Adding simple behaviors and bath products to a bath time routine makes bath time more beneficial


Reinventing Bath Time: physiological, behavioral, and emotional outcomes of a behavior and product intervention

Bath time is more than cleansing; it's a time for gentle, beneficial touch, and parent-baby bonding and engagement. Bath routines, such as those including bath and massage, can engage a baby's multiple senses and maximize gentle connections between parents and their babies.1-6


Current research suggests that to get the full benefits of bathing, the bath and massage routine needs to be a positive experience for both babies and their parents. Bath products can play an important role in how the bath is experienced. Products that reduce barriers to enjoyment enhance the experience; such as a wash that's less slippery so there is less of a need to reposition the baby. But it's not just products that make a difference during bath time. What the mother does during the bath is also a factor in the level of enjoyment that the baby and mother feel during this ritual. This study focused on the development of a behavioral intervention and how it can help mothers and babies have a more engaged, emotional bath experience.1

Infant washing time chart


Nineteen mothers with 20 healthy, full-term infants aged 0-6 months participated in this study. Mothers bathed their baby in the lab using a control wash and, following the bath, applied a control lotion*. They were then taught simple behavioral interventions and given the JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® wash and lotion. Mothers spent the next two weeks implementing these tips into their bath routine at home. They then returned to the lab where they bathed their baby again, this time using the intervention and JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® wash. Following the bath, they applied the JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® lotion.

  • Both lab baths were recorded
  • The behaviors and emotions of mothers and babies were analyzed:
    • Trained experts used the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), a tool for measuring facial expressions, to analyze infant emotion during bathing
    • Facial electromyography (EMG) recording was used to analyze the mothers' emotions
    • Behavior of the mothers and babies was coded from videos
  • Mothers filled out a questionnaire with their impressions of the bath experience

The behavioral-intervention tips were:

  • Set routines
  • Talk/sing to the baby
  • Let the baby lead the interactions

IERT score chart


The bath-time intervention using the JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® wash and lotion helped make the bath experience more emotional and less functional for moms and their baby.

  • Significantly more eye contact, playful touch (such as tickling), and overall touch were observed
    • Two times more eye contact was observed when implementing the interventions and using JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® wash and lotion compared with the bath using the control-product routine
  • Less time was spent on functional tasks during the bath, such as washing
    • 16.37% of the bath was spent washing with JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® product routine vs 23.08% with the control-product routine;p<0.05
  • Mothers better recognized infant emotions with the JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® product routine than with the control-product routine

Results show that three out of four moods increased after the bath time product intervention.


Adding behavioral interventions, such as more talking and touch, as well as introducing a the JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® wash and lotion, improved the bath-time experience for mothers and their babies. The bath became less functional and more emotional. Mothers were better able to recognize complex emotions than basic emotions (eg, significantly better recognition of infant interest.) Mothers also gave high scores to JOHNSON'S® cottontouch® wash and lotion. The improved bath-time experience may have implications for long-term maternal well-being and infant growth and development.

*Aveeno® Soothing Relief wash and lotion were used as control


1. Data on File 1, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (Rotella Bath Intervention).
2. Farroni T, Csibra G, Simion F, et al. Eye contact detection in humans from birth. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2002;99(14):9602-9605.
3. Field T, Field T, Cullen C, et al. Lavender bath oil reduces stress and crying and enhances sleep in very young infants. Early Hum Dev. 2008;84(6):399-401
4. Dehaene-Lambertz G, Montavont A, Jobert A, et al. Language or music, mother or Mozart? Structural and environmental influences on infants' language networks. Brain Lang. 2010;114(2):53-65.
5. Sullivan RM, Taborsky-Barba S, Mendoza R, et al. Olfactory classical conditioning in neonates. Pediatrics. 1991;87(4):511-518.
6. Mindell JA, Telofski LS, Wiegand B, et al. A nightly bedtime routine: impact on sleep in young children and maternal mood. Sleep. 2009;32(5):599-606.



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