Raising a toddler is tough – like really tough. You’re faced with a never-ending set of challenges. Just when you’ve got one thing down, you’re faced with a new, seemingly even more difficult challenge to contend with. It’s exhausting and frustrating, yet just one little smile can make it all worthwhile.
One challenge many parents particularly struggle with is bath time. While some toddlers absolutely love taking a bath, others go through a phase of refusing to take one. It could be fear which has developed after a swimming incident, or a simple act of defiance as they find their own voice. Whatever the reason, it can be difficult knowing how to deal with the sudden tantrums and flat-out refusal to get in the tub.
If your toddler has started playing up at bath time, here you’ll discover 10 tips guaranteed to help.
1. Temporarily Reduce The Number Of Baths Your Toddler Takes
Like most toddler issues, try and remember that this is only a phase and it will pass. To help reduce the stress and trauma (for both you and your little one!), it can help to temporarily reduce the number of baths they take. So, if they currently have a bath every day, reduce that down to every other day. Or, if they appear to get particularly traumatized, you could even drop it down to two baths per week.
To keep them clean in-between bath days, baby wipes should work well providing they aren’t getting too dirty.
2. Add Bubbles!
Babies and young toddlers love bubbles, but as they get a little older, the fun and excitement appears to die down a little. However, don’t underestimate the power of a warm bubble bath!
Even older toddlers love splashing around in bubbles. So, just because they might not be interested in blowing bubbles now, it doesn’t mean they aren’t interested in a bath full of them!
3. Invest In New Tub Toys
I dare you to find a toddler who doesn’t love new toys! Adding a few new tub toys can help to make bath times more fun and exciting. If you want to really make them happy, you could even give them bath crayons (making sure they’re non-irritant and suitable for toddler use). That way, they can have lots of fun drawing in the bath.
However, any new tub toys will work, the more creative the better!
4. Use A Bath Visor
One of the reasons toddlers can develop a fear of the bath is because they’re afraid of getting water into their eyes. A bath visor can really help with this, protecting their little eyes from splashes. It’s simple and affordable and could save you a lot of stress!
As well as a visor, it’s also a good idea to have a dry cloth close by. So, if water does get into the eyes, or simply on their face, they can use the cloth to dry themselves as and when needed.
5. Try Switching Bath Times
One of the key things you learn as a first-time parent, is routine is everything. However, there are certain times where routine can be broken and a sudden fear of bath times is one of them.
Most parents tend to bathe their toddler before bed, but you may find it more successful to try switching to a morning or daytime bath for the time being. The simple change in time may even make your toddler excited to have a bath. Make it out to be a special event and they’ll want to do it even more.
6. Don’t Fill The Bath
Another great tip which can help ease a toddler’s fear of baths, is to avoid filling it up. Instead, let the tap run as you gently bathe your toddler. It will use more water than filling up the bath, but it’s only a temporary thing so if your budget does allow, switching to running water for the time being can be a big help.
You can even make it sound more exciting by telling your toddler they’re having special “shower baths”. Showers are something often reserved for older children and adults, so your toddler will find it pretty exciting being allowed to have a more grown-up sounding bathing experience.
If you don’t like the thought of leaving the water running, you can try just adding a very small amount of water to the tub. Rather than filling it up, add a few inches of water and as they get used to that, gradually increase the amount added.
7. Prepare Them At Least 10 Minutes Prior To Bath Time
If bath times are traumatic, it can be tempting to avoid mentioning the word “bath” until it’s absolutely necessary. However, doing so will only lead to further problems. Toddlers often handle difficult things much better when they have a chance to prepare. So, 10-15 minutes before bath time, be sure to let them know what’s coming.
Now, dependent upon why your toddler doesn’t like baths, there are a number of ways you can do this effectively. If for example, your toddler is genuinely fearful or baths, the goal should be to provide reassurance. So, saying something like “You need to have a bath in 10 minutes, but I’ll be with you the entire time”.
If on the other hand, your toddler is being defiant, you could say “You need to have a bath in 10 minutes, I know you don’t enjoy it, but we need baths to keep us clean so we don’t have a choice”. This not only provides assertiveness, but it also acknowledges how your toddler feels which is also important.
8. Take Baths Together
Sometimes, providing a bath buddy can be a big help. It’s much more fun for your toddler if they have somebody else sharing in the bath experience. It could be you, your partner or even a sibling. If they bathe together, it provides a great distraction and also makes them less likely to refuse getting in the bath.
9. Make It Fun
One of the reasons toddlers may refuse a bath is because they find it boring. They were happily playing with their toys, or watching their favorite cartoon before you spoilt it with bath time. The good news is, if this is the reason your toddler doesn’t like baths, it’s pretty easy to fix.
There are a lot of ways to make bath time more fun for your little one. We’ve already mentioned investing in new bath toys, but you can also sing together, create bubbles, read a book together or take part in any of the numerous bath time games available. If you’re struggling for inspiration, take a look online on sites such as Pinterest for ideas.
10. Change The Color Of The Bath
One thing that can make baths more appealing to your toddler is changing the color of the water. It may not seem like a big thing for you, but to your toddler, getting into a blue, green or purple bath can be very exciting!
You can add color by using a child-friendly food coloring, or add child-friendly bath bombs. You could even invest in safe LED bath candles which act as a toy as well as adding a color changing effect. Just make sure to keep an eye on them if they are allowed to use them as a toy.
Overall, it can be distressing when your toddler starts to refuse a bath. However, as you can see above, there are plenty of tips that can really help. The first thing to do is figure out why they don’t like baths. That way, you can tailor the tips above to fit your child’s particular issue.