Bath time should be fun, not a chore. But while some toddlers love splashing in the bath, others associate the experience with discomfort or even fear.
These bath time tips for toddlers include ways to get over those obstacles. Think: creating a safe and reassuring space, empowering your toddler to be the boss in the tub, and making it a family affair. Explore what works for your toddler and you’re on your way to a successful, joyful bath time.
Make it fun.
Bath time shouldn’t feel like drudgery, and it doesn’t have to. Make it fun by collecting a supply of bath toys and activities that squirt, float, and make bubbles. Get creative with finger paints made just for the bath, or bath bombs made with gentle ingredients for toddlers. Keep everything tidy when not in use with a bath toy holder that suctions onto the side of the tub.
Keep it short.
Keeping bathtime short will help keep your toddler’s sensitive skin from drying out. Cap the tub time at 15 minutes. And then follow it up by applying lotion to the whole body, both to moisturize and relax your kid. (Who doesn’t love a massage?)
Make it safe.
Bathtubs are slippery, and that can make kids nervous. Adding a non-slip tub mat will give both them and you a dose of extra reassurance. The safest way for a toddler to bathe is while seated — but if your kid insists on standing and wriggling, the mat will help keep them safe from falls.
Pick gentle products.
Toddlers who associate bath time with stinging eyes may resist the whole experience mightily. So ditch any potentially harsh bath products for ultra-gentle, tear-free shampoo and soaps. Search for products designed for babies, as grownups’ soaps can contain harsh deodorants and fragrances; toddlers don’t need these add-ons, and they can be irritating.
Let your toddler lead.
A toddler who feels empowered at bath time will love the experience — or at least not fear it. So let them take control when it’s safe to do so: Let them soap up their own bodies and rinse with clear water. (You might even let them try soaping up mom or dad for fun!) Taking the lead also helps them learn and gain independence.
Start with an empty tub.
If they have any fear around water, let them get into the tub while it’s empty so as not to overwhelm them. Then run the water, slowly filling the tub around them to the ideal temperature and volume.
Keep them company.
Bath time can be both less daunting and more fun for toddlers when they have company. Encourage baths with siblings, or join your toddler in the bath. These are opportunities for family bonding, and it’s a healthy way to encourage comfort in their bodies.
At what age should kids stop bathing with others? Some say it’s when they reach kindergarten; others put the timeline later. But that’s a personal matter that will vary by individual comfort level. When your kid asks for privacy, grant it.
Switch it for a shower.
If your toddler truly hates the bathtub itself, maybe it’s time to switch things up. Toddlers are old enough to try a shower instead of a bath as long as they can stand in the stall and are comfortable with the sensation of the water raining from above. As you would with a bath, keep close supervision.
Make it part of a relaxing routine.
Some kids enjoy the stimulating experience of a bathtub filled with toys, while others savor bath time as part of a soothing routine before bed. And incorporating the bath into a nighttime routine will condition your toddler to associate the bath with sleepiness.
Adding epsom salts to the water can encourage relaxation; they’re made from natural minerals, including magnesium, which helps trigger natural serotonin production and creates a feeling of calmness. (Read the package instructions to get the right dose for your toddler’s size.)
Or try playing a soothing audio track, like calming music or a meditation, in the bathroom while your toddler soaks. Moshi offers magical sleep stories and meditations meant just for kids that can combine with a bath for a truly dreamy experience.
For more tips on improving kids’ daily routines, try these tips for making nap time a success.