Bath time for toddlers: basics
Bathing your toddler 2-3 times a week is usually enough to keep them clean.
But you do need to wash toddlers’ faces and genitals every day. And a bath every day is fine if your toddler gets dirty from playing or enjoys bath time, especially as part of a relaxing and calming bedtime routine.
Avoid using soap, because soap can dry out your toddler’s skin. You can use a mild cleanser instead if needed.
If your toddler has dry skin, it’s better to give them shorter, lukewarm baths.
And your toddler’s hair needs washing with shampoo only when they’re more active or you notice their hair looks oily.
Safety at toddler bath time
Even if your toddler can sit up by themselves in the bath, bath safety is still very important.
Here are tips to keep your toddler safe at bath time:
- Never leave the bathroom. Make sure you’re within arm’s reach at all times.
- Get everything ready in advance – towel, washcloth, cotton wool, mild cleanser, clean nappy and clean clothes. This means you can stay with your toddler for bath time.
- Fill the bath to the height of your toddler’s belly button when they’re sitting down.
- Make sure the hot water tap is turned off hard. When the bath is ready, briefly run cold water through the tap so water in the tap won’t burn anyone.
- Check the water temperature is between 37°C and 38°C before you put your toddler in. It should feel comfortably warm but not hot.
- Let the water out as soon as bath time is over. Remove bath plugs from the bath when they’re not in use.
- If your toddler is showering with you, place a non-slip mat on the shower floor so your toddler won’t slip.
And when your toddler isn’t in the bath and the bathroom isn’t being used, make sure the bathroom door is closed. This helps to reduce drowning and scalding risks around your home.
It’s important to stay with your toddler at all times when they’re in the bath. Never leave older children or siblings to supervise. They don’t have the skills to react to an emergency. Children can drown in a few seconds in very shallow water.
Afraid of the bath
Some toddlers are afraid of the bath. If this happens, take your toddler’s fears seriously, because they’re very real to your toddler. You’ll need to be patient with your toddler as they learn to enjoy bath time.
Here are ideas to help your toddler overcome a fear of the bath:
- Have a bath together.
- Let your toddler choose safe toys for the bath – toys that don’t trap water and can be easily washed.
- Get your toddler to leave the bathroom before you take the plug out. The sound of the water going down the drain can be very scary for some children.
- Shower with your toddler.
- Let your toddler sit in the baby bath in the big tub (if they still fit).