The importance of bath time

Bath time's important for baby (and you)

New research by JOHNSON'S® reveals that many parents are unaware of the benefits of bath time for baby's brain development, child psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin explains the connection


The research found that parents in the UK recognise the importance of bath time; perhaps why they spend more time bathing their children than any other country in the survey (taking 25 minutes from start to finish vs. 20 minutes globally), and say they think bath time is a good bonding experience (47%) with their child.

Other findings include:

1. By the age of three, 85% of a baby's brain is developed - bath time is important for providing multi-sensorial experiences that can lead to happy, healthy baby development.

2. Parents around the world (84%) say bath time is some of the best quality time they get with their children, yet many underestimate the proven cognitive benefits bath time offers - just over a third (37%) of UK parents see it as extremely important to brain development

3. The So Much More™ campaign highlights that bath time is a ritual that gives parents an opportunity to nurture their baby's ability to learn, think, love and grow.

But more than the obvious bonding benefits of bath time for mum and baby, there are some real benefits for baby's development. We asked child psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin to explain more.

1. Can you explain how bath time directly helps baby brain development?

Bath time provides a unique opportunity for multi-sensory learning with parents. Babies can learn about cause and effect as they splash the water and see the results, practice fine motor skills as they play with the bubbles, and it can also help with a developing sense of object permanence (the awareness that something exists even if you can't see it) when a toy is hidden under the bubbles and appears again.

2. How else does bath time aid child development?

JOHNSON'S® research showed that the vast majority of parents in the UK did not take their mobile phones into the bathroom for bath time. This means that bath time is a valuable tech-free interaction time for babies and parents. As parents bathe their babies, they chat and sing to them. Research has previously shown that the more a baby is talked to one on one, the larger their vocabulary, by the age 2 tends to be.

3. What baby massage techniques can be applied during bath time?

Before or after a bath is an ideal time for baby massage. Make sure the room is warm enough and baby is in the mood for a massage (i.e. not fretful or tired). Either with a little oil or just with bare hands, stroke in circular movements your baby's legs, shoulders, neck, tummy, arms. Gaze at your baby the whole time. This means you can also watch your baby to see what they like and what they don't like. Some areas, such as their tummy, may lead to giggles rather than relaxation. Don't feel you have to know about a special technique for these massages - just watch your baby to find out what their preference is. Keep it short. If your baby prefers you can also do this in the bath, where they may well be feeling even more relaxed.

4. How do these help?

Baby massage is a strong bonding experience for babies and their parents. It offers an opportunity for a mum or dad and their baby to share an intimate few moments of relaxation. Baby massage is linked with babies feeling more relaxed and it helps parents to feel closer to their babies.

5. Is there a link between bath time and helping baby sleep better?

A bedtime routine helps your baby to learn about the patterns around bed time. As they pick up on the cues of this routine, they will start to expect sleep and will therefore fall asleep easier. Bath time can be an essential part of this routine. Warm water and a focused interaction with parents will help a baby to feel soothed and tired. JOHNSON'S® research also found a link between a fragranced bath and babies falling asleep quicker and with less crying.


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