Running an effective + easy bath time with babies + toddlers can feel like a version of the parent Olympics. We know this all too well firsthand.
As parent entrepreneurs, we want to enjoy bath time with our children as a happy bookend to the day. But what we’ve observed in so many entrepreneurial families, is that bath time can be a stressful experience with the opposite intended effects.
The reality is that many burned-out parent entrepreneurs find themselves having mixed feelings about bath time…
…feeling envious of their kids getting to have baths in the first place (wishing they were kicking their feet up in a bubble bath after a long day or having some dedicated self-care time!)...
…being hyper-focused on the grooming logistics (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, cradle cap solution, combing hair, clipping fingernails + toenails, the list continues…)…
…worrying about the cleanup mess of water + toys everywhere…
Pair that burnout with the “witching hours” of the early evening when most families are initiating the bathtime-bedtime routine + we have a recipe for overtired cranky meltdowns from all involved.
So, we set out to rewrite our definition + expectations of bath time so that our experience would serve us all productively instead of stress us out before sweet dreams. How can we be connecting with our littles in a fun, calming, bubble-filled way?
We found that when we changed from looking at bath time as a “must-do” to something that was “fun to do” + that could be a sleep cue tool, we were able to look forward to the positive connection time with our children + the sleepy effects that followed (regardless of whether or not we had showered yet as the adults!).
In this post, we’re sharing how we use bath time as a productive sleep cue for our young family:
P.S. — If you’re comfortable bathing with your baby — naked or in a bathing suit — then feel free to jump in there! Bathing with your babies is not gross or weird or inappropriate… it’s a natural wellness practice among many other mammals + a major productivity hack!
Essential Oil Scents
We put lavender scented epsom salts into the bath water which doubles as aromatherapy for all of us. The calming scent helps to lull our kids to sleep.
We buy pre-scented epsom salts or just add some essential oils to unscented epsom salts. Be sure to check essential oil safety guidelines before doing so, though, because we’re not experts on the specifics of those + quality essential oil sourcing MATTERS!
[Note: If you’re curious to learn more about essential oil safety, then I highly recommend connecting with Alexandra Ochando of Chronique vie Saine. She is a highly-trained aromatherapist + pharmacist from France who is also part of our OrganicFamilyCEO community. If you’re a member in there, say hi!]
These epsom salts from Pursoma are our favorites.
We add lavender to an essential oil diffuser in our bedroom where we practice safe bedsharing. The “lavender” scent has become our daughter’s “sleepy scent”, which automatically cues her to rest, just like holding a special blanket or listening to a special white noise would.
[Related: Bedsharing Safety Guidelines]
Music + Sound
When we aren’t playing classical music, we play a white noise track similar to our bedroom white noise machine by using our Amazon Prime Music app (which lets you download songs + play in offline mode).
This earlier sound association makes transitioning into bed easier for little ones, priming them that sleep time is coming soon.
Note #1: Be careful not to lull yourself to sleep if you’re in the bath with your child(ren). We would often relax so much that having the white noise play while in the bath could’ve been dangerous, so we stick to classical music which offers a bit more variation.
Note #2: If you haven’t gotten more than 5 hours of sleep the day before, then definitely don’t do the audio sleep cues!
Nurse in the Tub
Newsflash: There’s no rule that says you can’t nurse in the bathtub.
Courtney here to say: I actually loved nursing in the bath. I wouldn’t run the water higher than my belly button so that when I reclined against the back of the tub, I could cradle the baby in my arms + still have the baby’s head well above water.
The skin-to-skin comfort pumps oxytocin for both mom + baby, so the mother’s milk supply is boosting, the baby is getting a strong feed + you’re both flushed with happy hormones. We believe a bath-breastfeed is one of the best feeds to have consistently.
Tip: If you’re having a tough time with boosting your breastmilk supply, running warm-hot water over your breasts when you get in + out of the shower can help!
Getting Out Routine
Children thrive in orderly environments, so having a getting-out-of-the-tub routine is a great way to meet that need.
Since our toddler daughter is old enough, we ask her to help us “pull the plug” + we clean up bath toys as the water goes down the drain.
Then we repeat, “Kick your feet! Kick your feet! Kick your feet!” as we lift her up out of the tub + do a gentle rocking back + forth as we say “Drip dry! Drip dry! Drip dry!”
We get so many laughs from those 2 silly little repeated lines!
The Honest Company sells sleep diapers with sheep printed on them + apart from the extra absorbency of these diapers, the visual cue that it’s time for a sleep diaper helps skip any explaining or toddler negotiating. Sheep diaper = sleep diaper because we wear them before we go to sleep.
If you’re taking a daytime bath to break up those long first-year days, then bath time can be the prerequisite to a nap + you should still dress the baby in pajamas to keep the routine consistent.
Simply change into play clothes when you do the wake-up diaper change to signal that it’s waking time. The one extra step pays dividends, trust us!
We’d love to know: How do you link bath time with sleep time?
What have you tried to make transitions easier? What questions do you have about essential oils, nursing in the tub, or having a “getting out routine”?
These are some of the parent CEO conversations we’re having inside of The OrganicFamilyCEO Community – our virtual membership for parent entrepreneurs building family-centered, online-based businesses. If you’re interested in a more productive parenthood as a CEO, then consider joining us!