Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seeking that bath time breakthrough

Sonny loves baths. Or maybe he hates them.

We haven't quite worked it out yet, since our five-week-old child is being rather mercurial about the matter.

For now, he's getting two baths a day, the same routine applying to both: After his eyes, ears, hair and face are cleaned with a wet cloth, he gets a quick splish-splash and rub-down in a shallow tub of slightly soapy water. Then he's towelled off, the odd cream or lotion is applied and he is dressed. Ten minutes' work, no more.

At first, Sonny seemed really to enjoy these little set pieces, especially as the water lapped around his knees. Then he began to get seriously cranky, especially in the evenings. This escalated into full-scale howling, and in the mornings as well.

These last couple of days, he's changed tack again, alternating placid sessions with teary regressions. If we didn't know better, we'd say he was playing us like a fish: We've been driven to vary tactics, from the use of a small blanket to keep him wrapped up, to tweaking the intervals between feeds, snoozes and washes. But each time we think we've distilled the factors explaining his behaviour, the pattern changes - or so it can seem.

Dispiriting? Well, if this is a taster of mood changes, morphing preferences and behaviour switches to come, perhaps it is a useful toughening-up exercise. Might as well look on the bright side - while girding ourselves for the worst.