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5/1/2013
The Wonder of the Bath
The Wonder of the Bath

Make Your Bathroom a Sanctuary

In our busy lives, the bathroom is a place where we can go for rest, for rejuvenation and for nurturing ourselves and our families.

Most children love their time in the bathroom, a place to relax in the water, experience the wonder and magic of bubbles, and for feeling clean and safe. It is a place where children learn to care for their own bodies.

Bath time can be part of a child’s rhythm, a refreshing way to end the day. It offers parents an additional opportunity to pay attention to and care for their children. Surprisingly, it is also possible to have more baths than may be healthy for a child’s delicate skin. A child’s ability to balance his or her body temperature is put to use during bath time, and if the child’s health is already compromised — through colds, the flu, fevers or through over-tiredness or cold weather — then a bath may be too taxing.

I had that experience myself. It was a cold New York winter, and my boys loved their evening bath, a daily dose of water play. But I found that they were getting sick, a lot. A doctor recommended that I cut down on the constant bathing in the wintertime. And I tried it. And they stopped getting sick so often.

A Time for Teaching

Bath time offers parents the opportunity to teach their child how to care for his or her own body, brush teeth, and wash hands and faces. It also gives children the opportunity to do things for themselves, to be independent and capable. Using Weleda Children’s Tooth Gel nightly is one way to help children get started on the right track with oral care. Made with natural silica and calendula extract, it’s healthy and yummy, too.

Choose soap and cleansers that are safe and nourishing, made of essential oils and natural ingredients. Take the opportunity to care for your child in a loving manner with the simple act of washing hands before meals. Warm water on a washcloth with a drop of lavender oil can be gently rubbed over the child’s little fingers, making hand washing before meals a tender and caring experience. Instead of a chore, theses daily duties can be viewed as opportunities for love and kindness.

Furnish the bathroom in a manner that is child-friendly: a stool by the sink allows children to be independent in the bathroom. Plenty of towels for drying hands and sopping up spills is helpful. A few bath toys — some little fish, a wooden water whistle, some sail boats — can make bathing a happy and cherished event.

Awakening all the Senses

Essential oils nurture the senses and bath time is an opportunity to enjoy their benefits. Lavender, chamomile, and mandarin are just a few of the oils that are safe for little ones. Add just a couple of drops to a carrier such as sweet almond oil or whole milk, and swish it around in the water before the children get in. Or try Weleda Calendula Cream Bath, which is perfect for washing babies and children. It is soft, creamy and nourishing to the skin.

Parents can greatly affect the physical and mental health of their children by consciously incorporating touch into their daily interaction with them. Touch is important for children, and it can be nurtured through bathing, cuddling, tickling and bed-time massage. Weleda Calendula Oil is a favorite at my house for massage — it soothes and relaxes before bedtime. Touch includes washing a child’s hair, rubbing him or her dry with a towel, gently rough-housing, swinging a child around (safely) and skin brushing. Through touch, children wake up. It helps children learn his or her boundaries, to become aware of his or her own body.

Me Time Too

The bathroom is the place to pay attention to our own outer and inner beauty, to care of our body, soul and spirit. For adults and children alike, the bathroom should be a private, nurturing space. For a mother with young children, it might be the only place where she can be alone to rest and rejuvenate. We need to care for ourselves in order to have the inner strength and ability to care for others. One place this self-nurturing can take place is in the comfort, warmth and privacy of a bathroom. Shannon Honeybloom

This article is excerpted from Shannon Honeybloom’s book Making a Family Home, available at SteinerBooks.org.