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 if your toddler gets dirty from playing or enjoys bath time, a bath every day is fine.
A bath at the end of the day can also be part of a relaxing and calming bedtime routine.
Try not to use soap, because soap can dry out your toddler’s skin. If needed, use a gentle non-soap cleanser. Use the cleanser at the end of the bath so your toddler doesn’t sit in it for too long.
If your toddler has dry skin, it’s better to give them shorter, lukewarm baths.
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 some 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, clean nappy and clean clothes. This means you can stay with your child 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 child 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.
- Keep the bathroom door closed when you’re not using the bathroom.
- If your child is showering with you, place a non-slip mat on the shower floor so your child won’t slip.
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 see and react to an emergency situation. 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 child’s fears seriously, because they’re very real to your child. You’ll need to be patient with your child as they learn to enjoy bath time.
To help your child overcome a fear of the bath, you can try:
- taking a bath together
- allowing your child to choose toys for the bath
- letting your child sit or play in the bath without water, then gradually adding the water
- letting your child wear their bathers
- getting your child to leave the bathroom before you take the plug out – some toddlers are afraid of getting sucked down the plug hole.
- showering with your child
- letting your child sit in the baby bath in the big tub (if your child still fits).