My babies love to bathe and shower. Every week we experience this drama when someone (usually a toddler) refuses to get out of the bath. At work, a coworker said she had the same problem! “I lure him out with the iPad to play favorite game, and I tell him that the later he leaves the shower, the shorter time to play on the iPad.”
The first thing we always try is: Let your toddler lengthen his bath or shower (supervised, of course) for another few minutes. Maybe this is all he or she wants.
Now you drained all the water from the bathtub and your toddler still refuses to get out. Or you turned off the shower. You can turn on the bathroom heat on and/or shower dribble warm water while toddler is squatting, sitting or standing in the tub, protesting.
Show and offer a cute PJ (for example, his favorite dinosaur sweatshirt), saying “if you come out soon you get to wear this pajama or sweatshirt”! Toddlers love to make decisions. Choosing a sweat shirt or pajama top may satisfy that urge.
Food, our babysitter says, is the only thing that works for her nephews (both less than 5 years old). Bribe the toddler with a cookie or a snack (can brush his teeth after). I have shown a box of cookies from the bathroom doorway and sometimes this works. One solution is bathing your kid before dinnertime, so he or she will be hungry enough to finish the bath to go eat dinner. But you run the risk of a messy meal or your toddler may poo after dinner.
Show your phone with a favorite video, urging your toddler to get dried and dressed. You can serenade your toddler by moving the phone (playing the video) back, luring him or her out, until you are able to place a diaper and clothes on.
Pretend to leave: Turn off the bathroom light then turn it back and wave goodbye, pretending that you are leaving…then the toddler may think she or he is being left behind and will signal that she or he wants to come out now.
“A timer in the bathroom for each bath or shower, “says one father of 2 little ones. “I set the timer to 10-15 minutes and will stop the water. They can dry and wipe off the soap with a towel and be itchy all night.” He means it when he sets the bathing time limit. Now they stay within the time limit for bathing.
Play siren sounds: Our toddlers love rescue vehicle sirens. Hearing siren sounds rushes them to get dried and dressed to run out to the living room window to see the ambulance or firetruck go by (although it was your phone so he would miss it). But at least now he is warm and dressed.
After reading this post, two dads told me that they “freeze their kid out” as they simply turn off the water (and refuse to turn it back on). “My kid will get cold and he will let me wrap him in a large towel then dress him,” says one dad. Their toddlers would get out of the tub as “it is cold”…simple, but effective.