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Bath Time with Your Toddler

A toddler’s bath time can sometimes result in more water on the floor than in the tub. Some toddlers start to refuse to take a bath when they reach their second year of life. For some the very word ‘bath’ or just the sound of the taps running can bring them to tears.

Your toddler may be scared of the sound that the drain makes, of slipping under the water, or they can think they can fall down the drain hole as they don’t understand size at this age. Your toddler may also reject the bath because they dislike having their hair washed or be worried about getting soap in their eyes.

Bath time doesn’t have to be a scary or crazy experience. Here are a few tips that may help you keep more water in the tub and get a fresh, clean and happy toddler:

  • If your toddler is refusing to take a bath, try a progressive method of slowly introducing them to baths. Start by putting your toddler in an empty bath and sponge them with warm water. When they get used to this begin to add about 2-3cm of water to the bath. Then encourage them to sit in the bath and slowly increase the amount of water.
  • Try having a bath with your toddler or bathe them with their siblings. Your toddler will be able to see that you and their brothers or sisters enjoy the bath. You can make them feel safe by putting them between your legs or on your lap.
  • Using a bath seat or non-slip mat or stickers on the bottom of the bath can help your toddler to sit in the bath and ease their worries about slipping under the water.
  • Take your toddler out of the bath before you pull out the plug, so they won’t get scared of the gurgling noise when the water goes down the drain.
  • Try a toddler shampoo, which is more gently on your little one’s eyes if they don’t like their hair being washed. Some children also find it fun to wear swimming goggles when they get their hair washed.
  • A bubble bath can be a good distraction. Besides being fun, bubbles can disguise a few centimetres of water. You can be generous with bubbles in the beginning and as your toddler becomes less scared you can reduce the amount of bubbles you put in the bath.
  • Have special toys just for bath time. Playing with your toddler in the bath makes it fun and a yellow ducky or boat can help to ease their fears.
  • Change up their bathing schedule. If your toddler is having their bath at the same time every day and they learn to expect it, try giving them a bath at a different time. You may find that your little ones prefer their bath in the morning when they’re not tired and cranky.
  • Try having a shower instead. If bath time is still distressing to your child and you’ve tried various methods to calm them down, have a go at taking them in the shower with you. Have the water on a gentle flow and hold your toddler close until they feel confident to stand under the shower.

It is important to recognise that if your toddler has a genuine fear of the bath to take this seriously and not to force them. Remember to be prepared for bath time by having everything you need within arm’s reach. Always be near and never leave your toddler unattended in the bath.

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