By the time you reach the end of an exhausting day, a bath can be an easy thing to skip. Can it actually play a pivotal role in your little one’s sleep though?
At The Mama Coach, we know just how important routines are for little ones. Even young babies benefit from them! Bedtime routines that include a bath, are a great place to start with your little one. A bath is the one activity that will help them to differentiate day from night. This does not mean, however, that you have to bathe your child every night. You can also use a nice, warm washcloth on their face and hands to create a similar feeling. If you are worried about your baby’s skin becoming too dry- this is a good option. Including a bath as part of your little one’s bedtime routine will also help to queue them that bedtime is coming!
What exactly does a bath do, besides let little ones know bedtime is coming?
Baths can help little ones to relax and unwind at the end of the day. A lot of babies love the feeling of the warm water. It is thought by some that this is a comforting reminder for them of what it was like inside the womb. Parents may also find that a bath is a helpful way to calm a fussing baby. When our daughter was a baby, she would be fussy later in the day- until she heard the bath water running! Once we turned the tap on, it was enough to calm her down, as she knew she would be in the tub shortly!
Furthermore, baths help with lowering core body temperature. As it turns out, a dip in core body temperature is one of the most important sleep triggers. Once baby is placed in the bath tub, the warm water causes blood to circulate to their hands and feet. Once their extremities become warmer, their core body temperature decreases slightly. Naturally, our body temperatures do dip at night, which in turn, helps to trigger the brain’s sleep mechanism. Since baths help to do this as well, it is always worth a try to incorporate this into part of your little one’s bedtime routine! When our body temperatures dip at night, this not only tells our brain to prepare for sleep, but also allows us to get into a deeper and better sleep.
How Soon Can You Start Bathing Your Baby?
If you have a newborn, The World Health Organization recommends waiting 24 hours until you give baby their first bath. Babies used to be bathed within a couple of hours of being born, but nowadays, most hospitals recommend waiting at least 12 hours. This is due to recent research showing that babies are benefiting from a delayed bath. When babies are born, they have a special coating over their skin called vernix. Vernix helps protect babies from infection. As an added bonus, vernix acts as a moisturizer when we allow it time to absorb. Delaying baby’s first bath also allows them time to regulate their body temperature by doing lots of skin to skin. By giving them time to do so, their body temperature will be less likely to drop when they are bathed for the first time. Babies also tend to be less stressed during their first bath if we give them some time to adjust to their new outside world.
When Should You Start Trying to Incorporate a Bath Into a Bedtime Routine?
When babies are fresh into the world, majority do not like their baths! It gets better though! As they get a little older, bath time is often a part of their day that they look forward to and love! Once baby is around 3-4 months old, this can be a great time to include a bath in their bedtime routine. We know how a bath can help with baby’s sleep… and as far as routines go, studies have shown that a bedtime routine can significantly improve both the child’s sleep and mother’s quality of life. What a win-win!