Sensory Tour: 5 Ways to Elevate Your Bathroom Routine
The bathroom is not always the most popular space at home compared to the playroom or the kitchen, but with a bit of imagination the bathroom can become an environment rich with sensory opportunities for your baby. And best of all, there’s no admission fee for a sensory tour.
If your child is not yet walking, sensory tours can be an opportunity to show them your living space from a new vantage point, or explore a part of your home they might have been curious about. If your little one is moving and walking, sensory tours can expand their awareness and understanding of the routines that happen in different parts of your home.
Remember to always be safe with baby while exploring new spaces, and adapt the tour to your baby’s interest!
*Note: Some of these suggestions involve the use of water which requires precaution around temperatures and general water safety. Approach these activities with your child’s developmental stage in mind and adapt to your comfort level. We recommend that a child always be supervised while in the bathroom.
As you enter, give your child a chance to flip the light switch in the bathroom. Learning cause (first we flip the switch) and effect (then the lights turn on) is a building block of conceptual learning that will evolve in complexity as your child grows. For added effect, you can even close the door after you enter to experience total darkness, followed by total light. Point out to them an object in the bathroom that ‘disappears’ in the dark and ‘reappears’ when the lights come on.
Layer in another sensory element to cause & effect relationships by letting baby turn the faucets and experience the water flowing out. “When we turn the faucets, water comes out.” Before anyone touches the water, it’s a good reminder to vocalize that ‘we always wait a minute before touching the water’, as the first burst of water may be hot. With this seemingly simple experience you’re also allowing them to build on the concept of opposites in their environment as they feel the cold and warm water on their hands. Explain to them the difference between hot (not too hot, of course) and cold, and if appropriate, introduce the concept of ‘lukewarm’.
Mirror time is incredibly beneficial for baby’s brain, as they begin to develop a concept of ‘self’ and delineate between ‘self’ and ‘other’. Hold baby in front of the bathroom vanity and let them stare at themselves or their surroundings through the mirror. At first, baby will notice a mirror. As they develop they’ll notice someone in the mirror, until they eventually recognize their reflection. Developing self awareness is important for baby’s social and emotional development as it is the foundation of learning more about themselves, recognizing emotions and building positive relationships.
Depending on where your child is developmentally, potty training may be a distant idea or a pressing reality, so handle this one with care. For those in the midst of potty training, oftentimes the sensory experience of using the toilet can be challenging and demanding and it can be helpful to work your way up to it together with baby steps, something that can start well before potty training even does.
Flushing the toilet is fun for some children and loud and enervating for others. If flushing appears too loud for your little one, you can ask them to stay just outside the room and tell them you are going to flush it for them, or you can close the lid to reduce the sound. Getting them familiar with the sounds and experience of flushing is a helpful step.
If flushing evokes curiosity in your little one, allow them to try and use it as an opportunity to explain to them what it’s used for. Exposure to yet another cause and effect relationship gives your child more context of what’s happening in their environment.
Bathtime is likely your child’s strongest association with visiting the bathroom in the first place! From the warmth of the water, to the interaction with you, bathtime is an incredible bonding and sensory experience for you both that doesn’t require much more. Add a touch of our luxurious 2-in-1 foaming shampoo and body wash to get the bubbles building and enjoy!
Like everything that was once novel and then became familiar, using the sensory opportunities in the bathroom can introduce new aspects of this space to your little one and add to their repertoire of routines with you.