How To Get Your Toddlers To Take A Bath
Splish, splash, oh wait my whole bathroom is flooded...
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Bath times used to be a battle in our household. I have a very assertive and independent toddler and boy, did she speak her mind (and lungs out) whenever bath time comes! It’s either that or she would make me chase her around the house - hiding under tables, running around chairs. I would get so stressed because I needed to send her to childcare before going to the office so I knew I had to get my toddler to take a bath quickly before I ran late for work.
Eventually, I learned a few tricks from reading books, articles and getting advice from some of my friends who are veteran moms. So I want to share my learnings and let you know some easy and doable tricks on how to get your toddlers to take a bath.
Put lots of toys inside the bathroom
All kids LOVE toys. If you want them to follow you to the bathroom, lure them by shaking and waving a toy at them.
You can also put in a little bit of effort and set up a simple invitation to play for them. For example, you can prepare some buckets, cups, and large spoons and call them if they can fill up the cups and buckets with water.
If you prefer a low-key set up, just keep a basket of safe and educational toys in the bathroom. It can be simple items like bath letters and numbers, sea creatures, pipes, and tubes, or squirt toys. Keep it within reach of your toddlers.
Just don’t overdo it as you still want to keep things organized and manageable in your bathroom. You don’t want to get stressed cleaning and clearing away the toys afterward.
But if you have a very independent toddler (like mine!), do the next step instead.
Let them choose a toy to bring inside
Kids like to feel like they’re in control at times. When they feel like they’re being forced to do something, their usual reaction is to disobey, not listen and just not follow your instructions. Imagine being in their shoes all day long and just listening to adults telling you what not and what to do. That can get pretty tiring, isn’t it?
So give them some power by letting them choose a toy to bring inside the bathroom. Be specific, tell them how many and what kind of toy they can bring, so they won’t be too overwhelmed with the choices and you won’t need to clear away too many toys.
For example, you can tell them to bring 3 animal toys or bring 2 yellow colored toys. Make your instructions short and simple.
It might not seem a big deal to you but for them, it means the world.
Include bubbles and a foam bath
Anything with bubbles just makes things more magical and awesome! It not only distracts your kid from their fear of bathing, but it’s also an excellent way to develop their visual tracking skills, hand, and eye coordination, and even their language skills.
Bubbles and foam can also be used to hide bathroom objects that might seem unreasonably scary to your toddlers, such as bathroom floor drains, shower mats, or pipes.
Offer washable paint
If you have a budding artist who hates bath time, offer them some paint paraphernalia so they can enjoy the bathing experience better. Have a little stool, a few blobs of paint on a palette, and some brushes, and tell them they can paint the bathroom tiles and walls. Let them go crazy and paint even the bathtub and toilet!
Make sure to use only non-toxic and washable paint and to let them know where to and not to paint.
Also, do this only when you have the time to paint and play with your kid. This is not advisable to do when you need to rush off to work or to any appointment.
Let them play with the showerhead
Some toddlers might be frightened of the water and where it’s coming from, especially if you’re using a showerhead to bathe them. If that’s one of the main issues that’s making them avoid baths, let them touch and play with the showerhead first. Let them become familiar with it and hopefully, they’ll end up begging you to use it themselves.
Let them wear a shower visor
One of the reasons why my toddler refuses to take a bath before was, because of the water getting in her eyes. She was constantly reaching for the towel, making us both frustrated as she’s moving a lot and by the end of her bath, her towel is already dripping wet and I haven’t even used it to dry her!
So I bought her a shower visor and that did a lot of wonders! Temporarily though, as she started playing with it instead of just leaving it on her head.
Give them options on what to do after taking a bath
Your toddler might be associating bath time with sleep or horror of horrors, the end of playtime. So reframe their thinking away from that. For example, you can ask them before taking a bath:
What book do they want to read after taking a bath?
Which toy do they want to say good night to first and cuddle with?
What good night song would you want them to sing to after?
How many hugs and kisses do they want after wearing their pajamas?
Set their expectations and focus on the fun things they still can do after taking a bath, instead of making them dread sleeping at night.
If nothing seems to be working and you’re starting to lose your mind (and patience!), you can try the reward system. You can give them simple prizes, like a sticker, a candy the next day, their favorite dessert for dinner, etc.
But don’t do it often. They might expect this every time they take a bath and you don’t want to set and cement that expectation.
With kids, it’s all about making everything into a playtime experience. Almost everything has to be fun and entertaining, even bathing. Which I admit, can be a little bit tiring but you know what, eventually, they’ll grow out of this phase. There will come a time where they won't even allow you to give them a bath anymore! So think of those days, try the tricks above, and good luck mama, you can do this!
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About the Author
Julie resides in Singapore with her husband, 2 cats, and one super opinionated toddler. She helps overwhelmed moms adapt positively to the changing phases of motherhood, through www.adaptablemama.com. She hopes her site will also help her daughter one day when she decides to become a mom.
My Motto: Manage expectations, be grateful and be kind.
My Motto: Manage expectations, be grateful and be kind.
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