Last summer Isobel went through this phase where she absolutely hated the bath. It took us all by surprise because even as a newborn she always loved bathing and playing with water. For awhile there the only time we could get her willingly both in the tub and sitting down is if we let her bathe with Kingston. Parenting is the sort of skill that you must constantly hone on the whetstone of change and adaptation, so we came up with a few games and activities to entice Isobel into the tub without wailing like I’m about to waterboard her. Her favorite game, by far, was Tub Bubbles.
Tub Bubbles was a game we made up after a particularly messy afternoon of playing outside in the dirt. On our way inside I grabbed a bubble dish and a few wands and headed for the tub. I left the bubble solution itself outside, though, because it’s too harsh for the bath. I made my own bath-safe bubble solution by mixing water with a small amount of baby shampoo. It took some trial and error to reach the right consistency but once I hit on the sweet spot (about three parts water to one part shampoo) it worked like a charm and Isobel and I blew bubbles all over the bathroom. A bonus feature of tub bubbles is that they stick to anything wet, so we made games of covering her hand or arm or even belly in bubbles, which she then savored popping one by one. We also had a lot of fun making them stick to wet toys, the side of the tub, the curtain, or even the surface of the water itself.
Other Fun Activities
If you child runs out of fun with tub bubbles, you can keep them entertained a bit longer with these ideas.
- Unused, colorful sponges were a big hit with Isobel. She loved to pretend to “clean” the tub, her toys, and even herself. Their texture is just fun for kids in general and she got a kick out of filling them up and squeezing them out. I cut a few into simple shapes and we stuck them to the sides of the tub wall.
- If you have a funnel in your kitchen that you don’t mind putting in the bath that can be fun to have on hand, too. Add some cups and your kid can mess around with that for awhile.
- Unused toothbrushes are also a tub favorite, for cleaning the tub, practicing brushing skills, or, as Isobel likes to do, cleaning her toys’ teeth.
- My mom made a habit of bringing a soft nail brush into the tub with her when she would bathe Isobel. She liked to use that time to clean her own nails, and so naturally it’s Isobel’s now and she can clean her own nails with it and will eagerly clean yours, too.
- We discipline our cats with spray bottles filled with plain water, and those are fun to bring in the tub occasionally, too. Isobel isn’t allowed to squirt them anywhere but the tub so it gives her that thrill of playing with forbidden fruit.
- One time Isobel asked to bring her pretend make up brush (a real one that I bought for her at the dollar store) into the tub and although it is ruined for make up play it is still a well-treasured bath toy. She treats it like a long-handled scrub brush and will wash her entire body with it–even her back! Best dollar investment ever.
- Isobel likes to use paint brushes in the tub, too, for making water and soap masterpieces.
Nothing compares to the fun of bathing with a friend, of course, but these tub activities have made her a fan of bath time once again.