Baby Talk

A guide on how to give a toddler a bath

Toddlers are ready for the grown-up bath when they can support themselves sitting with confidence. This is an exciting time in their development as they become more social and playful and discover more about safety and how the world around them works.

What you will need

It's important to have everything you need in reaching distance. Some of the basic items include:

  • Towels
  • Toys
  • Soap
  • Shampoo
  • Rinse jug
  • Washcloths

Bath basics

  • Run the water to between 37 & 38 degrees Celsius
  • The water should be waist high to your seated toddler
  • Never leave the bathroom or take your eyes off your toddler
  • Start the bath with playtime, then move to a full body wash followed by a shampoo
  •  Aim to be finished within 15 minutes

How to wash your toddler

You can wash your toddler using soap and your hands just as you would yourself, although a washcloth is a handy way of getting those harder to clean spots.

Always wash from the head down, leaving genitals to last and working front to back. It might be easier to get your toddler standing for this part, which means you can rinse them off before they get out of the tub.

While some toddlers might not like being washed down, the good news is there's not much surface area to cover. With a bit of soap and a quick rub they should be nice and clean.

How to shampoo your toddler

Shampooing your toddler's hair is probably the most anxiety-inducing part of the bath – no one wants shampoo in their eyes! Fortunately there are many mild toddler shampoos that nearly eliminate the sting.

A few things you can do to avoid getting shampoo in your toddler's eyes is to wet it with soap-free water before you start soaping them down. When you're finished soaping, the water should have stopped trickling and their hair will be only damp.

Using a small amount of shampoo, you should be able to keep the suds from their eyes. When it's time to rinse, hold your toddler's head back and a clean cloth or face washer against their forehead. A jug or a specialised toddler rinse cup will help the shampoo wash away down the back of their head.

When should my toddler have a bath?

The timing of your baths will depend on a range of individual preferences and factors. Most families do tend to have a bath before bed since there's less pressure with time and in two-parent families that is usually when both parents are around. Pre-bedtime baths can also become a part of your end of day routine and help settle your toddler down for bed. Ultimately it's a decision you make together and you will find out what works best.

Of course, if your toddler decides to roll in the mud or wear their lunch, it might be time to jump in the tub!


  • Avoid adding hot water to the bath while your toddler is already in it
  • Before your toddler gets into the water, swirl it thoroughly to get rid of any hot pockets
  • Place your toddler away from the taps. Try and teach your toddler that the taps are dangerous to play with
  • Leaving washing towards the end of the bath is a good way to avoid soapy water in your toddler's eyes
  • A good length for a bath is about 10-15 minutes
  • Ideally, toddlers still only need baths 2-3 times per week. But you will soon find that the number will increase the more active and interactive your toddler becomes

How do your toddler bath times go? What are some of the tricks and tips you use to ensure bath time is a fun time?