6 Essential Tips for Bathing a Baby or Toddler in the Shower

I may receive a commission for purchases made through product links on this page, but I always stand by my opinions and endorsements!

There’s no concrete age when kids and toddlers can start showering alone.

But most experts agree that somewhere around 5 or 6-years-old is when they’ll start getting close.

(That’s also about the time they might start wanting more privacy.)

You’ll have to be sure they can handle the responsibility, and really drill them on the safety rules!

But when your child is still a baby or younger toddler, they still need you to wash them. There may be times when you just can’t bathe them in a bathtub for whatever reason, so it makes sense to clean up in the shower.

How do you bathe a toddler or baby in a shower? (Without them screaming the entire time, and actually getting them clean!)

We do this sometimes in our household for convenience, even though we have a nice bathtub in our daughter’s bathroom, and here are my favorite tips:

I’ll dive in a little deeper to each one of these below.

But first…

Why and when does it make sense to bathe a kid in the shower?

The obvious answer to this question is when there’s simply not a bathtub available, and a stand-up shower stall is your only option.

This can happen a lot if you’re:

  • Camping
  • Moving into a new home pre-renovation
  • Staying with friends or relatives
  • Traveling and staying in a hotel
  • Etc.

So you might need to wash your baby or toddler in a shower simply out of necessity.

But it can also just make more sense sometimes, even when you have a bathtub available!

Showering can save time:

It takes less time to shower than it does to fill the tub, and it’s usually more efficient when you do get to washing.

Plus, if you shower together with your age-appropriate toddler, it can be a great way to shower yourself without leaving them alone while also getting them clean!

Showering uses less water:

Unless you take really long showers, showers generally use less water overall than baths (by about half!)

This could really help if you’ve got limited hot water in your home or if you’re trying to watch the water bill.

Showering is better for your skin:

Babies and toddlers can sometimes have issues with dry skin and rashes, especially in the winter.

The rapid rinsing with shower water is usually a lot better for keeping skin clean and moisturized as opposed to lounging in a bath.

Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to make showering with a toddler or baby a lot easier.

1. Mind the water temperature!

Maybe it’s just my daughter that has a bizarre love of cold water.

Or maybe it’s all of them.

But I’ve found that even when drawing baths, I need to make the water a lot cooler than I would personally like if it were me getting in it.

(She often wants to literally run the cold water for several minutes after she gets in.)

When you’re drawing a bath for a baby or toddler, you’re pretty keenly aware that you need to be careful about letting it get too hot.

In the shower, it’s easy to go on autopilot and set the water temperature to whatever you normally use.

That will probably be too hot for a toddler, and definitely too hot for a baby!

Babies need a bath temperature of around 100 degrees F, according to Nationwide Children’s. You probably don’t have a water thermometer lying around, so just stick your elbow in the water (elbow skin is more sensitive than hand skin) and make sure it feels warm but not hot.

Use a temperature that’s appropriate for your kid. If you’re showering together, it might be a little less warm than you’d like but you’re going to have to suck it up!

2. Use a baby or toddler tub designed for the shower stall

Click to see on Amazon

If your baby or toddler isn’t ready to “shower shower,” you can always turn the stand-up shower stall into a makeshift bath.

All you need is a little tub, bucket, or inflatable bathtub designed for showers.

This makes the whole process pretty simple.

Just blast the shower water directly into the little tub until it’s full and ready for your child to get in.

Then you can essentially bathe them like normal, though getting fresh water for rinsing will be a little awkward.

(You can turn the shower head on very low and hold a cup under it if you need some fresh rinsing water, or grab it from the sink.)

I’d go with an inflatable tub for the shower because they’re soft and they can be dried out, deflated, and stored away without taking up much room at all.

For babies, I’d get a relatively small shower tub. I’ve heard excellent things about the Kel-Gar Snug-Tub (check it out on Amazon, it’s the one pictured above).

For toddlers you’ll need something a little bit bigger and more sturdy like this one on Amazon that’s good for kids up to 4-years-old.

3. Shower together with toddlers to save time

This is such a helpful tip for single parents or anyone who finds themselves on their own for a while with a toddler.

Maybe you’re dying to shower, but you feel like you can’t leave the kid alone for very long.

So what do you do?

Bring them into the shower with you!

There are all kinds of benefits to this:

  • You get to shower and keep an eye on them at the same time
  • They think it’s fun
  • They get clean and won’t need a bath later

Important note: You have to decide for yourself how you feel about age and gender appropriateness of this. My wife showers with our daughter all the time, though I don’t feel comfortable doing it myself at this stage and even less so as she gets older. But for very young children, go for it.

4. Keep the water and soap out of their eyes by any means necessary

One unique problem of bathing a toddler in the shower is the tendency for the water to blast them in the face, or cause soap to run into their eyes.

In my experience, they HATE this.

(For babies, I would probably just avoid having the shower head on at all and stick to bathing them in a tub meant for the stand-up shower stall.)

One good way to keep the water out of their eyes is to have them stand back a little bit from the main shower spray.

If you’re showering together, you can shield them from most of it by standing in front of them.

For slightly older toddlers who are brave, you could verbally coach them through showering themselves if you don’t feel like getting wet!

(Good shower form is with your back facing the shower, I don’t care what anyone says.)

Another pretty cool idea to use a shower visor for younger kids (link will take you over to see one on Amazon), which keeps water and soap from getting into their eyes.

5. Toys, toys, toys

Click to see on Amazon

Just because your toddler is showering like an adult doesn’t mean they don’t still need to be entertained.

I like to drift off and daydream in the shower, personally, but for kids… bathtime means playtime.

So bring some of their favorite bath toys into the shower!

Things like boats and pull-string fish and mermaids won’t work because they won’t be able to float, but things you stick on the bath or shower wall are PERFECT for this.

In my house, we’ve gotten endless use out of bathtub letters and numbers (Amazon link). Our daughter loves to play with these in the shower.

If you have a glass-wall shower, in particular, you’re going to want some toys like this that you can keep in a container or net-bag nearby.

Having some toys and entertainment options will really help during joint-showers while you’re washing yourself and want to keep the kiddo busy.

6. Get them a special fun shower head

If you’re getting ready to transition your toddler into regular showers and they have a bathroom that’s mostly theirs, I think it’s a great idea to make the shower really feel like their own.

Just a quick search on Amazon and you’ll find tons of fun shower head attachments for kids.

They can serve a couple of different purposes:

  • They’re fun, colorful, and get kids excited
  • Some models can reduce the water pressure for kids
  • They bring the shower spray down to a kid-friendly level

Check out this adorable elephant shower head for a kid’s bathroom (Amazon link).

What toddler wouldn’t love that?

Wrapping Up

Bathing your baby or toddler in a shower is perfectly do-able and perfectly safe, with good supervision and a little planning.

If your child is very young and not able to stand in the shower on his or her own, all you really need to do is get an inflatable bathtub you can put in the shower stall. When you’re not using it, just deflate it, dry it out, and put it away!

(These are also great for traveling and won’t take up much room in your suitcase.)

Toddlers can shower by themselves when they’re around 6 or so, but you can still help them get clean in the shower when they’re younger than that.

Just watch out for the water temperature getting too hot and soap getting in their eyes!

When it’s time for them to start showering on their own, it’s really cool if you can make the bathroom feel like their own with a special shower head, monogrammed towel, or whatever else you think might get them excited.

Hope these tips have helped. Good luck, parents!