Once you get the knack for bathing a baby, it’s pretty easy to plunk the little thing in his little tubby and wash all his cracks and crevices. And before you know it, you’re done. You’re in control. Bathing a toddler, on the other hand, is more like wrestling an alligator full of pudding. This slippery little sucker is one part giggly, splashy fun, one part dangerous explorer, one part random flailer of body parts, and one part escape artist. You best come prepared for this rodeo. And we got your back (and your knees…).
Tubbie toys are an obvious must-have. They distract your little monster from the real job at hand – cleaning them from top to toe – which toddlers have a strange aversion to. Maybe the dirt and grime is evidence of some sort of achievement? Like, “Hooray! I figured out how to throw sand and make it shower down upon me!” Whatever the reason, they need something to keep their attention (and hands) occupied. Opt for PVC- and BPA-free. In a pinch or on a dime, grab un-pokey, un-sharp, unbreakables from the kitchen. Kids are curious creatures fascinated by most anything.
Water + Soap + Smooth Surfaces = Slippery as the Dickens. Help your kiddo stay put with a non-skid tub mat (like the clever one pictured below from Infantino that doubles as a toy storage basket!). In a pinch, you can even lay a towel under them. (Yes, it’ll get soaking wet, but it helps.) Another imperative owie avoider is a bath spout cover. If your kid bonks his coconut on that thing, you might never get him in a tub again.
Choose tear-free, plant-based body washes and bubble baths that are gentle on eyeballs (although, you really should still avoid getting them in your kiddo’s eyes ‘cuz anything in the eye can be irritating) and are also gentle on skin.
One of the fastest ways to cause a toddler melt-down is by treating them like babies. They are big kids. They can do things by themselves! (Or so they say/demand.) Give them some control of the bathing process with a fun sponge or bath mitt. If they’re the type that insist on adding the bubble bath to the water (and proceed to squeeze the bottle dry), keep 2 bottles on hand. One for you with regular bubble bath and one for your little monster that’s very, very diluted bubble bath. Give one a small mark with a permanent marker so you can tell them apart.
Don’t forget about you! For the best-est toddler bath time you need to be as comfortable as can be, too. Kneeling on a hard floor and leaning on a hard tub ledge – it’s tolerable for about 2 minutes. Ease the strain and pain with padding just for you. You can easily fold up some bath towels for some cushion, but there are also adorable kneelers out there, too – like this cutie from Skip Hop.