How to make bath time bonding time for you and your toddler

As parents we are faced with many challenges as our children enter each phase in their development. Attitude towards bath time is just one example. They could love bath time as a baby and then have a complete turn around as they enter their toddler years. Why the sudden change in attitude? 

There maybe a good reason for your toddler resisting bath time. It could be due to shear stubbornness or it could be a genuine phobia. Try talking to your toddler to establish what it is they dislike about bath time - is it the fear of shampoo burning their eyes, a horrible sensation that they are going to be sucked down the drain pipe, the discomfort of feeling cold or the association with bedtime (that perhaps brings with it other types of anxieties). Understanding what it is can help in finding a way of offering reassurance so that bath time becomes fun time.

One approach is to make bath time part of a daily ritual.  According to Dr Sears , a good approach to minimise any anxiety around bath-time is to make it an important part of a bedtime ritual where bath is followed by, for example a massage, a story and then cuddles before bed. This expected pattern of events will help your child overcome their phobia of bathing knowing it will be followed by something they enjoy and look forward to.

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Perhaps your toddler is going through a growth spurt making them feel tired and fractious in the evenings. This could add to their bath time anxiety. In such a situation it may be better to move bath time forward by an hour. Follow this with restful activities so that they are aware that, although earlier in the evening it is still part of their bed time ritual. 

Follow these tips to make bath time fun time 

  • Hate having their hair washed: Let them bring a doll into the bath to bathe and wash the dolls hair. Invest in a shampoo eye shield. They cost around £3 and are effective at stopping shampoo and bath water running into your child's eyes.
  • Play games: use plastic cups, saucers, tea pot and milk jug and have a tea party. Use bath bubbles to make cream cakes and delicious lattes! My daughter loved making me "cuppa-tuna!" and I was given an endless supply at bath time. A simple game can really make it a fun and a real bonding time. Kneel at the bath so you have direct eye contact with your toddler so they can how much you are enjoying the activities with them.
  • Use bath crayons to get creative:  you could also use this as a way to learn the alphabet, colours, numbers and counting. 
  • Rotate bath toys: this eliminates boredom and offers something new and exciting each day
  • Play catch: use a soft bath toy and play throwing games
  • Duo bath time: it may just be that getting in the bath too will calm your toddler. This is also a great way to bond 
  • Fear of the plug hole?: Keep emptying the bath until after your toddler has been lifted out of the bath. Perhaps leave a couple of toys in the water and show him/her that despite the water draining out the toys remain in the bath tub! 

Stressed by the amount of water that ends up on the bathroom floor? Put a towel down at the door way to dry feet before leaving the bathroom then use it to soak up the splashes and wring it out ready for the following days fun and games.

Is bath time fun for you too?

While bath time can be a fun time and an opportunity to bond with you baby or toddler aching knees or lower back can take the fun out of this special time of the day (especially if you are a working parent). Kneeling on a hard tiled floor puts pressure on our knees and that wear and tear can bring on pain such as bursitis or 'house wives knee'. Eliminate this by investing in a kneeling pad.