When to Transition Your Kids from Baths to Showers

Making the switch from baths to showers depends on your child.
Bath time is a soothing nightly ritual for many parents and children, and can also be a great way to play in the suds. But at some point, your child will likely want to see what showers are like - and you'll probably be ready to let him. How do you know, though, when your child is ready to safely move from the bath to the shower, and how can you make this transition easy for everyone?

Your best bet is to follow your child's lead, experts say. Some kids are eager to move on to showers as young as the toddler years, while many elementary-aged children are still perfectly happy filling up the tub for their nightly soak. When my son was 3, he was happy to exchange his baths for the chance to stand under the showerhead. But my friend's child, who is 7, isn't quite ready for that step. Since there's no "set" age for when a child first showers, take into consideration your own kid's personality, interest level and maturity for a hint about when this could happen.

If your child does show interest in taking a shower, make the transition as easy as possible. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:

Practice, practice, practice -- Show your child how to turn the water to the proper temperature, how to use the shampoo, and what to do with the soap and washcloth. Many kids are so used to Mom and Dad bathing them, that they really have no idea how to handle these tasks on their own. When my son was 7, and showering for several years already, I discovered that he had largely been standing underneath the water and not using the soap at all! Help your child from start to finish for a few days, until you feel comfortable that they can do it on their own.

Make it safe - Bath tubs are notoriously slippery, so lay down a bath mat, or even a bath chair, for your child, and place a rug outside the shower for wet feet. Also consider removing razorblades - not only are they dangerous, but they are the source of curiosity. When my daughter was in third grade, she decided to "try out" Mom's razor, and shaved her legs and arms. The razor was quickly removed after that.

Stick around - Kids between the ages of 4 and 7 may still need you to be present in the bathroom while they shower. Let them do the work, but be ready to answer questions and prevent them from fiddling with the faucets and possibly burning themselves. Older kids will likely want you out of the bathroom - the need for privacy is another sign bath times may be over -- and should be able to bathe on their own.

Make it kid-sized - Consider buying travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and be sure to explain how much of the product to use. Also think about purchasing mini-bars of soap, rather than full sizes. Skip body washes, which can be tricky to handle, and are super slippery.

Set a timer - Many kids enjoy standing in the shower, long after they're clean. Meanwhile, your water bill will be going through the roof. Set an egg timer to teach your child to quickly take care of business while in the shower; if they'd like to play, maybe it's better that they stick to baths.

Your child will likely be ready to transition from the bath to the shower anytime from late toddlerhood until the mid-elementary school years. If they're interested, and capable, make their experience a safe one, and you'll both be on your way to leaving the "baby years" bath times behind.

Content by Karen Kinsey.