Bath time is usually the rush to the finish, when exhausted parents are just trying to make it through to the finish line; however, this water experience is actually a perfect time to bond, grow, and work on sensory skills.
Most toddlers love bath time and enjoy playing and relaxing. If this is your toddler, get engaged. Ask open ended questions. Count, name, and sing. Add in fun toys (see list below) for an enjoyable, relaxing, sensory filled experience to help your child wind down before bed.
If your toddler is resistant to bath time, pause and really consider why it might be. Is the water/environment to hot/cold? Is the noise too over stimulating? Did he/she have a fall or bump their head on the spout creating a fear (get a spout cover!)? Is it the anticipation of water over the face? Never force the child into the bath. It will cause more damage. Instead, make compromises.
Here are some common bath time issues
Afraid of the space:
It’s okay to sponge bathe for awhile, next to the bathtub. Perhaps your toddler prefers a shower? Maybe the tub is too large and a simple bucket style tub inside the tub will make them feel more secure. They may looked squeezed in, but many prefer it that way! Make sure you have a nice grip surface on the shower/tub floor so the child feels secure.
Afraid of getting their head/face wet:
Some kids adore bubbles, and it’s a great way to help them get used to feeling “wet” on their face. Adding a scent free bubble soap to the bath can create a lovely sensory experience. Encourage bubble blowing, and when they're ready, try having them blow bubbles in the water. Let them be in charge of washing their face and hair. Count down from 3 when pouring water over their hair. Let them hold a towel over their face, if needed, and be conscientious of respecting their need to keep the face dry. You can always wash the face a the sink with a cloth while they brush their teeth.
Afraid of the textures/smells/sound:
Get a fun bath puff to make washing up fun. Some like cloth, some like silicone scrubbies, some like sea sponges. Try a shampoo/body wash with a nice calming lavender scent. Or you might notice your little one does best with no scents. Putting classical music on in the background can help with echoes and reverb often found in bathrooms. These sounds often over stimulate or irritate children.
Short list of developmentally appropriate educational and sensory toys for toddler designed to encourage your little one to learn through play (click the photo to be directed to Amazon.com):
1). Yookidoo Baby Baby Bath Toy- Spin N Sort Spout Pro- Three Stackable Cups, Automated Spout, and Spinning Suction Cup Gears. Supports STEM by introducing children to sorting, constructing and putting physics into play with spinning gear movement.Great for learning cause and effect, developing fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. For ages 9-39 months.
2). Munchkin Wind Up Swimming Penguin Bath Toy. Wind the penguins flippers and watch the little guy swim! Encourages imaginative play, cause and effect and requires fine motor coordination/skills. For ages 9+ months.
3). Munchkin Squirtin Bath Toy, Barnyard Friends. Help your child develop fine motor skills and strengthening intrinsic hand muscles while learning to identify animal names and sounds. Squirt water at targets, at each other (with limits) and under the water to create bubbles. Great way to get kids used to a bit of a splash.
4). Color Me: Who's in the Water? Bath Book. Water brings these playful scenes to life in full color just by wetting the pages. Great interactive learning experience. Ask questions. "Where's the elephant?" "What color is this" "How many star fish". Encourage fine motor skills by "finger painting" each picture. Lovely and fun bath books are one of our favorite bath "toys". Safe at any age, but ages 2+ years will most likely get the most fun out of these books.
5). Munchkin Fishin' Bath Toy. Great for developing hand-eye coordination and teaching cause and effect, the magnetic fishing hook picks up sea creatures. Ages 2+ years.
6). Click N' Play Bath Foam Letters & Numbers with Mesh Holder. Spell out simple words and names, work on letter and color identification and make learning and bath time fun. For ages 3+ years.
7). BUNMO Bath Toys with Suction Bathtub Toy Organizer. This toy takes the cake as far as endless ways to encourage fine motor skills, visual motor skills, coordination, hand/finger strengthening, and attention to task/focus. Sort colors, build shapes, the options are unlimited. They make fun popping sounds and are a fabulous sensory and fidget bath toy. Build, stick, connect, and pop apart these little suckers for hours of fun. (Also- they work great for car and plane ride windows!)
8) Munchkin 10 Piece Bath Crayons. Encourages creativity, color recognition and imaginative play in addition to handwriting/fine motor skills. Did you know writing at an upright angle is extremely beneficial for handwriting development? Use those bathroom walls and create some art! For kids 3 years and above.
9). Bath Toy Basketball Hoop & Balls Set. A great way to get kids to enjoy bath time. Basketball promotes eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, turn taking, and more. For ages 12+ months.
10). Green Toys My First Tug Boat. Ecofriendly tugboat is made from 100% recycled plastic. It has a handle from the wheelhouse to the back deck and a wide-mouth spout at the front to scoop and pour water. Kids love making waterfalls out of the spout, and working on imaginary play and parents can use the spout to wash hair, making the often dreaded moment fun!