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05th Apr 2024

How to make bath time more enjoyable for your toddler

Jody Coffey


Either your toddler loves a warm bubble bath or absolutely loathes it. There is no in-between.

If you find yourself dreading bath time, you’re not alone.

The experience can be as stressful for a toddler as it is for the parent, but it’s a necessary task that looms over parents everyday.

A number of parents have weighed in on the matter and offered their advice on how you can make bath time a less upsetting ordeal — and even enjoyable for you both.

These parents, who have survived the throes of toddlerhood, have shared their tried and tested methods with Baby Center and they are easy to implement into anyone’s routine.

One parent recommended going full-throttle with the bubbles. Something which they lost touch with when their older kids had aged out of supervised baths: “This may sound obvious, but our older kids had grown out of bubbles, so we had forgotten about them.

“When our daughter suddenly started hating baths, we tried all sorts of new toys, songs, etc. One day while she was helping me wash dishes and playing with the bubbles, it occurred to me that she might like bubbles in the tub. It worked!”

Credit: Getty

Getting creative and turning your tub into a work of art is another genius idea.

“I bought some special crayons and paints for the bathtub, and today my toddler took a 30-minute bath with no fussing or crying.

“She had a great time scribbling all over the tub and walls and at the end everything wiped off with a quick swipe of the sponge.”

Credit: Getty

Another brought nontoxic paint and a sponged paint brush into the bath and let their daughter decorate while bathing, which worked a treat as they reported when she does this, she ‘has a blast’.

If your little one is learning their letters or numbers, use this to your advantage. One family cleverly tapped into this interest.

“My 18-month-old is really into letters, so I bought those foam ones that stick and some bathtub crayons. I let my husband bring her into our (dry) tub one day where I was sitting and drawing all her favorite shapes and letters all over the tub.

“She didn’t get in right away, so we let her color on the outside. She eventually got into the tub and I let her do this several times a day, whenever she asked to, eventually adding the water back in for a real bath,” they advised.

Bath bombs and fizzes were also a stellar suggestion given by a parent as they change the colour of the water, which may keep your tot happy in the tub.

Credit: Getty

When you’re a little child, you’ll go where the fun is. If you have a toddler who loves to play with toys, why not bring them into the bath with them? This is something that other parents saw huge success with.

“My son has two little plastic monkeys that take a bath with him.  When it’s time to wash, I say, ‘Okay, monkeys! Time to get clean.’ I wash the monkeys and name their body parts out loud, and he repeats them. Then I say, “Okay, dude – your turn!” and he lets me wash him with no problem,” one parent shared.

Another parent had the same outcome just with different toys: “I bought a little pink bunny-shaped sponge. The minute I brought it home, I showed it to my daughter. Then bunny went into the bathroom to ‘wait for her’ in the tub. She couldn’t wait to join her bunny friend for a bath.”

Credit: Getty

Adding in a little bath time show has also proven a success as parents have sought the help of bath puppets to get their tot into the tub.

If the dislike of bathing has crossed into a full fledged fear for your child, it may stem from the drain.

Parents have advised that covering the bathtub’s drain or getting them out before removing the drain has seen a huge difference in their children’s attitude towards the experience.

“When my daughter developed a fear of the tub almost overnight, my mother suggested she might be afraid of the drain. What worked for us almost immediately is to put one of those Elmo faucet covers on top of the drain. Elmo will ‘protect’ her and she can’t even see the drain,” one parent shared.

Credit: Getty

Other parents suggested that maybe going back to the toddler bath or washing outside of the tub for a while as they may not be ready for the standard size bath yet.

Bathing with your little one was another helpful nugget of advice that was passed down by other parents who faced a similar struggle when it came to bath time.

“I ended up having to sit in the tub with my son while he played with his bath toys. Eventually I started shortening the length of time I was in there and now I can sit on the edge of the tub and have just my arms in there with him,” the parent explained.

Additional recommendations included decorating the ceiling to distract and encourage them to tilt their heads back for hair washing and allowing them to use the toilet beforehand, as they may have a fear if they’ve accidentally went potty while in the water.

Good luck!