18-36 months

Bath time is often a relaxing and playful part of the day for toddlers. Your toddler will have lots of fun with plastic cups, funnels, bottles and toys that float. A few simple precautions will help keep your toddler safe too.

Bath time for toddlers: basics

By now, your toddler is probably a lot more active, so regular baths will help keep her clean and healthy.

Bathing your toddler 2-3 times a week is enough to keep him clean. But if your toddler gets dirty from playing, or enjoys bath time, you can bath him more often – once a day is fine. A bath at the end of the day can also be part of a relaxing and calming bedtime routine

It’s best to avoid using soap, because soap can dry out your toddler’s skin. If needed, use a gentle non-soap cleanser.

You could let your child get in the shower with you every once in a while. The main challenge with showers – and baths for that matter – can be getting your toddler to come out!

Safety at toddler bath time

Even though your toddler is older and can sit up by herself in the bath, bath safety is still very important.

Here are some tips to keep your toddler safe at bath time:

  • Make sure you’re within arm’s reach at all times, and never leave the bathroom.
  • Get everything ready in advance – towel, face washer, cotton wool, clean nappy and clean clothes. This means you can stay with your child for bath time.
  • Only fill the bath to your toddler’s belly-button height.
  • Make sure the hot water tap is turned off hard. When the bath is ready, briefly run cold water through the tap so water in the tap won’t burn anyone.
  • Check the water temperature is between 37°C and 38°C before you put your child in.
  • Let the water out as soon as bath time is over. Remove bath plugs from the bath when they’re not in use.
It’s important to stay with your toddler at all times when he’s in the bath. Never leave older children or siblings to supervise. They don’t have the skills to see and react to an emergency situation. Children can drown in a few seconds in very shallow water.

Afraid of the bath

Some toddlers might be afraid of the bath. If this happens, take your toddler’s fears seriously, because they’re very real to her.

To help your child overcome a fear of the bath, you can try:

  • taking a bath with your toddler
  • allowing him to choose toys for the bath
  • letting him sit or play in the bath without water in it
  • getting him to leave the bathroom before you take the plug out – some toddlers are afraid of getting sucked down the plug hole
  • having a shower with him
  • letting him sit in the baby bath in the big tub (if he still fits).

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Last updated or reviewed
04-10-2017

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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