How to bathe an infant and a toddler

Therapist Julie Wright, MFT offers suggestions on how to make bath time a fun bedtime ritual
Parenting Advice | Making bath time fun for an infant or toddler
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How to bathe an infant and a toddler

The end of the day is typically a really difficult time for parents. Everybody's tired. Everybody's cranky. You can't wait at this point to get them in bed. So it's really an important time to plan ahead to make sure you have a routine. One thing I love to help parents do, which helps lead babies and children into sleep is what we call wind down time. We start to set the stage for the entire household winding down and what this looks like is dimming the lights, putting on some soft music. Maybe you put on some comfortable clothes or pj's, and you let your child know what's coming. You create a little routine around getting ready for the bath that they get used to. The other thing that helps alot with bath time is timing it so that you know that you're actually going to get them into bed on time. We know that holding a strong bedtime leads to better sleep. If your partners home, it's a good opportunity for each of you to have one on one time with each child, so the baths can be separate if you have two children. If you're home alone with two children and you're getting ready to bathe them, there's several different things you can do. If your baby can be worn in a carrier, you can wear your baby while you bathe your toddler. You could put your toddler outside the bathroom door with some interesting toys or cardboard boxes and have her play while you bathe the baby. One of my favorites is to have the toddler help bathe the baby if your toddler is open to it. They can help you squeeze out the soap or make funny faces to make the baby laugh. There are lots of solutions to doing this. The one that I like the least is handing your toddler an iPad or a tablet, or putting them in front of the television. I know that it's tempting but I always ask parents try it, see what happens if you don't do it because during those times that you don't turn on the screens, you figure out what your child does with their imagination and with their curiosity, and they also learn to tolerate frustration, and to become a significant part of the family if they're able to help you a little bit. So bath time can be very stressful. The more fun you can make it, the more planned you are, and the more you have it down to a routine, the better it will feel.

Therapist Julie Wright, MFT offers suggestions on how to make bath time a fun bedtime ritual


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Julie Wright, MFT

Psychotherapist & Author

Julie Wright, MFT is a marriage and family therapist with an extensive background in infant mental health and early childhood development.  She trained at Cedars Sinai Early Childhood Center and co-developed a program for parents and babies from 0-3 at LA Child Guidance Clinic. Julie specializes in mindful parenting, sleep issues and attachment theory.  She also works in private practice with infants, children, parents and adults.  Julie lives in Los Angeles with her son and often visits family on the east coast.

Julie has written the book, "The Happy Sleeper," Penguin 2014 with her colleague, Heather Turgeon, MFT. The Happy Sleeper gives the topic of baby sleep a fresh perspective. Their approach moves beyond old school ideas like “sleep training”—it’s grounded in research and shaped by new thinking. The Happy Sleeper gives you a clear, easy-to-follow system for transferring the role of independent sleep to your capable child, as they have done for thousands of families in their clinical practice.

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