Brawling Bath Time Tykes

Hi! I'm looking for tips for bathtime for my charges ages 3 and 4. The 4 year old girl has long hair that tangles easily and is a mess before she gets out of the tub. The 3 year old always fusses about getting in the tub. He's fine once he's in but it's hard to wash him because he wants to play and fights me about washing him. They both complain about rinse off and having to get out of the tub. Any tips will be appreciated. Also is it weird that they are still being bathed together? Mom think it's ok, but I think they should start having seperate baths... one is a boy and one is a girl after all.


world's best nanny said...

OMG, buy some detangler, braid it after you wash it. No toys in the tub till washing is done. 3 and 4 is still young enough to bathe together.

BrooklynMomma said...

I agree with the above. Both my kids bathe together still (3 yr boy, and 5yr girl) and they will bath together until one or both expresses otherwise. Do you have a handheld shower head? Sometimes I use it to rinse the kids off that way because its easier and quick. If you wash hair and bodies first, then the kids can play afterward. I would tell them first so they know what to expect and will hopefully cooperate in an effort to get to play sooner.

Bethany said...

3 & 4 is fine together.They're still babies. Don't make an issue where there is none. besides would you rather go through the process twice and have to watch a child in & out of the tub at the same time?

Toys: let them play a bit first. This also helps to keep them from sitting in soap for too long. If you can have special toys that are just for tubtime use them. It's like a special treat for the kids.

For the hair: Do not scrub wash instead smooth wash the shampoo/conditioner through her hair. Detangle with wide tooth comb while conditioner is still in her hair. Use a cup, shower sprayer, or watering can to rinse her hair. Pouring the water over the hair withought handling it much to cause tangles. FYI in my experience little kids love rinsing with a little plastic watering can. They're inexpensive and when they out grow it can be used around the house.

The Boy:
Get him involved in the washing. He may just want more control and is doing the "I'm a big boy routine". Let him know he can play again when the washing is done. You can also make a sort of game out of the washing.

Rinsing: Watering can is fun for this too. To get them out I always tell my charges they must get out when the water is drained from the tub. Sometimes we even do a count down.

blurp said...

3 and 4 is NOT too old to bathe together. Good grief! As long as they're both comfortable, it's FINE.

Use conditioner and a wide-tooth comb in the girl's hair.

Lyn said...

Johnson and Johnson have an INCREDIBLE detangling spray. It comes in a green bottle. It works wonders on my 3 year old charges incredible curly (and therefore tangled,haha) hair.

Manhattan Nanny said...

Do they have lots of bath toys? Soap crayons to draw on the side of the tub? Add in different sizes of empty bottles (plastic!), yogurt containers, you get the idea.
My cares take swimming lessons, and we practice holding breath and blowing bubbles under water. I time them with my watch. My cares love bath time!
I do play time first, so the water isn't soapy. Then let them do as much of the washing themselves as they are capable of.
And good lord, get some detangler!

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I agree for the little girl, use some de-tangler when she gets out of the tub. Simply spray it on her hair and use a wide-tooth comb gently. That should do the trick.

No, the kids are not too old to bathe together. They are still quite young.

If bathing one of the kids becomes too much of a physical/mental hassle, I would ask the parents if they could just bathe him instead.

Case in point:
One of my charges absolutely screams at the top of his lungs when I just say the words "Bath-time!!" Then he fights me tooth and nail while I undress him and put him in the bath tub. He even fights me when I try to wash him and let me tell you, I would rather walk on broken glass barefoot than bathe him. Well, after about 2 or 3 times of going through all this, I had a talk w/his parents and told them I couldn't handle the stress anymore. I asked them if they could please bathe him ahead of time so I didn't have to go through all of that.

They agreed and now when I arrive, he is already bathed and dressed and I no longer dread going through hell every day.

princess said...

Uh yeah, detangler is like 3 bucks! I got some for the girl I watch and she has fine, short hair and I don't bathe her. Its just what happens with little girls' hair.

About them bathing together, I don't think its weird but I do wonder if it would be easier to bathe them separately. Do they play together and that's why they don't wanna get out? Just a thought.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I have a few suggestions, but not sure if they will work for you and your charges...

I would let them play in the tub for a few minutes first but perhaps use a timer or countdown system until it's time to wash. "3 minutes until it's time to wash hair" then one min, then "ok now let's wash our hair!" Have them put the toys in a bin or bucket or whatever. Wash hair but make it fun (without letting it get out of control). Then I'd let them play for a few more minutes then do the countdown again til it's time to wash their bodies. Again clean up the toys. Have them do as much as they can by themselves, they are at the age of wanting to do things for themselves. Then you can either let them have the toys again or just end bath time there. If you do let them have the toys again, give them a few minutes and use the countdown again.

I would allow yourself more time for bath time so that you aren't rushing. Have fun with them and make it less stressful (even though it may stress you out). Let them squirt the shampoo. Have races to see who can wash their hair quicker. Make silly hair dos with the shampoo, etc. I know bath time shouldn't be playtime but a child who hates bathing needs a little more encouragement to make it seem like it isn't such a chore. After some time of this routine, you won't need to do the countdown and they will know what comes next.

Village said...

My sister in law had an unusual solution to bath time. She has three daughters, close in age. When they were little, instead of using a tub, (she was so concerned with drowning, their eight person Jacuzzi in the atrium was filled with stuffed toys, which always cracked me up) she put the girls on the floor in a large shower. They would stay in there for awhile playing and getting soaked. When they were through, she would do the necessary wipe on each child, soap their hair, rinse them well, and out they'd go wrapped in towels. The girls loved to go play in the rain as they called it.

nannyof3 said...

I'm a nanny for three girls and the youngest used to give me HELL to brush her hair. Im talking yelling, crying, kicking and screaming. (I actually remember I used to do the same thing to my mom...& then I remember her holding me between her legs and her brushing my hair with my head upside down lol) we found a great brush called The wet brush. You use it when the child's hair is wet and you feel almost NOTHING. I didn't believe it..I tried it on myself and I ended up ordering one for me! lol. MB bought three for the girls at $13 a piece but I ordered mine online for $6. It's worth a shot.. The youngest sometimes brushes her hair herself now but always asks me to do it over since she thinks she isn't getting all the knots.. I thank god for this brush lol

world's best nanny said...

LOL@Anonymous nannyof3

One of my very first nanny jobs was for an African-American family, they had a boy and a girl. The girl was 3 and cute as a button, until hair fixing time. There I was a white girl trying to do that poor girl's hair. She screamed bloody murder!!

Susannah said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a 3 and 4 year old sharing a bath.

Aletheia said...

There are lots of good suggestions here. I would add that you need to pick be firm! They need to know that making a fuss will not get them out of bath time, nor will it get them lots of extra attention. While you're washing them, make it as quick as possible, and get them distracted --ask silly questions, like "would you rather have lizard skin or feathers for hair?", etc. then work up to them helping and eventually doing their washing themselves-- but I would first get them used to a routine before adding that.

Aletheia said...

Sorry, "be firm"-- not "pick" lol

listymclisterson said...


1.)A quality pair of googles, for each child
2.)Repurposed small plastic containers
3.)Straws for blowing bubbles. I've never seen a toddler or older child drink. But of course be alert.
4.)Water safe toys
5.)Bubble bath (J&J lavendar makes a lot of bubbles that stay, plus it smells amazing & lavendars scent is calming. Of course its to be used in moderation. Especually with little girls.
6.)Clean towels in the bathroom before the bath
7.)I like using a loofah & body wash. It creates a ton of suds.
8.)Music, classical is a great choice. Anything that's not intense works. Keep the cd player or radio out of the splash zone. Music changes your brain, is calming & improves your mood.
9.) A detangler hair comb. This is a comb that has a single row of hard plastic bristles, large in size & spaced apart enough to work the tangles out. Always brush from the bottom of the hair, up. Otherwise, you'll make the tangles much worse.
10.)Good quality shampoo, conditioner & detangler.

Texas Nanny said...

Question for those of you in the comments - what's a red flag that opposite-sex siblings should NOT bathe together?

The two I watch are 2 and 3 years old, which yes is younger than the OPs charges, but a couple times recently when the kids were naked I've had to talk to the 2 yo because she's been trying to touch her brother's genitals.

I never had siblings but to me that seems like something we should nip in the bud by removing the opportunity.

Phoenix said...

it is perfectly ok for them to still take a bath together. it should stop though when the girl is 7.

but you need to brush her hair before she gets into the tub. the best way to do that is to hold her hair in your hand like you are going to put it into a pony-tail. When you comb the hair down close your other hand and tighten it around the top. this keeps her hair from pulling her scalp. I have really long hair and that is how I brush mine out. If you don't brush the hair before she gets it wet it will be 10 times harder to detangle.

CurlySue said...

Phoenix, you don't brush curly hair when it's dry. You comb or brush it when wet, apply products as needed, and let dry. Some people blow dry, but that dries it out and damages it more, in my experience.

OceanBlue said...

@ Texas
The 2 year old is just curious and his penis is right there to grab.
You probably know this but 2 year olds like to grab anything and everything.

It's not like she's trying to feel up her brother.

Handle it like anything else she's not supposed to be touching.

OceanBlue said...

2 & 4 is still ok together you probably have a couple more years before they start being uncomfortable bathing together.

Now if it's just too much for you to handle both of them in the bath at the same time that's different.

I'd say let them play first and then wash. You can play games like do soap dots or crayon soapand they have to wash it off.

Use lots of conditioner on the girl's hair and a wide tooth comb and try to keep from scrunching it up. I have long tangly hair and this works for me.

thebud-nipit said...

Id start bathing them apart because I am paranoid of being accused of anything. You don't want those kids to start exploring exploring each other. Is it normal? Of course. Natural? Yep. But again, Id still stop the bathing. No, I'm not a prude. I'm just looking to prevent awkward questions from the parents like,"why are my kids touching each other?" Nip it in the bud & gl.

NannyK said...

My kids are 3 and 5.5 and they bathe together. 5.5 boy and 3 year old is a girl. Her hair is super tangly so I just brush it as soon as we get out. The bathroom counter is too high for her to get off, so I set her on it and brush her hair and she can't get away... lol! After shampooing though it's not usually tangled.

I usually let them play at the beginning for as long as I feel like (usually 5-10 minutes) and then I wash their hair. The soap from their hair washes into the water, so then I half ass bathe them since they squirm so much, but the water is already soapy so they do get clean. Then I pull the drain out and they can play again until there's no water.

Wrap towels around them and lift them out (then we do "washing machine" where I shake them all around while drying them off - they LOVE it), and then done.

Phoenix said...

No, you have to brush tangled hair when its dry before it gets wet. If you don't you have a huge mess to deal with. Having long hair I know how to deal with long hair. you can comb it wet as well but you have to detangle it before you get it wet