Toddler bath time tips you NEED

8 tips & tricks to help your toddler LOVE bath time

toddler bath time tips


What’s with toddlers?! They can go from loving something in one second to absolutely despising it the next. I. don’t. get. it.

That’s exactly what happened with my son when he was about 18 months old, and then again when he was about 2.

Here are the things that we tried and have helped get us through those rough patches! (Don’t worry, mama, this, too shall pass! They just have to get through it!)

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bath time tips and tricks

Acknowledge your toddler’s feelings about bath time

It’s so easy to get caught up in the annoyance of your toddler’s big feelings, and forget that your child is still that, a child.

Their big emotions might not make sense to us, and that’s okay; they don’t have to. They are a child and their brains aren’t fully developed.

We cannot reason with them or convince them that there’s no reason to hate the bath; they’re not going to respond and say, “you’re right, Mommy. I’m so sorry for acting crazy for no reason.” (Man, what a world that would be, though, amiright!?)

Maybe you know why they don’t want to take a bath (they were engrossed in play/a game/a show; it’s way past bedtime and they’re overtired; they just got home from being at a friend’s and they’re having trouble transitioning to bedtime routine).

It could be anything, a combination of a few things, or it could be no reason you can pinpoint.

Their feelings are real, even if they don’t make any sense.

Instead of reasoning, arguing, or threatening your child, acknowledge them.

Get on their level, look them in their eyes, and say something like, “I hear you. You really don’t want to take a bath right now. You (really didn’t want to stop playing, really wanted to keep watching that show, etc…)

Just acknowledge what they’re feeling; it can be a best guess. Say it with empathy, not sarcasm. Then, proceed with the bath, using any of the below tactics.

You could also add, “I know you don’t want to take a bath, but we have to wash our bodies to take care of them.” And then, hold the boundary, and proceed with the bath.

Here’s a simple song to get you started!

Sing silly songs to your toddler during bath time (and ABOUT bath time)

My son realllly hated being washed, so I would sing silly songs to him while washing to distract him.

Y’all, the songs were awful (as anyone who heard them can for sure attest) but they helped!

I literally just sang, “Leggy, leggy, leggy, I’m washing your leeegyyyyyy. I’m washing your other leggggyyyyy.” Really beautiful lyrics, I know.

But this is doing a few things: distracting the toddler from the bath, distracting the caregiver from the big emotions (and actions- pushing away, flailing, etc) about the bath, and creating connection between the caregiver and the child.

Silliness distracts and bonds, y’all. Loosen up and let yourself be silly!

tips for toddlers who hate baths

Make it a bubble bath- toddlers LOVE bubble baths!

This worked for a while for us!

Make a really big deal about having a BUBBLE BATH.

Use whatever soap you would like, maybe let the toddler pour the soap in, and watch the bubbles happen (be sure to be super enthusiastic about this; they will feed off your energy)!

Make bubble beards and bubble hair, blow bubbles off your hand at them, cover toys in bubbles, whatever you can think of!

Bubbles (in the tub and outside) are MAGICAL!

how to make bathing fun for toddlers

Get new bath toys (or re-purpose household items into bath toys!)

Purchase new bath toys, or repurpose toys into bath toys (make sure they are water-friendly). Get measuring cups from the kitchen, legos/blocks from the playroom (Busy Toddler loves “lego baths”)… whatever you can find! New toys can go a long way (or at least work for 1 or 2 baths… haha!)

toddler hates bath

Get artsy in the bathtub

Bath paint and bath crayons saved our bath-time!

I first found some in the Target Dollar Spot, then I made some (there are a million different recipes on Pinterest; the easiest for me was soap, cornstarch, and food coloring).

toddler bath tricks

Incorporate water play into daily life

I wondered if my son was afraid of water, as he also hated being in a pool (it was summertime when we first had bath-time distress).

We started incorporating more water play: he played in the water table or kiddie pool outside, with measuring cups and bowls in a bucket/bin, we blew bubbles, put out a sprinkler etc… anything to expose him to water more often.

All you need is a bin or bucket and some things you find in your kitchen drawers. Show your child what they can do (scoop, pour, touch, splash, blow bubbles in the water with a straw/their mouths, taste- if the water is clean, wash a plastic animal or car).

Don’t force them to play; but show them and then let them explore on their own.

Tips to make bath time easier

Let them play in the tub without water

We really tried everything, you guys! I was so desperate for things to get better! I didn’t know if it was the actual tub he was afraid of, so I sat him in the tub with some toys to play with, sans water.

Mom tip: I did this when I used the restroom or needed to clean the rest of the bathroom; kill two birds when you can! haha! Also, I still do this occasionally for both of those reasons!

Bathe every night

I know it seems counter-intuitive, and, quite frankly, like torture for everyone, but my son thrives on routine (like most toddlers).

It felt like he was taken by surprise on “bath night” (before bathing every night we bathed every other). We decided to lean in to bath night, and have it every night as the first thing in our bedtime routine (bath, put on pjs, read books, go to bed).

We hoped that this would take the “surprise” factor away and it would just be a predictable part of our evenings. It was hard, at first, but it really seemed to help.

He knew it was coming, it wasn’t a shock anymore, and he started to accept it, and (eventually) even enjoy it!

Final thoughts on bath time tips for toddlers

These things really worked for us, guys! We still incorporate all of them into bath-time to keep things light and fun for both kiddos and parents, and we are having way fewer issues than we were.

Toddlers are weird and always changing their minds; but they’re also awesome, so fun, and keep us on our toes!

Have y’all done anything else to make bath-time easier? What worked and what didn’t?

If you tried any of these things and they worked (or didn’t), let me know in the comments!

Lots of love,

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Tips & tricks to help your toddler LOVE bath time

Hey, it's Anna! I'm a teacher-turned-SAHM of two young kids. I love to research all things parenting and kid-related and share them on here.


  1. Lacey
    September 2, 2020

    I LOVE this!! I have an 18 month old and totally understand the love of a thing one day and hate it the next. I have not encountered this hurdle yet, but I’m sure I will lol. Fabulous ideas to make it fun.
    Thank you!

    1. Anna Barrett
      September 2, 2020

      Thanks so much! Man, it’s hard to keep up with toddlers’ likes and dislikes! haha! Hope these help you! Thanks for reading!

  2. Caroline Lovejoy
    September 2, 2020

    Fantastic tips! Love the idea of incorporating a song into bath time! “ Silliness distracts and bonds”… so true!!!

    1. Anna Barrett
      September 2, 2020

      Thanks so much! Yess!! All the silly songs!!

  3. Stephanie Ward
    September 3, 2020

    Love this!!!! I need to get some of those bath crayons!!!!!

    1. Anna Barrett
      September 4, 2020

      Yes, girl!!! Thanks for reading and encouraging!!


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