History records Isaac Newton as a genius but most toddlers can tell you what will happen if you drop a ball! OK, so gravity wasn't merely the observation that things fall, so much as the reasoning as to why, but introducing such basic concepts to young children genuinely is laying the foundation for a scientific education. Next time you are bathing your little ones, take some time out to look at floating and sinking. Add a number of waterproof toys into the bath and see which ones float, and which ones sink? Can you find objects that float when they are bobbed on the surface but that sink when filled with water?
Bathtime presents a fabulous opportunity for little ones to explore water and its properties. Make sure that as well as experimenting, you talk with your little ones; discuss what they are observing and if you can explain it simply, then do so.
Pumice stones are items that you naturally expect to find in a bathroom. Pumice is extraordinary - it is volcanic in origin, created when superheated rock is spewed from a volcano that then cools very rapidly - usually because the volcano errupted underwater. Although it is a rock, it floats in water, so it's a wonderfully confusing item to play with at bathtime, and when you've had enough fun watching it float, you can use it to scrub your little ones clean...good, practical fun!
Get some fun into your every day routine with these sparky ideas to perk up the most mundane activities...
Bathtime fun: If bathtime ever begins to get tiresome, why not play hair dressers and use the suds from the baby shampoo to make fun hairstyles with your baby's hair! Show what they look like with a plastic mirror and see their reaction to looking like an alien!
Changing roles: why not encourage your little one to look after you for a while. Get them to cuddle you, wrap you in a blanket on a comfy chair, stroke your hand or forehead etc. Or, see if they will tuck you into bed for a pretend nap and sing you a bedtime song. They will love it!
Picture book: Look through old pictures and choose some to make a big family book full of family photos. You could add a collage and stick the pictures onto card and mount them with glue. Frame the collage and see how much fun you have naming all the relations and seeing how they are related to each other! You could set it out like a family tree!
Dinner time: Pretend you are in a restaurant and set out the table with a table cloth or a bunch of flowers. Pretend to take orders and bring in the food like a waitress. Don't forget the bill at the end!
Bath toys can turn a fairly boring part of nighttime routine into a bit of an adventure - there are so many fun toys, games and ways to make bathtime interesting, why not treat your children to a new experience every few weeks?!
So you don't think there's room for doing craft in the bath? Wrong! Older children will love bath crayons which can be used for drawing on the inside of the bath. Rub them out after bath as otherwise they can be more difficult to remove, and if left too long, may stain permanently. Younger children will enjoy foam shapes, letters and numbers that adhere to the side of the bath when wet. All of these are widely available in toy shops.
Many more traditional toys allow children to play with water, experimenting with pouring, flowing and other properties. Bath toys can be quite expensive, so look at the value you think you'll get from the toy before buying. Well designed toys will teach children about the properties of flowing water, and of course, will offer hours of fun!
Bubbles and Potions
Children love bubbles, bath colourings and fizzy bath bombs or balls which you will find in most supermarkets and chemists. Do be aware that bubbles may dry your children's skin if they have sensitive skin so use a new formula with caution. You should find bubbles formulated for gentle skin but you may find even these aren't good for your little ones.
Your children may be more receptive to having their faces washed if they have fun flannels, and none are more fun than the magic expanding flannels that come as small dry blocks and unpack into full size flannels in water. These are widely available from toy shops and supermarkets, and make a great little stocking filler at Christmas time!
Today's children are spoiled for choice in the sheer array of bath toys on offer! Brighten up bathtime and have your children look forward to their evening dip, as much as anything, it will help make routine easier for you!
We're all used to keeping height measurements for our little ones, but how about something a bit more unusual - here's a great science experiment you can do at bathtime and log growth over time! How large are your toddlers lungs?!
Get hold of a plastic measuring jug (don't be tempted to use a glass jug) and a straw for bathtime. Bendy straws that bend towards one end are perfect for this experiment.
Fill the jug completely with water by submersing it in the bath. Now turn it upside down and slowly lift it out of the water until it is almost completely proud of the water level. You'll notice that pressure keeps the jug full of water even though the column of water rises higher than the water level in the bath. The only way that the water will fall is if you lift the rim of the jug above the water level, at which point the water will cascade out very quickly!
Get the jug to a position where it is filled with water and standing above the water level with the rim still just submerged. Take the straw and place it so that the one end of the straw is under the mouth of the jug with the other out of the water. If you have a 'bendy' straw, bend the end and point the short end up into the jug, and hold the long end clear of the water.
Have your children take a deep breath in and then blow as much air as they can from their lungs into the straw. Younger children may need to practice a bit to master the technique of blowing out fully.
The air blown out will displace the water in the jug and when they are done, you can read off the measurement on the side of the jug to tell the volume of air displaced. Teach older children how to read the quantity by looking at the scale on the side of the jug. You'll be quite surprised at just how much air they can hold! Take a note of measurements and repeat it every couple of months to see how your little ones are growing!
If you are nervous about handling you new baby and giving him or her your first bath, do not fear - you are not alone. Most new parents are nervous of that dreaded first bath - but rest assured it gets easier! Confidence will grow as you become more experienced.
For the first few weeks you can give baby a wipe over (a "top and tail") with wet cotton wool to keep them fresh. Baby's don't sweat so don't need to be bathed every day. However, it is nice to get into a routine of having a bath before bed and if you take things slowly, and approach bath-time in a calm and relaxed way, both of you may come to enjoy it as a great chance to spend quality time together... and have some fun!
The most important thing is to have all you need at hand. Make sure before you start everything is within easy reach: face cloth, towel, clean nappy, wipes, any cream and fresh clothes. It's not safe to leave baby alone for a second, so get it all ready in advance. Fill the bath with cold water first then add a tiny amount of hot. The water should be only be tepid rather than hot. This avoids the chance of scalding. You could warm the towel on a radiator if you have one nearby.
Bathing a very small baby can be easy if you follow a simple routine.
- Undress baby and lower feet first into the water. Support the head and neck and lower into a comfortable and supported "sitting" position.
- When you are both comfortable, splash water onto baby's body with your spare hand.
- Continue to chat as you do so. Make lots of eye contact and show baby you're having fun too!
- When you are finished, gently take baby out, wrap in a warm towel and pat dry. Dress warmly and have a cuddle!
It does get easier as baby gets older and establishing good habits early is a a great thing to do.
Bathtime can be a stressful time of the day, everyone's tired, the bathroom can be a hostile environment, and the children may simply detest water - what can you do?! Bathing is an important aspect of raising healthy children, so the key is to make it an enjoyable experience and a regular part of the bedime routine.
Unless your children have particularly dry skin you can bathe them every day and use bathtime as a signal to relax and wind down for the day. Even at this stage of the day you can introduce games and craft and even if your children don't take to water naurally, with a bit of distraction they'll come to enjoy bathtime and even come to love it!
Bath toys are readily available from toy stores and supermarkets. Even if toys aren't designed specifically for educational purposes, simply having toys and water will lead to natural learning. Your children will discover the properties of water, how it flows, how objects sink or swim and lots more. Simply playing with water teaches children so many lessons.
Why not make your own soaps to encourage the children to clean themselves? This is an activity before bath; soap making kits are readily available from craft and toy stores. Make sure any kits state that the soaps are suitable for children as soaps can be caustic and irritate the skin, and make them up as instructed. Add your own essential oils for a variety of scents.
Bath crayons are oil based crayons that you can use to draw and scribble on the side of the bath and also available from toy stores. They are waterproof and scrub off easily (although best to clean them straight after the bath as they can become harder to scrub off if left for days!). Young babies will enjoy scribbling, older children will love to draw pictures and practice writing their name, numbers and letters.
If you like to make your own craft materials, you can even make your own bathtime paints. Mix a mild, baby shampoo with cornstarch and a couple of drops of food colouring. Make up several colours and you'll have a fun and safe paint to paint on your bath. Make sure you wipe the paints away as soon as you finish bath because food colouring really could stain if you leave it for too long!
Having a bath can be a lovely calming way to end the day. Warm, bubbly water swishing around your relaxed, little water cherub. Or maybe not! If your little one is getting a little too confident in the bath - trying to stand up, splashing the water everywhere or trying to bail out the bathwater onto the floor - then try a few distracting activities to keep them focused.
Have some plastic cups and bowls for them to play with - perhaps some plastic spoons too. Get them to make some cups of tea with the water or just pour the water from one to the other. Put a few drops of food colouringinto the bath and watch the water turn a lovely color. If you have some empty plastic bottles, fill them with the water and show your little one how to blow into the bottle to make a musical note...
And, of course, get them singing in the bathroom. The echoes you get in the bathroom make it more fun. Try fun sounds or sing songs like "This Piggy Went To Market" and try to catch their toes under the bubbles. "One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I caught Alive" is another good bath song and "It's raining, its pouring!".
Don't dread having a bath - make it fun and you'll all love bathtime!