Ahh, bath time – that peaceful evening ritual that turns toddlers into squeaky-clean, sweet-smelling cherubs destined for dreamland. Well, in theory, at least.But here’s the twist: toddlers, those pint-sized bundles of unpredictability, can decide seemingly out of thin air that bath time is the ultimate battleground. So, why the resistance, and how can we avoid tantrums of gargantuan proportions and turn this aquatic ordeal into a splashing success?
Diving into the Depths of Toddler ResistanceToddlers can have an elaborate list of reasons for their tub-time tantrums (and chances are, if they're resisting the tub then they're also resisting the shower). Figuring out the ‘why’ and addressing it, might help in the ultimate goal in cleaning up those grotty tots.
Trouble with TransitionsIt could be that your little one is struggling with transitions, and the issue is more about the interruption than the bath itself. Who wants to have a play session cut short, unannounced?! Giving some advance warning that bath-time is ahead, the process involved and how long it might go for, might help to manage little ones’ expectations.
Increasing IndependenceSometimes kids just want to remind you who’s boss! (Spoiler: It’s not you). Try giving them a chance to flex their independence by offering your child the wash cloth and let them clean themselves (you might need to help after they’ve had a go!); have them lay out their choice of pj’s for post-bath coziness; or suggest they choose their favourite bath toys for that eve.
Fear is Real
Shampoo in the eye is the nemesis of many a toddler. If you think a previous experience with this might have them spooked, you could try a bath visor to help rinse shampoo away from innocent eyeballs, and keep a soft, dry towel on hand to mop up any accidental splashes or drips. Or, give goggles a go!
Other fears could be associated with slips in the tub, toileting accidents at inopportune times (gross for parents, but imagine having to bathe in it!) or the sound of draining water. Have a non-slip bath mat handy to avoid slips in the tub. Encourage a few minutes of sitting on the potty or toilet before bath time. And though it might seem mad to a grown-up, your toddler might fear being sucked down the drain with the bath water! To ease this anxiety, show your child that their trusty rubber duckies emerge unscathed after every bath.
But… They’re Getting a Little Smelly…
If it’s a hard ‘no’ to venturing into the watery abyss, try easing back into the idea slowly with a clothed, water-free play session in the tub. Or your little one might like to stand next to the bubble-filled bath while you try a sponge clean - sometimes it can look so inviting they’ll want to pop in with aplomb!
Okay, They’re in! Now How Do We Keep it Fun?!Toddlers are constantly growing, learning and changing, so how do we keep them happy and engaged with bath time, now they're back in the tub?
Look at the environmentToddlers can be pickier than food critics; maybe the bath time environment needs a metaphorical zhuzh. Can you enhance the ambience and change up the lighting? Or play some of your childs favourite boppy tunes (before rounding it out with some more relaxing music)? Look for simple ways to change up the surrounds.
Tailor the tub toysA splashy solution might be to rotate different bath toy options every few weeks to keep things fresh. Try to appeal to your little ones current interests - if they’re keen readers, maybe a bath book will help to engage. Love a tea party? Try a waterproof, silicone tea set. Ball obsessed? Try a waterslide marble run. Or, toy overload? Clear out all toys from the bath and encourage toddlers to choose one or two on their own each night - they’ll enjoy the perceived control.
Bubbles + pretend play = possible perfection
Bubble baths are the spa treatment for pint-sized adventurers. Add bubbles, create a bubbly kingdom, and watch your toddler become the ruler of their own aquatic domain. Maybe try blowing a bubble blizzard or donning a bubble beard! Look out for gentle bubble bath mix with no nasties to protect your little ones delicate skin and avoid irritations.
Take the (Water) Pressure Down
Nobody needs daily bath battles with tiny tyrants. As long as hands, face and the nappy area are being kept clean, then every other night is a-okay when it comes to bathing babes and toddlers (unless they’re visibly grubbier than a mud-wrestling champion or starting to stink up a storm, that is), so try and take the pressure off. Patience, reassurance, and a splash of creativity can help transform bath time from an unpleasant ordeal to an eagerly anticipated, aquatic adventure. And don't forget - everything is a phase!