Strategies to Work Through Bath Time Difficulties

As I discussed in my previous blog, typically bath time is either an extremely preferred activity or a least preferred activity for parents and children alike, as there are many sensory components involved with bath time. When bath time becomes a least preferred activity it can become a dreaded weekly event and can cause extra stress for the entire family. Here are some ways to make bath time a positive experience.

Strategies To Help Your Child Enjoy Bath Time:

  • Finger paint: incorporate bathtub paint or shaving cream into the bathing process. This will help to give more of a tactile experience for your child, in addition to the shampoo and body wash. Allow your child to paint his own masterpiece, or challenge him to draw specific shapes and letters/words on the bathtub walls. If your child is not interested in the child happy in the bathpaints or shaving cream, or demonstrates aversion to the textures, allow him to first be exposed to the paint/cream by squirting some onto the bathtub walls for him to simply look at. Next, have him use a paint brush to poke at the paint/cream, until he is eventually ready to put his finger into the paint/cream.
  • Mohawk: help your child to create silly hairstyles with the shampoo suds in his hair or play beauty parlor. Bring a mirror for him to look in to check-out all of the different crazy styles. This will ideally help your child to be more willing to have his hair washed.
  • Bathtub party: put your swimsuits on and join your child in the bathtub for a “pool party”. Or set-up a “playdate” in the bathtub with a friend, if okayed by the child’s parents. Bring a beach ball or beach toys (e.g. bucket or watering can) into the bathtub to help promote splashing and pouring water. Help your child to see that it is not a scary experience, and remind him that everyone needs to take a bath.
  • Cover his eyes: have your child hold a washcloth over his eyes to prevent soap or water from getting into his eyes (if this is a fear). Similarly, you could try having your child wear a headband, a visor, or goggles to help keep the water from dripping in his eyes.
  • Squirt toys: have your child get his own hair wet using squirt toys. Squirt toys allow for a small stream of water to come out, rather than dumping a lot of water all at once. Squirt toys also allow your child more control over the situation, which can help him to feel more comfortable.
  • Ultra absorbent towel: use a microfiber towel to help dry off the water quicker, and also to provide a softer and gentler material against your child’s skin and hair, as some towels can be scratchy and rough. This will ideally help to end bath time in a positive way.

Bath time is an activity that not only must occur each week, but that will occur the rest of your child’s life. Therefore, it is important to make bath time a smooth and enjoyable routine as soon as possible. Remember to be conscious of all of the senses your child is required to use during bath time (e.g. touch, smell, sounds), especially those which your child may have hypersensitivities to. Make sure to listen to and acknowledge your child’s fears and concerns, and help him to work through the activity one step at a time. Like many situations, patience is definitely a virtue, but when bath time is mastered for a child who has sensory hypersensitivities, it will feel like an amazing accomplishment for both you and your child.

For any additional questions or concerns, reach out to an occupational therapist for further assistance.

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