We know that in parenting—and in life—we need to be mindful in everything we do. Put away the mobile devices. Turn off the screen and spend quality time with our kids. We’ve heard it all before and we try our best to do that with our families. Most moms know that daily routines are also important, but did you know that your nightly routines can make a huge difference on the rest of the day?
Scientists, researchers, education experts and even our mothers will tell us that young kids depend on stability and predictability to feel safe. At the end of the day, they’ll hopefully sleep better and more soundly with a routine in place because it’s something that they can depend on.
I was recently at an event where Johnson’s Baby had health care professionals and scientists report on the latest findings on the importance of touch, sound and smell for babies, particularly when it comes to end-of-day rituals. Is there a science behind bath time? You bet! According to Johnson’s Global Bath Time Report*, 9 out of 10 parents say that bath time is so much more than getting their child clean and 84% say it’s some of the best quality time they have with their little one.
Scientists and researchers around the world have already proven that in the first three years of life, every interaction with mom and dad can help shape baby’s developing brain. I was surprised to learn that babies begin to smell at 28 weeks into pregnancy and did you know that babies can recognize their mothers by smell alone?
Dr. Kumar Vedantam, from the world’s premiere fragrance house, Givaudan, was on hand to explain the science of scents. Scent is the only sense that is constantly working for us 24/7: “When you go to bed, you close your eyes. Your senses are beginning to shut down. Your sight shuts down. Your hearing shuts down. Smell is the only sense that works from the time we are born,” says Dr. Vedantam.
He also went on to explain the importance of smells. “Scents are an integral part of our lives. Pleasant smells can make long lasting memories in our lives. Smells take us back into our memories… good or bad. I think about the smell of fresh cut grass and it reminds me of my childhood playing in the garden. Smell is the window to our brains.”
The scents of ocean, fresh cut grass and pink lotion definitely brought back fond memories of early baby years.
And what about touch? I remember going to newborn classes to learn how to give proper baby massages (link to a how to guide here: Baby Massage). Luisa Ciofani, Associate Director of Nursing, Women’s Health Services, McGill University Health Centre explains about how important a mom’s touch is to a baby right from the start. “Skin on skin time is a fairly recent movement that’s so critical, even for moms who have had cesarians,” says Ciofani. “The newborn is placed skin on skin right when they [are born] if possible. The advantage here is that she can help the baby regulate the body temperature. If baby is cold, her body warms up so she can warm up the baby. So touch is very important right from the start.”
In a discussion on “doting” on your baby, Ciofani mentioned that she had noticed a shift in our society where while we have all these “boxes” for life that help us manage our babies (e.g. cribs, activity seats etc) but while they can be handy, it’s shifting away from parents holding their baby. I mentioned that both my babies were often held by everyone but people kept telling me that I was going to “spoil my baby”.
“Yes, I’ve seen that point made in different cultures and western societies, research has found that holding and giving routine baby massages doesn’t spoil the baby but instils a sense of confidence and well-being in your baby,” said Ciofani.
When they were tots, both my kids loved bath time. They enjoyed their time at the end of the day. Unhurried, relaxed, calm. We still have a couple of their favourite splashing around toys now as fond memories. My younger one still likes a gentle back rubbed at the end of the night. That’s a ritual we’ve had for years now. They both sleep soundly and deeply through the night.
Johnson’s Baby has been setting global standards and pioneering the science in baby skin care for more than 120 years. Their research is responsible for breakthrough discoveries from specialized products designed specifically for baby’s skin and eyes to the first bed time ritual proven to help babies sleep better and longer. Their most recent advancements in research that can lead to happy, healthy baby development. They collaborate with dozens of midwives, pediatric skin care, bonding, sleep and behaviour experts around the world and partner with more than 10 of the world’s largest global healthcare associations that focus on baby care and development.
Do you have a bedtime ritual with your baby?
*The Johnson’s Global Bath Time Report was conducted by Harris Poll to survey more than 3,500 parents of 0-3 year olds around the world. Commissioned by Johnson’s Brand.