"Splish, Splash, I Was Taking A
Bath" How To Make Bath Time Fun For The Fussiest Of Kids!
Making bath time fun?
Not an easy task for kids with Sensory
Processing Disorders... particularly, tactile defensiveness!
Every task associated with bathing and hair washing can truly be torture for
these kids; getting their hair wet, pulling the hair while washing it, getting
water or soap in their eyes, using washcloths that feel like sandpaper... and
don't even think about getting them under those stinging streams of water that
come from a shower head!
Oh, I remember these days with my daughter well.
As parents we often resort to some very creative thinking when dealing
with these issues and trying to make bath time fun. I know I did!
Whether your child has sensory issues or not, the everyday monotony of
taking a bath can, in itself, take the fun out of it. Anything that makes this
time more fun will be invaluable! For you and your kids sake... spice it up!
After you read these great ideas below from Jennifer, I will let you in on
some of my secrets for making bath time fun (or tolerable anyways) for kids with
Bath Time Fun
by: Jennifer Gove
Bath time can be fun or it can be a real hassle if your child is afraid or
doesn’t like it. So, we as mothers, try to make it a fun time for our little
ones! Then the problem will be getting them out!
Bubble bath can be irritating to little ones causing urinary tract
infections, yeast infections, as well as skin irritation. A few drops of food
coloring is a wonderful solution adding interest and fun to your child’s bath.
You can also turn each bath into a learning experience; drop one color in, such
as red, then ask your child what they think will happen if you add a drop of
Measuring cups are fun for pouring and filling in the tub and if you have an
old set they are a great free fun set of toys for the tub. They can stack and
pour to their hearts content and maybe even learn to wet their hair for washing.
Control gives many children the power to overcome fears such as getting their
hair wet for washing.
Learning time can be created through the use of measures. Take the one cup
measuring cup and ask the child how many of each cup it will take to fill your
Bath Body Paints
You must use supervision with young children, but we all know you must
supervise young children in the bath any how ;-)
In a few small cups put some hypoallergenic shaving cream (test on the child
a few days before on a very small spot for allergies) then add a few drops food
coloring to the desired color. Mix well. Your child can then enjoy painting
their toes, legs and belly. I would discourage using it in the face area. These
paints are very easy to clean up.
Sing Songs Together
Kids love to sing and to be sung to. Bath time songs like "Rubber Ducky" and
"Splish Splash I Was Taking A Bath" are great bath time songs. When my children
were very young we played "This Little Piggy" as I washed each toe.
My Dolly Too
Little ones like to do as their parents do. Bringing a doll into the tub for
them to wash is often great fun. Show them how to shampoo and rinse the dolls
hair. My daughters all loved to wash their dolls hair as I washed theirs. They
were so preoccupied they did not even care that theirs was being washed!
Wash well with soap and hot water the Styrofoam plates your meats come in.
Once you have about four cut some fish shapes from them. Your child can use the
big one cup measuring cup to capture his fish!!! See how fast your little
fisherman or fisher girl is at catching their fish! If the fish are different
colors you can play fish store and request your special fish and watch them
chase it around the tub. This one makes for lots of giggles.
I save my margarine tub covers and cut out the centers. My shampoo bottles
make great posts to play ring toss with. My only caution is making sure when you
cut out the centers there are no sharp edges. My older kids love to play this in
the tub together.
Cut animal shapes from new sponges; frogs, alligators, sharks, and fish are
all popular bath choices. But really, the choices are endless; you could even
make a fleet of trucks for your little boy! Fabric puff paint would be great to
lightly decorate one side of the sponge. Once it is dry they are grate bath time
companions. They float as well as stick to the tub walls.
Bath Time Safety Tips
Never, never leave a baby or toddler in the tub alone for any reason!
Use a good quality bath mat to help prevent slips and falls.
Run the water first, test it and make sure it is not too hot or cold.
Never allow your child to run the hot tap.
Though bubble baths are great fun, they can cause irritation;
make it a very rare treat if at all.
Make sure razors are put away out of reach.
Jennifer & Gregory Gove
About The Author
Jennifer if a full time stay at home mother living in Maine.
I say, try them all!
As promised, here are some of my own suggestions for making bath time fun
and tolerable, after having had to bathe my tactile defensive child for years!
The first suggestion is to give your child some good
proprioceptive input and deep pressure before bath time. For some great
suggestions on how to do this check out
heavy work activities . These will put your child into a more relaxed
neurological state before beginning!
Now, for specific techniques I used for making bath time fun (or, at least,
tolerable). The most bothersome issue for my daughter was the hair washing.
The slightest pull of the hair or getting water in her eyes was shear "torture".
Two things that helped were:
keeping her head tipped back as much as possible and using a plastic or
"rubber" visor that would keep the water out of her eyes
and, counting down from 20 during rinsing (if using a separate shower
head), or counting 15 big cups of water being poured on her head (allowing for a
breathing break as needed).
Knowing that the "torture" had a predictable end to it, as well as focusing
on counting instead of her fears, enabled us to get through it more easily.
As for tactile defensiveness and washing up, she has always used (and
continues to this day) "baby" washcloths for washing her face and body.
However, there are times we work on tolerating the rougher textures, which is
important to continue so one day she may be able to use them.
If all else fails, try the no rinse shampoos and soaps while working on the tactile defensiveness issues through professional treatment (i.e, Occupational Therapy).
If there are particular spots that are real tough for your child due to
hypersensitivity (for my daughter it is the neck area), have her rub a
strong "mask-like" cleanser on these spots. Let it soak into the skin and
"do it's thing" while she is playing in the tub. Rinse it off or rub it off
with the most she will tolerate that night (i.e., just plain water splashing,
palms of hands, baby washcloth, or a regular one if she is having a good
The last in our "bag of tricks" to make bath time fun was to use music during her bath. On one
of the tapes she had, there was a "Rub-A-Dubba-Dubba" song that
helped us wash her while we sang along. There are many bath time fun tapes
out there... believe me, the entertainment and distraction factors are
And of course, just as you started the bath time "fun" with some good deep
pressure, end it there as well. We would heat a towel up for her in the
dryer, then give her some good tight rubbing and squeezing to dry her off.
Also, good was warming some lotion in our hands and giving her a nice
I know bath time fun is not so fun with kids with tactile defensiveness, but
I hope you find some of these "tricks" helpful. So, go get some great
bath time toys, make some at home, and/or get creative using activities and songs. Bring bath time fun into the "scary" task of getting clean!
Want more options and ideas?
The SPD Store - Your one-stop shop for all your Sensory Processing Disorder needs.
Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with SensoryProcessing Issues
The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder
Understanding Your Child's Sensory Signals: A Practical Daily Use Handbook for Parents and Teachers
Need More Information On Tactile Defensiveness? Click Here
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