When I pictured bath time with my children before they were born, I imagined bubble beards, soapy hairdos, and lots of smiles. In reality, I get screaming about water in their eyes, battles over getting into (and then out of) the tub, and a soaking wet bathroom. It took a little trial and error, but now I have found ways to make bath time fun for my girls and an enjoyable experience for all.
So how can you make the change from chaos to calm? First off, figuring out the root of your chaos will help you to resolve it. Does your child dislike the water in general, or is it something more specific to the bath itself? Is the dislike due to fear, the unpleasantness of being cold after the bath, or having to stop whatever activity they were previously engaged in to take said bath? Here are a few tips that can help you turn the tables and make bath time fun for everyone.
Get Your Child Involved
If your child’s hesitation is due to fear, it’s probably best to start with just an inch or two of water in the tub. Letting your child help run the water (if it’s too loud, try headphones for this part!), add some bubbles, and pick a few bath toys can help her feel like she has some control over the process. Let your child play from outside of the tub first to help her feel more comfortable. Giving children an opportunity to control their environment and explore at a pace that feels safe provides a more positive outcome. If they are rushed it can build negative feelings towards the bath that are harder to undo later.
Give Your Child a Heads Up
Always give your child a warning that the transition to bath time is approaching. Giving your child the opportunity to prepare for any transition can make it easier for her to separate from one activity and move to the next. If ending bath time fun causes meltdowns, use a count down or sand timer to allow your child to visually see how much longer she has to play.
Know Your Child’s Comfort Level
If your child has no fear at all, then dumping water over their head to rinse away shampoo may not be an issue. However if you have a child like my daughter who loves the water, but loathes it in her face, you’ll want to be more cautious. I found that when it came time to hair washing and keeping water out of her face, two tricks worked best. Put something on the ceiling for your child to look at, allowing your child to have something to focus on while looking up (a decal of their favorite character can work). This tilt of the head can help you rinse soapy hair without it getting into your child’s face. Secondly, I found that goggles work wonders! Hair can still be rinsed while the child’s eyes are protected from soap and water.
Creative Bath Time Fun!
- Add color tints. Children can pick a color tablet or you can use two to see what color they make when mixed!
- Find age appropriate bath toys that will engage your child’s interest, such as a basketball hoop or swimming scuba diver.
- Make a bubble bath!
- Use bath paints or crayons and then have fun washing it away.
- Play music, such as Splish Splash by Bobby Darin.
- Crack open some glow sticks and turn out the lights!
- Use bath bombs. Just be careful with these if your child has sensitive skin.
- Make bath time fun with Themes:
- A day at the beach could include sunglasses, shovels and pails, seashells, and tiny beach balls
- Cooking fun could include colanders, spoons, cups, bowls, funnels, and play food
- An outer space theme could involve green glow sticks, glow in the dark stars, a space ship, and glowing bath paints
- Building in the bath is a different experience. Duplos float and if you offer a small floating surface such as a kick board or jjd your child can build a city on water!
- Kids love modeling adults’ actions. So, ask if they want to wash their rubber ducky or a favorite plastic toy, maybe have a carwash. Just give a squirt of tear free soap and a wash cloth.
- Throw the child’s bath towel in the dryer so that when they get out of the tub it’s nice and warm!
Try out some of these bath time fun ideas this week and be calm if some water splashes out of the tub. If you are having fun, your child will too! If your nanny offers bath time and you would like her to take a safety course as a refresher, you can gift her our Nanny Safety Training!
About The Author
Sarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.
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