Bathtime Rituals to Put Kids to Bed
Dominique Browning once wrote a piece about a large sofa she had in her kitchen, one that turned out to be the spot where her children lounged—and talked, even through the traditionally tight-lipped teenaged years—as she cooked. The car—as you drive, even the most monosyllabic kid in either the passenger seat or the back seat will often start talking—is another such place where children typically let their guards down with parents.
Likewise, the bathtub is, for most families, an up-til-teen-years daily opportunity for fun, connection, and pure relaxation. An end-of-day soak (a cup of Epsom salts and a cup of regular old baking soda make for a deeply soothing detoxifying bath, or see our other options, below) is the ideal transition from day to night, activity to sleep; it teaches self-care, the importance of winding down, and is just a great moment for easy parent/child conversation. Keep the water on the cool side to avoid drying skin too much (though kids’ skin is more resilient and moisture-retaining than adults’), and most importantly, be there: Never leave a child alone in the tub.
Beyond that obvious and overriding directive, though, relax and enjoy.
Few things delight a small child more than a wildly fizzing, out-of-control bath bomb gone wild. Most conventional versions are made with (endocrine-disrupting, among other things) artificial fragrances, so they’re a terrible idea for kids. But clean bath fizzes are brilliant; a great one incorporates some soothing and good-smelling plant extracts in the bargain.
Jane Inc. Effervescent Cubes (the Go to Sleep Bath and Less Stress Bath are great; the Muscle Ache Bath is amazing, too) are clean, easily packaged into single servings—and fun to open like a present, depending on your child.
Jane Inc. Effervescent Cube Go to Sleep Bathgoop, $10
A sleep-aid essential, this handmade, effervescent, essential oil bath bomb mixes baking soda and citric acid, valerian, mugwort, spirulina, gota kola, and lavender to create a delightfully stupor-inducing bath that can put anyone straight to sleep.
Jane Inc. Effervescent Cube Less Stress Bathgoop, $10
Honey and patchouli infuse this handmade, effervescent, essential oil bath bomb made with baking soda, Epsom salt, sea salt, honey powder, and spirulina for a serious sense of calm, that’s both instant and long-lasting.
Jane Inc. Effervescent Cube Muscle Ache Bathgoop, $10
This handmade, effervescent, essential oil bath bomb heals muscles and mind by way of a warming, seriously soothing bath. Treats sore or strained limbs with Epsom and sea salt, baking soda, spirulina, green tea, cardamom, cinnamon, and clove—it’s truly incredible.
Herbivore Botanicals Coconut Milk Bath Soakgoop, $18
Bathing in skin-softening organic coconut milk has got to be one of the more appealingly indulgent ideas anyone’s had in a long time. The faint, comforting scent of vanilla mixes with the coconut for an even more blissful experience; the soak also happens to be deeply hydrating, so it leaves your skin smooth and silky. Heaven.
Bath oils are controversial for several reasons: Most importantly, no matter what your age, they make the tub slippery—and given that the bathroom is far and away the number one spot for household accidents, that’s a serious problem. If you use a bath oil, you’ve got to be beyond careful, and even then, accidents can happen.
Two, no one should put essential oils directly on skin, especially kids—they can cause serious irritation. Since the oil doesn’t mix with water, whatever oil you use does at least in some part, end up directly on skin, so always use a bath or body oil, which are made with carrier oils like argan or sunflower, as opposed to pure essential oil.
Kesh Argan Oil with Rose Essencegoop, $40
Made with 100% organic cold-pressed argan oil plus rose essences straight from the famous rose gardens of Marrakesh, this is a hair, skin, and body treatment that just happens to smell unbelievably subtle and sophisticated. Just a small amount provides long-lasting hydration for the face; it’s fantastic applied all over the body after a shower; and it leaves hair (especially dry ends) gleaming with health. It also works as a truly gorgeous, long-lasting, rose-inflected perfume.
Kesh Argan Oil with Orange Blossom Essencegoop, $40
Called Ilma Zhar in Morocco, orange blossom essence is something of a signature scent in Morocco: It’s often given to guests for hand washing upon entering a host’s house or before drinking tea. It’s great in the bath, on the face, applied all over the body after a shower, and on the tips of hair.
Rodin Luxury Body Oilgoop, $130
This is made with the same impossibly deluxe ingredients as the best-selling, life-changing Olio Lusso Face Oil. The incredibly moisturizing, beautifully scented (it’s made with 11 plant and flower oils, from vitamin-C-packed neroli to evening primrose, rosehip, and calendula) body oil sinks into skin and truly leaves you glowing. Former model/stylist Linda Rodin created it; one look at her skin, and you’ll want to have what she’s having. Models, designers, stylists, photographers, and …pretty much everyone in the fashion industry is obsessed.
You can also smooth oils on before the tub, or after, reducing the amount that ends up on the tub surface as opposed to the body. Post-tub, oil or lotion makes a nice ritual in and of itself; once the child is in bed, a foot or neck/back massage is especially soothing. You don’t need to take a lot of time—it’s more the moment of comfort and connection that makes the difference. The foot massage in particular is a ritual that you’ll find lasts long past the time the bath ritual no longer appeals—even the the most disgruntled teen will allow a foot massage, and it helps maintain a parent-child connection through those years in an easy, natural, and deeply rewarding way. You don’t need special foot cream, which often smells medicinal—a soft-smelling body cream like the ones below, or Weleda Skin Food from the drugstore is better for kids, who generally don’t have the calluses foot creams are attempting to dispell. As with all kid-bath rituals, it’s less about treatment, more about indulgence and fun.
Beautycounter Enrich Body Buttergoop, $39
Shea butter is the main ingredient here, which means the hard-working moisturizing cream goes on light and absorbs in a matter of minutes for a finish that’s not in the least bit greasy.
Etta + Billie Hand and Body Lotion: Grapefruit Cardamomgoop, $29
Made with antioxidant cocoa butter, coconut oil, sunflower oil, and organic aloe, this rich lotion nourishes, soothes, and deeply moisturizes skin. The subtle scent—an energizing, exotic mix of pink grapefruit and sultry cardamom—is full of energy, and the lotion itself sinks in beautifully on all skin types.
Grown Alchemist Body Creamgoop, $26
Thick, rich, and deeply moisturizing, this soothing, ultra-luxurious cream is made with bioactive, certified organic ingredients to nourish even the driest skin. Pomegranate, cauacu and shea butters mix with antioxidant almond, grapeseed, and rosehip oils, increasing elasticity and leaving skin firmer, softer, and utterly revitalized.