Some babies and toddlers love baths. And for their lucky parents, bath time is just another opportunity to connect with their child during an enjoyable everyday activity. But some of us aren’t so lucky! Needing to bathe a child who hates the bath – or worse, is terrified of it! – can be a daily, disempowering struggle made all the worse by witnessing our child’s dissatisfaction and upset.
If your baby or toddler struggles with bath time, here are tips that will help get you all through it with fewer tears.
Bathtime Tips for Babies
Here are three tips to help your baby start loving the bath.
1. Make bathtime a predictable routine that you do with your baby (not to your baby)
At first, your baby might only need a true bath two or three times a week. But when you think it’s time to start bathing him or her daily, make it a consistent part of your regular routine by having bath time happen at around the same hour every day, with the same activities leading up to and after the bath. Prepare the bath before you prepare your baby for the bath. And, involve your baby as an active participant in the experience by speaking to him or her as you undress them and during every step of the bath time experience (example: “Now I’m going to help you into the water. Oh, the water is warm, it feels so nice!”).
2. Make sure the water temperature and room temperature are comfortable
Just as most adults don’t enjoy a cold bath, neither do most babies! If you’re concerned about using water that’s too hot, a water thermometer will help ensure that your baby’s bath water is at the right temperature. You’ll be amazed at how much comfortable water temperature can change the bath time experience. Mind the room temperature, too. Getting undressed in a room that’s too cold isn’t something your baby is likely to enjoy. And when you take him or her out of the bath, they’ll continue to feel cozy and comfortable if you’ve warmed up the room for them.
3. Incorporate singing and storytelling
You might be totally preoccupied by how to get bath time over with as quickly as possible, especially if your baby is wailing the entire time. But slowing down and serenading your baby with songs or stories he or she loves will help you both relax and enjoy the bath more.
4. Try the sink
If your baby goes crazy at the site of the baby tub, try bathing him or her in the sink instead. You can make use of a small bucket to make a safe bath in the sink, or one of the many products that exist for this purpose.
5. Break out the toys
Bath time toys are a wonderful way to keep your child entertained, and they’re super easy to find. An added bonus is that these toys can be used to help teach your baby. For example, rubber duckies or animal toys inspire imagination. As your baby gets bigger and can grasp items, plastic cups can help them learn about filling and pouring. Foam letters and numbers help introduce your baby to the ABCs and 123s and are fun to stick on the sides of the bathtub.
Bathtime Tips for Toddlers
If your toddler hates the bath, we feel your pain! This can be even more challenging than managing younger babies who don’t like baths, because toddlers are bigger, stronger, and can more clearly voice their dissatisfaction. Here are tips to help!
1. Use a bath time visor
Often times, the main reason toddlers hate bath time is because of the unpleasant experience of having the water that’s poured on their heads get on their face and in their eyes. To address this problem, use a bath time visor that will keep their faces protected while you wash their hair.
2. Make bath time colorful
Add some color and fun to your toddler’s bath using non-toxic bath time crayons or bath tablets that change the color of the water. They’ll love making new artistic creations on the sides of the tub or choosing the color of their water at each bath time!
3. Read children’s books about bath time
Reading a book with your child about how bath time isn’t scary and how it can be fun can help your little one overcome his or her fears or reservations about taking a bath.
4. Let your toddler know bath time is approaching
A great way to help calm and discomfort around bath time is by giving your child advanced warning that bath time is approaching. They might also welcome bath time more readily if you allow them to help you prepare the bath. You can do this by allowing them to set the water temperature, choose which washcloth or towel you’ll use, and how much bubble bath to put in the water.
5. Try a shower instead
You may be surprised to find that your toddler enjoys a shower more than a bath. Toddlers often enjoy mimicking adult behavior and activities, and opting for a shower instead of a bath might just do the trick!