We have gathered moms to share several tried solutions to make your toddlers love spending time in a bath and without any tears!
We’ve used bubbles in the bathtub and drops that color the water (but don’t stain the tub!) were a big hit! For hair-washing, my daughter liked to have a face cloth to cover her face so the water stayed out of her eyes.
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Have some interesting toys. My 2 year old boy has never been keen on the bath and when he’s particularly resistant, I entice him in by playing with his toys in the bath. He especially likes things that go round, but anything really, it doesn’t even have to be a ‘bath’ toy.
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My son has always liked getting in the bath, but used to really HATE getting his hair washed. Who am I kidding…he still does. But at least now he tolerates it, whereas he used to have full-on freak outs when my husband or I even started reaching for the soap. All we did was start acknowledging how much he disliked the whole thing and tried to give him some choices. For example, we’d say things like, “I know you really hate getting your hair washed. I wish we didn’t have to do it. Would you like to pour the water over your head, or do you want me to do it?” Other choices we use are: Do you want cool water or warm water? Do you want to hold a towel over your face, or should I? The choices seem to help him manage his anxiety by giving him some more control over the thing he doesn’t like.
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Give it time. We have had a very enthusiastic child who loves baths and showers and we have had a clingy child who would drench me wet everytime she had a bath. We recently helped her with her fear of water and what worked was to give her as much time as possible. We prepared her in advance. I’d start the morning with ‘Hey, we are going to play bubbles and splashes today!!’ even though her bath time is at noon. She was prepared and more willing at bath time. We also included fun water play activities and let her wash her own head. She felt so ‘grown up’!
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If you have an older child, let them take a bath together with a toddler. My 7 year old daughter has been an awesome helper when it comes to bathtime. They play and “wash” each other.
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I have found that giving them (limited) choices helps them to feel empowered and more cooperative at bath time. For example, “do you want bubbles or no bubbles?” “do you want the blue towel or the red towel?” “do you want to these toys or those toys?” (I rotate toys so they don’t get bored). I also try to make the bath a time when we really connect at the end of the day – sing songs together, talk about our day – no phones or interruptions allowed!
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Bath time has not been a problem in our house but having hair washed has been a struggle. We now have a ‘magic’ cloth to go over eyes and as I pour the water over I repeatedly say “Keep your head back.” Strangely, as the weather has got colder we now dry Pook’s hair with the hair dryer, this has made it so much fun she asks for her hair to be washed!
author at The Adventures of Meemoo and Pook. Follow Gemma on Facebook and Pinterest.
We don’t do bathtime every night, so it seems like less of a requirement and more of a treat. Most of the time in the tub is free play with water…. I let my son splash, pour, and kick the water as long as it stays in the tub. We originally had some issues getting hair wet, but that was solved by getting a plastic pitcher and letting my son dump water on his own head. Soap goes on a washcloth and we make getting clean a game. We don’t have many toys in the tub, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem.
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Changing the focus of bath time from just getting everyone clean to time to interact with Mom or Dad really helps make bath time a fun time and not a struggle. The one on one attention helps children feel safe and loved. The playing together helps them have positive moments with Mom or Dad. Taken altogether, it becomes one of the best times of the day.
author at Mommy Crusader and her Knights and Ladies.
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We had a difficult time getting rid of my toddler’s fear of washing his hair. This was usually the reason he resisted baths. It just took time, and I never washed his hair without asking him first. Sometimes, I scooped water with my hands and put it over his head before using shampoo. He still dislikes it, but doesn’t scream now! I always praise him when he lets me wash his hair without much fuss. We’re getting there!
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Mihaela runs Best Toys 4 Toddlers blog and loves to come up with new ideas how to use old toys her 2 daughters keep leaving on the floor to slip over. She loves them despite the fact that they call her mommy few hundred times a day, and it makes her nuts.