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Category: Character
Category: Education
Category: Health
Category: Leisure

Teach Your Child to Bathe Themselves

Children usually enjoy bath time. Bathing your baby relaxes him as you carefully wash all the creases and folds. As children grow older, they become ready to assume this self-care task. Teaching them to bathe themselves will come in stages as they become more able to do a good job.


Young children will often take the washcloth from Mom or Dad and say, “I do it!” When this happens you have been put on notice! It’s time to start teaching your child to bathe.

Before beginning, gather the towels, soaps, shampoos and bath toys you will need. After starting, you’re stuck there! Supervision remains extremely important for years to come.

Let your child apply soap to a wet washcloth and start at the face. Direct them to do their arms, trunk, legs and bottom. Help them get the very hard to reach places and their back. If they quit early, it is your signal to finish the job.

Shampooing remains Dad and Mom’s job until about age 6 or 7, so finish by shampooing and rinsing well. Your child will feel very proud that he has started to bathe himself. Getting him his own tearless shampoo, personal towel and bathrobe will encourage their continued interest.

At about 4 or 5 kids are able to get to most of the “hard” places by themselves. They will need you to check ears, feet and bottoms and do a final rinse.

Along with a tub bath, children need to brush their teeth (you will need to supervise and do the flossing), comb their hair, wash hands after toileting and when they need it, and take care of their soiled clothes. They can hang towels if racks are low enough to reach. They will demonstrate their readiness and that will be your cue to let them try.

Main points to address:

  • Toddlers can do some of the bathing. Help them do the rest.
  • Keep bath time pleasant and relaxing for you both.
  • Never leave a child under 6 unattended in the bath.
  • Surrender specific tasks as they show willingness to try them.
  • You will need to check them to make sure they have done a complete job.

Grades K-3rd

Children aged 5-9 can handle most bathing tasks independently, but still need adult supervision and assistance. Never leave a child under 6 alone in the bath. Don’t even turn your back to them. They will probably need help with their back, and children this age still need Mom or Dad to clip nails and fasten hair.

Having their own bath basket or tote will help them organize their bathing supplies. Giving them their own bath soap and other vanity items will show them you believe they can do a good job on their own, and they will!

Main points to address:

  • Children still need supervision and assistance, but less each year.
  • Never leave a child 6 or under alone in the bath.
  • Get them a tote or basket for their own bath items.

Grades 4-6th

Older children may begin to “un-invite you” by telling you they can do it themselves! Many kids become more modest at this stage and need privacy for personal grooming. They may also prefer to take showers rather than baths.

Teach them to have their clean clothes ready and to run the bath water themselves. They can prepare towels and washcloth and put the bath mat down. They should be able to do all bathing tasks independently. You may want to buy them a back brush with a long handle and continue to check their hair if it is long or thick for shampoo residue. If you don’t find any for a few days running, you may surrender this job too.

It is still necessary to standby within earshot just incase your child needs you.

Children 10 to 12 may need to add deodorant to their bath basket. Girls may need other personal items in their’s at this age. You may still need to check to see if brushing and flossing are being done correctly.

Children this age are able to clean the tub after using it and hang towels to dry. The bathroom should look the same when they leave as it did before they entered! Your child will take pride in doing this self-care task independently.

Main points to address:

  • Older children will start to need more privacy.
  • They will be able to complete most or all bathing tasks.
  • Add personal items as needed to bath baskets.
  • Cleaning the tub after use, hanging towels and taking care of soiled clothes are part of bathing. Let them do it!

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Health.

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