Preschoolers are old enough to handle some aspects of bath time themselves.

Teaching Preschoolers About Bathing

by Kathy Gleason

Up until this point with your child, you've probably been bathing her and never gave a second thought to how you were doing it or why. But now your child is a preschooler, and that could mean she's fighting for independence and wondering why she can't wash her own hair -- or even why she has to take a bath in the first place! Get used to it. This is one of the first in many steps your child will take toward asserting herself as her own person with her own opinions on life.

Talk to Kids About Bathing

Explain why bathing is important. For example, bathing washes germs away and helps people stay healthy. It also make you look good for school and smell nice instead of stinky after a long day of playing. Bathing is part of a healthy lifestyle.

Make Bath Time Fun

Let your preschooler pick out their own soaps and bubble baths -- just ensure they are designed for children so they're not too harsh on delicate skin or contain ingredients that will sting her eyes. Choose some fun toys for the bathtub that are only to be used during that time, so they're a little special. Rubber ducks or other animals, boats and waterproof books are some cheap and easy toys for the bathtub. The more fun baths are, the more open little ones will be to taking them!

Encourage Independence

Teach kids that, now that they are older, it's time to do more tasks themselves. Show your preschooler how to soap up a washcloth and use it to wash his body, his entire body, even behind his ears and under his arms. Demonstrate how to wash his hair. This can be especially tricky with children who have long hair. You might need to show them a few times and help them out with rinsing in the beginning.


Bathing is often an essential part of a nightly bedtime routine. Active preschoolers should take a bath daily. If your child's skin is dry, every other day might be better, or follow baths up with applying lotion to the skin.

Bath Safety

Always test bath water before allowing your child to step in to ensure the water isn't too hot. While preschoolers are becoming more independent, it's still not safe to leave them in the bath tub alone. Keep your child company while she bathes, even if she insists on doing all the washing and shampooing herself. You can sit on the edge of the tub, the floor or the toilet and read a magazine or book or catch up on games on your cell phone. Help children into and out of the tub to prevent them from slipping and falling.

About the Author

Kathy Gleason is a freelance writer living in rural northern New Jersey who has been writing professionally since 2010. She is a graduate of The Institute for Therapeutic Massage in Pompton Lakes, N.J. Before leaving her massage therapy career to start a family, Gleason specialized in Swedish style, pregnancy and sports massage.

Photo Credits

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