Bath Time Fun & Skills

By Adrian Greszata
Program Coordinator, Red Cross Water Instructor Trainer
UBC Aquatic Centre

Bath time can be a stressful chore in getting your child cleaned and ready for bed. But bath time can also be play time, and an opportunity to build your child’s comfort around water!

Children learn through playing games in swim lessons, as well as sports. By creating an environment of fun and play, your child will no longer view bath time as the time where they get soap in their eyes, but instead a time they enjoy.

Songs and games make bath time fun!

Try singing one of these songs while bathing your child:

  • Baby Beluga – Your child can splash when they ‘dive and splash all day’. Use whale toys if possible, sing and play while washing.
  • 5 Little Ducks – Same as above, ducks can be replaced with other bath animals.
  • 5 Green and Speckled Frogs – Kids will love knocking the frogs or toys back into the bathtub.
  • Row Row Row Your Boat – While singing, kids can paddle with their hands or a sponge.
  • It’s Raining, It’s Pouring – This is a great one for washing. Choose one body part at a time (arm, leg, tummy, back).


With any of the above games, using toys or props can help encourage play, and are often good distractions when you bathe your child.

  • Squirt Toys – These toys are fantastic as they allow the child and parent to playfully squirt water at each other! The water tickles and you can demonstrate how the squirt toy ‘blows bubbles’.
  • Cups – Any kind of plastic cup works well, and will allow your child to have fun pouring water (the cup can also be used for bathing). Have your child wash one of their plastic toys.

Practicing Bathtub Swimming:

For toddlers in the bath, blowing bubbles in the bathtub, or using straws to blow bubbles can help them to practice rhythmic breathing techniques. Alternatively, place a toy in front of your child’s mouth and have them blow bubbles to push it away.

With the appropriate amount of water in the bathtub, children can lay on their back completely and submerge their ears, practicing their back floats. Try making some noise underwater, knocking or tapping so they can hear the ‘fish’ underwater.

On their front and back, toddlers can practice pointing their toes and kicking up and down.

My Child…

…dislikes getting in the bathtub. It’s a struggle to even get them inside.

Changing the bath time space into a fun environment takes time and small progressions. To start the process, try bathing the child’s toys with them, such as a bath time baby doll.

…dislikes getting water on their eyes or face.

Progressions! Have them wash their own face with only a few droplets of water, and increase the amount of water used each time. Reassurance and positivity will go a long way. Try having the child wash your face first, while you kneel over the tub.

…dislikes when water runs over their face when I wash their hair.

Try leaning their head back slightly, place the crook of your hand on their forehead and wash their hair slowly, starting with the back of the head. This will prevent any water from spilling over their face. Alternatively, lay them down with their ears in the water to wash their hair, and then rinse any remaining soap with the previous method.

Remember kids learn best through play, and will be more open to activities (chores) that are fun. Making everything into a game, or a song, at a young age will build your child’s comfort level during bath time and around water.