How To Turn Bath Time Into Sensory Play

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Sensory play with babies doesn’t have to be complicated. Your daily routines are already providing sensory rich experiences for your baby. We are still parenting in the midst of a pandemic- you do not HAVE to, or NEED to, spend hours or dollars curating sensory experiences for your little one. However, if you find yourself feeling playful, creative, or ready to shake things up, you can enhance the sensory experience of an already existing routine with a few playful tweaks that will turn bath time into sensory play.

Bath time is my favorite daily routine to infuse sensory experiences into. Remember, your baby is already experiencing the noise of the water filling the tub, the sensations of warm and cold, and the feel of the cloth washing their skin. Here is a list of my favorite ways to enhance the sensory experience of bath time for the tiniest humans.

Sight

  • Add color to the bath water with a bath bomb or a tiny bit of food coloring even. Babies have especially sensitive skin so choose based on your child’s own needs.
    • Try this local soap maker for my favorite skin friendly bath bombs and solid bubble bath: https://sylviassudsery.com/
    • Tubby Todd has high quality fizzy bath bomb and bath products too https://tubbytodd.com/collections/baby-bath-products/products/monthlytubbyboxsubscription?variant=42136068816
    • Dim the lights and add glow sticks inside the bath. You could also use a flashlight, night light, or projector (out of the bath) to put pictures on the wall during bath time. Just keep electronics away from the bath water and keep your attention on your baby for safety.
      • Mother Earth Baby Boutique in Old Town sells these adorable Glo Pals to plop right in the tub: 
      • Echo Glow can do a wide range of colors and features and enhance the spa mood for you little one with visually stimulating features.

Smell

  • Choose calming scented soap or lotion if you use essential oils in your house. Here is one of my favorites.
  • Perhaps an oil diffuser in the bathroom using safe scents for you baby might be something to try. Here is an article about safe usage of essential oils with babies (they are not recommended to be put into the water/tub with them).

Touch

  • Add different textured sensory balls to the bathtub. Use what you already have, or buy a loofa just for baby! If you are seeking out a few new ones for bath time and beyond- here are my favorites:
  • Try using a textured bath mat for in or outside the tub. Think about how the rubbery texture of a bath mat will help with less slipping, but also adds different texture to touch and feel.  A chenille bath rug made with long loops will be different from your standard mat and also be an opportunity for sensory exploration during a little bit of tummy time while drying out after bath.

Sound

  • Play music during bath time or even better, sing together with your baby. The sides of the tub work great as a drum or see what bath toys you have around you to use as percussion instruments. Even a simple wooden spoon and bowl make great bath toys and musical instruments.

Taste

  •  Let baby 6 months and up explore edible paint in the bath before you fill up the tub. Instant clean up after, and no artwork to worry whether you should save it or not. Your child can become extra messy, which is a bonus for accepting new textures and taste during the learning to eat process.  Also, the no pressure opportunity to taste might be enticing for a baby hesitant to try solids.  Clean your tub well before adding in one of these fun options with paint brushes or even a baster brush.
    • Try this recipe: https://busytoddler.com/2015/10/cool-whip-painting/
    • Mix baby cereal very thin and add food coloring
    • Use a few different colors of baby food level 1 (beets, sweet potato, peas)

Vestibular

  • Play splash and stop by encouraging your baby to splash and freeze. The unexpected water splashing upon their face will increase not only their sensory experience, but add in some cause/effect cognitive play as well. As they become active in the bath, they are working their balance and figuring out where they are in space.

Proprioception

  • Use your favorite lotion to massage as you sing, chant, or talk to your baby. 
    • Step by Step Guide is a simple video to give basic instructions on infant massage to get you started.

Your baby is just beginning to explore their world and the senses increase their understanding.  Expect your child to mouth, touch, pull at, look at, and inspect things around them as part of typical growth and development. You can encourage safe exploration throughout your day by offering routines based sensory experiences that activate each of the senses.

Head to pathways.org for more information on sensory integration for infants and to learn more about the 7 sensory systems at work in your developing infant. If you are looking for more practical ways to make daily routines fun, check out @earlyinterventionmama on Instagram or sign up for a local Lansing caregiver and me class on earlyinterventionmama.com.

Happy playtime!

 

 

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