than being relaxing, massage time is a great time for parents to interact with the baby. As Shruti says “I make coo-ing sounds and funny faces while massaging, and she responds by laughing”.
Research has also shown that greater skin-to-skin contact between parents and children improves cognitive skills and sociability in them. Whichever way you look at it, massaging is a great way to spend quality time with your child.
Which brings us now to the main act: the Bath. It is the best time to have skin-to-skin, and eye-to-eye contact with lots of action and reaction thrown in. Splashing around in water is fun. Add to this a lot of bath toys and parental shenanigans – and it becomes an all-round blockbuster. Experts worldwide believe in exploring the role of multi-sensorial experience when it comes to the overall development of the baby.
To delve deeper into the “Science of Senses” and baby bath time rituals, JOHNSON’S® commissioned a Global Bath Time Report, conducted online by Harris Poll surveying more than 3,500 parents of young children in India and six other countries around the world. The study found that while 84% of parents globally say bath time is some of the best quality time they get with their child, many underestimate its power and impact this ritual has on cognitive development of babies.
According to the study, Indian parents are more apt to recognize the importance of eating well -balanced
meals (68% extremely important), talking to their child (63%), interacting with other children
(54%) and playing with learning toys (52%) for their child‟s brain development.
In the first few weeks, many parents are a bit tentative about bathing the baby. But almost always, time and experience slowly ebbs out the doubts. Jayati Kapadia, a Process Consultant and mother of a 18 month old has this to say: “It earlier seemed like an arduous task for me. Being a first time mom I was more worried about what I would do wrong instead of focusing on doing what came to my mind naturally. But slowly I gained confidence and watching him enjoy himself was a boost”. Jayati has also found a unique way to involve herself in her baby’s bath, even if she is not the one bathing him. She says, “Though now I do not do the actual bathing process on a daily basis, since he loves to listen to songs and rhymes during this time, I enact rhymes and songs. And that feels therapeutic and relaxing and it is also fun!”
Nidhi Biyani says, “Bath time is a lot of fun ..I put a lot of toys in her bathtub and give her a bath book that has animals in it. She gives them a shower exactly the way I give her. Whatever I do to her, she does to the animals in her book. I really enjoy this time with my little one when we are splashing water on each other, giggling on the soap foam that I purposely put on my face. In the bath I also recite shloks and a couple of bhajans… she claps her hand when I sing the bhajan. So bath time also becomes one of the most important times of the day when she knows that we sort of pray”. Which just goes to show that bathing is so much more than a cleansing exercise or a sensorial adventure. The time spent in a bath can also be used to interact and teach too.
And one needn’t invest in a whole family of rubber ducks and dolphins either, to make bath time happy. Minakshi Dixit, full time mommy to 16-month-old Raghav says that he plays “… not particularly with only his bath toys, but anything! From soap dishes to shampoo bottles…..just about anything”.
Babies grow out of their bathtubs pretty quickly. They soon transition into a phase when bath time is their private time – and parents will are no longer involved. In fact my seven-year-old daughter has entered this phase. I can hear her play-acting and singing inside the bathroom but I am no longer an active participant in her baths. This makes me appreciate the time I spend bathing my 18-month-old even more. I do the extra rub-a-dub-dub and a rather longish Jim Carrey impersonation, because I know that these times are precious – and we are making memories that we will cherish always.
This post is supported by JOHNSON’S®. To create awareness and inspire parents on healthy and happy baby care rituals and talk about the benefits of bath time JOHNSON’S® Presents the “Science Of Senses” to inspire parents on healthy baby care practices and development.
Nidhi is a freelance writer from Mumbai. She writes about Parenting, Lifestyle, Books, Women, Psychology & Communication. She is also the founder of city based website www.mumbaimom.com. She lives with her two children and read more...
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