Sometimes getting a toddler into the bath is like trying to bathe a cat. They claw, scratch, and fight to be free before the soap has even entered the scene. Others are like little guppies, happily splashing about and even trying to eat the soap. I have one of each, one splashing the other and her sister angry as a hatter. The solution is Momma’s best weapon, redirection. Add fun in the format of paints, toys, or games and you have an instant party, not a fight.
A tub full of water cannot be seen if there is a tub full of fun. Adding pit balls to the bath hides the water while the bright colors engage the babies, giving them the distraction you need to get them clean. I acquired the pit balls from a vendor on Craig’s List, selling the balls as a pack of 100 for five dollars. I bought two packs for another playtime activity, and in desperation one evening fighting with my baby we will call the little kitten, I threw all of the pit balls into the bath. The look on their faces was priceless. My splasher said “Oh!” and started kicking her fat feet. My little kitten’s eyes were wide and so full of wonder. What was this that Momma put into the tub? The crying stopped and I could almost see the gears turning in her head as she picked up a purple ball and turned it around in her hands. She smiled a huge smile and yelled “Yea!” at the top of her lungs. Then and there the war was won in a single battle. We now keep one bag of the balls in an Ikea tub in the bathroom next to the tub. They love to add the balls one by one and come running as soon as they hear the water running in the bath, so full of excitement. We now add them by color. I will ask them to help me put in all the yellow balls, find me the yellow balls, holding up a yellow balls then putting it into the tub. They watch then repeat what I do. Each time I add the yellow balls I say “yellow”. Now you and I both know that a 20 month old cannot say complex sounds like yellow, but it begins to set the tone and their memory for colors.
With all the balls in the tub and babies happily splashing, I read a story about colors or shapes. Our current favorite is an Eric Carle, My Very First Book of Shapes. This book combines ten shapes on the top half and ten examples of those shapes in the lower half. The pages in the top and bottom half turn separately as the example shapes are out-of-order, allowing them to match the shape with their example. Another favorite is a tactile board book called Splish Splash edited by Shannon Beatty. The pages of this one are meant to be interactive, shiny, sparkly, soft, and bumpy, they love to touch the pictures and try to say the words. Other books in our bath collection include the waterproof books about ducks and other water animals. Try a search at your favorite bookstore for waterproof books for babies for a surprising selection.
Nothing says fun for babies like squirting water at you while they splash. It is even more fun if you enjoy it and laugh and giggle too. Bath squirter toys come shaped like animals of the sea, starfish, seahorses, whales, dolphins, and even spiky little puffer fish. Brightly colored and bumpy, they make excellent tactile toys as well as a fun bathtime toy. The toy is designed with a hole wide enough to allow baby hands to fill the toy with water but narrow enough to produce a small, steady stream of water. We started with me filling the toys with water and gently squirting them on their bellies to allowing them to squirt the water, usually along the walls of the bath or out onto the floor. Squirting Momma with the water is a new game, started by accident, and my reaction of “Oh No!” was exactly what they needed to make them smile and giggle. Now I make sure I don’t wear any nice shirts when they have the squirters. I ask them what colors their toy is, “Is it pink?” “Is the seahorse green?” Then we splash the animal into the water and swim it around.
Painting the Bath
There are alot of non-toxic paints commercially available but you can easily make your own at home. Liquid soap, cornstarch, and water with food coloring makes an excellent paint that they can use on their bodies without staining. Use an old baby food jar or small glass mason jar to store your paint. I use one quarter cup of liquid soap, two tablespoons of cornstarch, and food coloring to your desired color intensity. To thin the new paint, you can add one tablespoon of water and mix well. I like to use Castille soap which is thinner than some of the other body soaps on the market so the amount of water you add would be relative to the thickness of the soap. Your new paint will not stain your tub or your baby’s skin and is a fun body paint with a purpose. Make several colors and encourage body painting everywhere except their faces. Now all you will need is a wet washcloth to finish the bath. Bright colors such as neon pink or red did faintly stain my girls skin when left on for long periods but rinsed away clean following a pre-bedtime massage in coconut oil.
My Very First Book of Shapes Board book – May 19, 2005
by Eric Carle (Author, Illustrator)
Age Range: 1 – 3 years
Board book: 20 pages
Publisher: Philomel Books; Brdbk edition (May 19, 2005)
Baby Touch and Feel: Splish! Splash! (Baby Touch & Feel) Board book – December 17, 2012
Grade Level: Preschool and up
Age Range: Baby Touch & Feel
Board book: 14 pages
Publisher: DK Children; Mus Brdbk edition (December 17, 2012)
INTEX Fun Ballz – 100 Pack
100 pack of brightly colored plastic balls
Red, yellow, blue, orange, green and purple
Ball diameter: 3.125″
Ages: 3+ years
Part Number: 49600EP
Babywearing, cloth diapering, breastfeeding twin Momma sharing my insights.