Bath time isn’t always bubbles and laughs for some parents. Bathing can mean a constant struggle – and many tears – to get their toddler in the tub.
Toddlers go through many stages. Even those who once loved bath time fun may all of a sudden develop a fear of baths or go through an unexplainable stage of anti-bathing. If this is your toddler, you’ll be glad to know daily bathing may not be necessary – even in the summertime.
“A child’s immune system is still developing, so germs aren’t always a bad thing,” said Dr. Amanda Gogol-Tagliaferro, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics in Fairlawn. “Researchers are showing exposure to environmental pathogens – including dirt, bacteria that lives naturally on our skin and pet dander – actually lead to healthier immune systems and fewer allergies in the long run.”
There is a limit, of course, and it depends on the child’s activity level that day. But in general, she recommends a bath every other day for the typical toddler, and a quick 2 to 3 minute rinse with mild soap counts!
To help make it a little more fun and a little less fuss when bath night rolls around, arm yourself with these 5 tips from Dr. Gogol-Tagliaferro. Remember, it’s just a passing stage. Your toddler will eventually enjoy bubbles and laughs once again.
- Turn bath time into playtime. Bath toys can go a long way in distracting your child from the bath’s intended purpose. Whether it’s bath bubbles, a rubber ducky or your kitchen measuring cups or strainer, show her bath time is fun. Get creative, like coloring the water or using bath paint to color the tub walls, to entice her to hop in.
- Get her involved. Engage your toddler to help her feel more in control of the washing. Let her turn the water on and check the water temperature. Once in the tub, let her soap up the washcloth, while you scrub her hair – or have her wash her belly, while you clean other areas.
- Avoid her fears. Find the root cause of your child’s fear of bathing, and then alter your routine to avoid them. For example, if your child has a fear of the drain, don’t let the water out while she’s still in there. Or, if she doesn’t like water on her face or she’s scared of soap getting in her eyes, use a cup or washcloth to rinse the shampoo out of her hair.
- Jump in. Bathing together may make her feel more secure about bath time. Play with her toys and show her you’re having fun so she’ll want to join in. Let her see there’s nothing to be afraid of in the tub.
- Read about it. Use books to entice your toddler to take a bath. Choose one about the importance of bathing or how “Tommy” overcame his fears of bath time – and read them before getting in the tub.
“Try to make it a playtime activity,” said Dr. Gogol-Tagliaferro, “and use it as a bonding experience with your child that helps teach her about good hygiene.”