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The Bath to Shower Transition: How I Helped My Child Make the Switch

Bathtime is a fun time—watching kids splash around and sink into the bubbles is truly a joyful parenting moment. Plus, who doesn't like making shampoo mohawks on your tot's head? But after years of this backbreaking task, I longed for the day when my girls would finally start to wash themselves standing up. Sure, I had a lot more control when the kids were sitting on their bottoms in the tub, but because children and water can be a dangerous mix, I was also tied to the toilet seat.

I'm not going to lie, transitioning to the shower was a process, but mostly because it was dictated by my girls' interest (okay, I prodded them a little!). Washing like a grown-up definitely held some appeal, so I played up that aspect—big time. And I told them showering is usually faster than taking a bath, which meant more time books and cuddles before bed. When my eldest was about 6, she said she was ready. If you're not sure if your child is ready, ask yourself these questions.

Safety is paramount when it comes to any task in the hard-edged box that is the bathroom. I still had to be nearby, of course, to make sure that washing was actually happening—and that all the hot water didn't flow down the drain for a solid hour—and I needed to check in toward the end to see that the shampoo was rinsed out. But for the most part, our inaugural, monitored showers were a success.

When your kids are ready to shower solo, you might want to try what worked for us:

Nix monkey business

Mom's not around, but this doesn't mean the music should blast or your kid can take running leaps in and out of the shower. Fooling around with water, soap and slick tiles can result in bumps, bruises—or worse. Remind your kid that the shower is for cleaning up, not for breaking a collar bone.

Water check

A burn from a scalding tap is no joke. The first few times your child takes a shower solo, help him regulate the water temperature. You might also want to clue him in on the shower's wonky ways, such as some faucets are hard to turn or may suddenly blast freezing water without warning.

Add a mat

The shower or tub bottom where your child will be standing can be a very dangerous spot. To prevent falls, place a rubber covering on the bottom or decorate this space with textured decals. When the shower is over, tell your kid to towel off inside the shower, so he won't drip water on the bathroom floor and create a slick and hazardous surface.

Skip oils

They may smell divine, but body washes and other emollients can coat tiles, making them super slippery. Instead, stick to plain soap. And as for shampoo, explain to your tot that a little goes a long way, again, because too many suds can cause slips and falls. Inform your child that a squirt the size of a quarter is plenty.

Open doors

Kids who are 5 and 6 years old may be okay with you peeking into the bathroom during shower time, but as children age, they'll demand (and deserve) some privacy. That said, it's still a good idea to leave the bathroom door slightly ajar, especially in those first days, so you can hear your child if he needs you. The same idea holds true for locking the bathroom. Early in your child's showering career, make sure he knows to keep the door unlocked.