For babies to toddlers, bath time is the most fun time of the day. It is the time I also look forward to as it is my true one to one time with my child. Seeing them splash around in the bathtub, gurgling and laughing is a stress buster.
In our busy schedule and dabbling ten different things throughout the day, I find that I have very little productive time with my little one. But his next milestones and development goals are never far from my thoughts. So, of late, I have been trying to work on developing certain skills while giving my son, who is all of the twenty-one months, a bath. I know it sounds like serious business but it is not, I wouldn’t want to ruin the fun for either one of us. Do read on and you’ll see for yourself.
Learn and play with bath toys
It is a common practice to give our kids bath toys during bathtime. Let us talk about this before I move on to the other ideas. Bath toys are great tools to encourage gross motor skills. Squishing them, catching them, and setting them afloat improves a child’s grasping skills. We can teach them animal names and their sounds while playing with them. We have used the Munchkin Squirtin' Barnyard Friends Bath Toys for both our boys. Some of the toys are even designed to develop hand-eye coordination like Nuby Octopus Bath Toss Toy, which includes one floating octopus and three rings to throw. Squirting bath toys teach their little minds the lesson of cause and effect.
I have left the alphabets and numbers out of the bath but you can go ahead and introduce them to your child in the playful setting of a bathtub.
Improve gross motor skills
Ideally, this one is for the sand and beaches. But, this year we hardly ventured out of our houses, let alone spending leisurely summer afternoons on the beach. We all have these dollar store sand play buckets and toys. So, I noticed that my toddler is not able to fill the bucket with a water cup. He spills most of the water outside, hence the bucket is never full. Every bath time, I hand him a small cup and the bucket so that he can scoop water (not sand) and fill the bucket. Ultimately, I hope that he would be able to develop this motor skill.
Develop receptive language
This is the part of communication where the child carries out what is told to him. As they grow, directions would increase from one step to two-step and also in complexities. I find that my toddler is very vocal in asking for toys or whatever is on his agenda, but he lags when it comes to following instructions. Nowadays, I ask him to hand over bath toys to me. Sometimes I ask him to splash or swim. He will eventually learn to follow directions. This will help also him develop imaginary play skills vital for language development.
Introduce the concept of hot, cold, warm
This is a step we do which is also supplemented throughout the day with food items. While filling the bath-tub, before we put him in the tub, we let him check the water and we comment either “Too cold!” or “Too hot!” or “Perfect, warm!”. This is simply modeling some language for the child, but additionally, we are teaching him the feeling of cold and hot. We also are teaching him about the faucets, and which one to use for hot water and which one for cold.
If he is playing in the kitchen, while reach for the bag of frozen peas, I comment “Very cold, frozen!”. Likewise, when I pour tea in a cup, I comment “Very hot, steaming hot!”. He has picked up a few phrases that he comments as soon as he sees a cup or sees me open the freezer.
Encourage early speech development
A few commonly used phrases can be very easily modeled and taught as a part of a daily routine like bath-time. We have been trying to repeat a few every day like “knock-knock”, “dry my hair”, “wash my face”, “all done” (with sign), “more” (with sign), and “5 more minutes”.
If you give your child an oil massage or/ and apply body lotion before or after a bath, use this opportunity to introduce the basic body parts. My son picked up most of the body part names organically over time. Needless to say, we are working on the same idea with clothing items. In time, this will help us introduce the visual schedule for dressing up for outdoors.
Develop Fine Motor Skills
We have xeroed in on two simple activities. He is given his brush and I take mine. With the help of the mirror, I model the correct way of bruising teeth. As of now, he simply enjoys chewing on the brush and swallowing the pea-sized toothpaste smear. Nonetheless holding the toothbrush, putting it inside his mouth, washing it under the tap, washing his hands, all these are excellent motor skills. He opens the faucets in the sink while standing on toes on the stepping tool. Of course, all these are closely supervised by one of us.
Once he brushes his teeth, I let him brush his hair, which is merely an imitation without any actual combing happening. But these activities will help him develop his fine motor skills and eventually his writing skills will depend on these foundation skills.
Beyond learning, the emotional bonding is known to develop during these intimate interactions. Adequate exercise, healthy apetite and sound sleep are also benefits of a long and active bath time for kids.
Most all of us are already doing these little things throughout the day with our kids. But I thought of clubbing all these different aspects of development under a common head to . These ideas are strictly for the moms who like me are struggling to get through the day, and needs quick and effective ways to get things done. I can assure you that you will see your toddler improve and all in a day’s play.