As the end of the day draws near and it’s time to take a bath, many parents find that their kids’ anxiety becomes palpable. Bath time can be triggering for kids with sensory processing disorders or autism. Since skipping baths entirely isn’t an option, it’s important for everyone involved to find ways to make it a more sensory-friendly experience. Check out our occupational therapists’ tips below:

1. Consider the lighting

Typical bathroom lights are very harsh and bright. If your child doesn’t like the bright light, try adding on a light filter to create a dimmer environment. Alternatively, bring in a small LED lamp to provide soothing light to the bathroom.

2. Put up a visual routine

Creating a visual timeline of the steps involved in bath time can help soothe your child’s anxiety. When they know what to expect, they’ll feel more involved in the process and won’t feel surprised by any sudden changes. You can also speak out each step as you go down the list.

3. Bring in a familiar toy

Toys can make bath time an enjoyable, playful experience. Things like stacking cups or  suction toys are great options. Scoop and pour water with the cups and attach the suction toys to the sides of the bathtub. By playing with your kids in the bath, you can help ease the tension. You can also encourage your child to give their toys a bath at the same time!

4. Involve your kids in the process

Giving kids a sense of responsibility and an active role can empower them and help reduce triggers. Let them choose which soap scent they want to use. (Essential oils are also great to add to a bath!) Take turns with the loofah or washcloth. Ask them what towel they would like to use.

5. Add in extra proprioceptive input

Bath time actually has many opportunities for proprioception! Use varying amounts of pressure when scrubbing your child with soap. Rubbing them dry with a towel afterward, doing a lotion massage, and using a foam roller are all great ways to provide proprioceptive input as well.

Finding strategies that work for you and your kids is a process. Give it time and make sure to check in with your kids about what they like and how you can make things more comfortable for them during bath time. 

Do you have any tips that helped you? Share them in the comments below!