Adults don’t like baths. Only about 30% of us prefer them to showers and the biggest push back is – time. We don’t want to spend ages soaking in a tub, no matter how relaxing we tell ourselves it might be. Busy lives often mean a quick shower each day is luxury enough.
But the evidence suggests this is no bad thing. Long baths spent soaking in water dissolves natural moisturising factors in your skin and actually inhibits your skin from naturally protecting and moisturising itself. Of course, a quick hygienic clean of our sweatiest bits is not something we’re going to persuade you to skip. But short showers or infrequent baths is what the doctor orders.
However, when it comes to our kids, we often apply different rules. Bath time is often the time we want our kids to wind down, and kids really do enjoy (most of the time) spending time in the bath. It means we end up leaving them to soak longer than is good for their skin and then on top of that we spend ages making sure they’re properly washed.
Our advice is to do one or the other, turn longer baths into playtime and keep the washing to separate occasions when there is a quick and fuss-free moment.
Three GRASP secrets to a peaceful bath time:
Learning > lathering
Teaching your kids about hygiene and looking after their bodies is more important than doing it for them and getting them clean when they’re little. There are times when they really need a wash of course.
Dirt build up behind the ears, sweaty bed heads and accident prone pre-schoolers wetting themselves are all great times to make sure kids are getting a thorough wash. But most of the time bath time should be about learning.
Too often we’re so focused on getting the job done through the screams or tears – hello hair washing! – that we forget to teach and encourage kids to do it for themselves. Prioritising their learning helps give them the habits they need later in life, and the best habits are learned young.
Connecting > cleaning
Spending more time talking and less time trying to get your kids clean is a better way to use bath times. Whether it’s talking about bodies and encourage greater self -awareness of our health & hygiene or just taking time out from routines to connect emotionally with how your kids are doing, bath time is the perfect place to chat.
Don’t rush to the cleaning, or put your kids getting properly cleaned on an unnecessary pedestal. The time can be better used to re-connect with your kids on the things they’re interested in.
Watching > Washing
That common refrain, “look mum” or “look dad” is one that can drive you to tears as a parent when you’re in the middle of a 1001 other things. It always seems like they come at the worst times – in the middle of cooking, in the middle of changing a nappy etc etc. But maybe that should just come as a reminder that we don’t always need to be in the middle of things.
Bath time is a great self-contained space for your kids to show off with your undivided attention. Even for a short amount of time, sitting by the bath and watching what your kids are doing is a powerful way to give them the attention they desire. Instead of getting busy with washing, hold off and use the time to watch, chat and engage. Bath time doesn’t have to be another chore that needs doing.
There are times when a quick wash is all you have the time for, and a long peaceful bath time is not on the cards. But if you feel like the routine of bath time - soaping, scrubbing and hair washing has sapped the joy out of the experience, try and re-prioritise what bath time is about. Help you and your kids get back to enjoying the experience.
When you’ve got a toddler that’s fed up with bath time there’s also a whole different approach needed. Checkout this guide on what to do when your little one has fallen out of love with bath time.
What makes a great bath toy for kids?
The other path to a successful bath time is toys. We have separate ‘bath toys’ in our house that creates novelty for bath time. This is our GRASP criteria for choosing great bath time toys.
Find durable bath toys
Flashing lights and beeping sounds are tempting, but ultimately wasteful. The sounds and lights wont last long and for bath toys, changing batteries is not really an option without breaking the waterproofing. It means after not too long you’re left with a clunky piece of plastic that doesn’t do what the kids expecting.
Look for bath toys that inspire
The best toys don’t just deliver fun on a plate, they inspire your kids to make their own fun. Inspiration toys help kids play creatively, teaching them things they didn’t know before and giving them skills to use in other games and areas of their lives. This is why we’re a big fan of sensory toys which you can read more about here.
Use sustainable bath toys
We probably get through too many toys per child and the environmental impact is not good. One thing to explore is hiring or renting toys for your kids. Alternatively, choosing wooden toys or toys made from recycled material is a great way to keep things more sustainable. They tend to be simpler toys, but they’re great for inspiring creative play.
Get creative with your bath toys
A toy isn’t something you buy from a shop. It really is anything that kids will play with and kids can really play with anything given some encouragement. Whether it’s taking some safe plastic or silicone items from the kitchen (think jugs, cups, spatulas and spoons) or encouraging them to clean the bath with the sponges they’ve already got, it’s all great for engagement. It’s why our Pebbl brush is so popular – a simple bath brush that get’s kids cleaning themselves is entertainment enough.
7 of the best bath times for kids
We’re always talking about these guys, it’s just a shame they’re not more widely available in the UK. Soft foam shapes to make DIY boats, space rockets and dinosaurs fit the bill perfectly of inspiring toys for kids. Great for slightly older kids too, they’re the perfect way to encourage fun filled bath times with minimal clutter and maximum creativity.
If you’re at all reticent to get out the colouring pens at the table, especially with little ones, then bath time crayons are fantastic. Minimal mess and maximum creative space for kids. While we’ve always been a bit disappointed with the durability and plastic waste that comes with some crayons. These bath time crayons from Honeysticks are non-toxic and come wrapped in paper so there’s minimal waste. Their jumbo size also gives us confidence they wont break easily.
We talked about baht toys being anything we give kids, and one of the big inspirations behind creating an alternative to the boring bath sponge, was making something interesting that kids could use too. The Pebbl bath brush from GRASP is designed to make washing easier and get your kids involve. When something mandatory becomes a fun activity, you know you’re onto a winner. Just ask Mary Poppins about a spoonful of sugar.
Another example of a simple toy that takes the complexity out of bath time toys while inspiring your kids to play and have fun creatively. These cups can be anything your kids want them to be. Buckets and cups have always been our kids’ favourite toys for the bath and these beautifully designed, and stackable cups are ideal.
The classic rubber duck is a bath must have, but we often don’t realise that non-natural rubber ducks are made from PVC with phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA) added to soften them into the texture we know and love. Safer than this is Oli and Carol’s natural Floaties ducks – as well as a range of other excellent rubber teethers (we’re big fans of the radish!). They have beautiful colours and are safer for your kids. What’s not to love!
Wooden toys from Plan have been going since the 1980s and their trademark simplicity hits all the right notes in inspiring your kids bath time play. You can now get their natural rubber and wood sail boats personalised as well .
While we wish there was a plastic free or recycled plastic option for these, they remain a great toy. Boon’s plastic tubes help create the perfect learning environment for kids to explore with pouring water and seeing it drain and spin into the bath. Such a simple concept, but executed really well.