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How to Teach a Child to Take a Bath

By Susan Revermann ; Updated April 18, 2017
Praise your child for cooperating and learning this skill.

Teaching your child to be self-sufficient and how to complete life skills, like bathing, is just part of your child growing up. You’ll want to walk him through the bathing process a few times before he goes solo, letting him do the tasks himself and talking about each step as you go along. Soon, you’ll have a squeaky clean kiddo without having to lift a sudsy finger.

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Have your child gather his bath-time supplies. Place a towel or bath mat on the floor by the bathtub to help prevent slips when getting in and out of the tub.

Ask your child to plug the bathtub drain and turn the faucets on. Talk about how water can burn if it is too hot and show her how to test the water temperature with her wrist. You should always check the water for a younger child before she gets into the water. Run three to six inches of water before turning it off. Place a faucet protector over the tub faucet after you turn the water off to prevent your child from accidentally bumping her head on it.

Let your child get into the tub. Remind him to hold onto the side as he gets in so he doesn’t slip. Have him sit in the tub -- not stand.

Tell your child to wet her hair. She can use a plastic cup for this. Show her how to squeeze a quarter-sized amount of shampoo or all-in-one body wash onto her palm, lather it by rubbing her palms together and then massage her hair and scalp with her fingertips. For a visual, tell her to make cat claws with her hands and to use her fingertips. Rinse the suds with water from the cup.

Proceed from the face down. Have your child wash his face with a damp washcloth. He should also wash the inside and behind his ears with the washcloth. He should use body wash for the rest of the body. Have him rinse the soap residue when he is done.

Allow your child to play with the bath toys a bit before ahe has to vacate the tub, drain the water and dry off.

Things You Will Need

  • Mild, tear-free shampoo or all-in-one body wash
  • Plastic cup
  • Washcloth
  • Towel
  • Bath toys

Tip

Children 6 to 11 years old don’t need to bathe every day. The American Academy of Dermatology suggests bathing once or twice a week, unless your child gets really dirty, has gone swimming, has gotten sweaty or is smelly. Placing no-slip strips on the bottom of the bathtub can help prevent slipping. You can create a bath checklist for your child to follow. Make the wording simple or use pictures. Protect the checklist by laminating it or using contact paper. Hang it somewhere in the bathroom that your child can see from the tub.

Warning

Never leave a child under 6 years old alone in the bathtub. Children can drown in only a few inches of water.

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