While a bath at the end of the day is a luxurious treat for adults, it’s often a warzone for parents of toddlers and young children who actively and loudly protest at the very thought of getting into the bath, never mind staying there.
Navigating your way through this ‘crazy hour’ after a long day can be daunting, but these insights, tips, and tricks could help make bath-time a much happier experience for you and your little one – it could even be the highlight of your day!
Understand the senses
Just as a bath is a sensory experience for adults, it’s also a sensory experience for children – and it’s possible that they may not like the sensations they experience in the bath. It may be that the noise of the running water is too loud, or the water is a little too warm, or they’re daunted by their unsteadiness in the water when they slip or start to float.
There are a few ways to address these issues. You could run the bath before they’re in the bathroom, so that they come into a quieter room if noise is an issue, or you could put an older toddler into an empty bath before you turn the taps on and let them tell you when they’re happy with how much water there is. This also gives them a sense of control over their environment, which could help reduce tantrums.
Little people don’t like change
Little people love getting deeply involved in their play and being suddenly removed from their game to head to the bath is very frustrating for them.
You could create a transition between play time and bath time by letting them know that bath time is next, once the current activity is complete, or you could implement an audio cue like a bath time song – and another one for when bath time is over.
Kids’ fears aren’t funny
When you’re young and the world is throwing new experiences at you all the time, some things might seem scary, like the little black dust floaties in the bath, or the thought of the water going down the drain – ‘where does it go, and will it take me with it?’
If the thought of fishing out each little dust mote is too much for you, then try hiding them with bubble bath, which is a whole treat on its own. You can avoid the fear of the drain simply by having the bath run before your little one gets in and coming back after bath time to let the water out.
Make bath time fun!
If your little one doesn’t want to bath because they don’t want to stop playing, then let their playtime continue in the bath – but with toys that are for bath time only! You could use bath toys from Lego Duplo that make bath time fun through the sheer joy of play. The buildable animal characters help children understand construction and the simple physics of flotation, and they can spend ages playing with the characters and imagining personalities and scenarios for them. Choose from Bath Time Fun Floating Red Panda, Bath Time Fun Floating Animal Train, or Bath Time Fun: Floating Animal Island.
Set up a reward system
Children love to be recognised for their achievements, and many a behavioural issue can be positively addressed with a rewards system, rather than through punishment.
That goes for the bath time blues too – set up a rewards system with a token awarded for every time your little one doesn’t protest about going to bath, and another one for when they get out of the bath without any hassles too.
Bath time need not be the most stressful time of the day if parents dreading ‘suicide hour’ consider these strategies. Bath time is a great space for little ones to relax, use their imaginations, and even strengthen their emotional and social skills through play and storytelling.
Most importantly, it’s a great time for parents and their little ones to toss the cares of the day aside, and spend some uninterrupted playtime together, followed by cuddles and snuggles before the bedtime routine.