1) At a Glance
Parents know that bath time is some of the best quality time that they get with their child, but many underestimate its power and benefits, tells cognitive psychologist Dr. Charles Spencer. “According to the JOHNSON’s Global Bath Time Report, the global average time spent bathing a baby is 23 minutes, adding up to 10 hours a month, making bath time a great opportunity for parents to stimulate their baby’s senses,” he says. “That said, few parents understand that the multisensory relaxing ritual of stimulation of the sense of touch and smell, combined with the sound of splashing or singing will arouse parts of a child’s brain.”
According to Dr. Spencer, the most well-documented and biggest benefits of stimulating a baby’s senses are improved sleep quality and a more relaxed state of mind for the child. “In fact, establishing a bath time routine turns out to be as
important for the primary caregiver as it is for the child,” he says while the face-to-face and skin contact cements the bond
and cultivates parental love.
Following bath time with rhythmic baby massage is key to stimulating the senses, tells Dr. Spencer. “Touch is perhaps
the most potent emotional sense and, accounting for 18 percent of body mass, the skin constitutes by far the biggest
sensory surface for stimulation,” he explains. “The slow stroking of the hairy skin, which is all of the skin excluding palms of the hand and soles of the feet, through baby massage can deliver real benefits in terms of soothing the baby into a more relaxed state of mind, aiding digestion and improving circulation.” Recent research also suggests that it can help weight gain in premature babies as well.
4) Avoid Overstimulation
While multisensorial stimulation is important, Dr. Spencer warns parents must be careful not to overload a child’s senses.
“Everything is unknown for a baby and new experiences can be overwhelming, resulting in fidgeting, sleeplessness, or a lack of attention,” he says, and in fact, it is difficult to qualify ‘too much stimulation’ and it will be a process of trial and
error for each family. He advises that it is essential, though, to try and deliver a balanced diet of sensory stimulation and that means primarily focusing on sight and sound, but at the same time not neglecting the more emotional senses such as touch, smell, and taste. Setting a regular pattern of engaging multiple senses can help establish a healthy balance.