Table Of Contents
1. Your Toddler Drinks Soapy Bathwater: Is It Dangerous & What Should You Do?
• 1.1 Is it dangerous for toddlers to drink bath water?
• 1.2 Can toddlers get sick from drinking bath water?
• 1.3 What do you do if your toddler drinks bath water?
• 1.4 How do you stop them from wanting to drink their bath water?
2. In Conclusion
Your Toddler Drinks Soapy Bathwater: Is It Dangerous & What Should You Do?
From nose picking to eating dirt, anyone who has a toddler can tell you—they do some gross things. As little ones learn and explore their environment, they’re certainly not always aware of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Often, the stronger an adult reacts to something, the more a toddler will want to keep doing it. So, if your toddler drinks soapy bathwater, should you be worried? And how do you get them to stop? We address some of your questions and concerns below.
Is It Dangerous If Your Toddler Drank Soapy Bathwater?
While it’s not desirable for children to drink bathwater, the amount of soap that is usually diluted into a large amount of water in the bathtub is probably not enough to cause a medical emergency, even in a bubble bath. Sometimes there will be urine in the bathwater, however, urine is a sterile substance. Though it seems disgusting, swallowing a little bit of diluted urine doesn’t pose a huge risk. If there is stool in the bathwater, this could pose a health hazard. Most parents, however, usually drain the bath immediately, clean the tub, and then re-bathe the child, so the chances of a toddler swallowing bacteria/feces-laden water are highly unlikely.
Can Toddlers Get Sick from Drinking Bathwater?
What To Do If Your Toddlers Drinks Soapy Bathwater?
First and foremost, don’t panic. As we stated, this is not a medical emergency. When parents panic, yell or scream, children do the same. They may inadvertently swallow more water if they get scared. They may remember that this is a way to get mommy or daddy riled up and repeat the same behavior to push buttons next time they’re in the bath. So the best thing parents can do is calmly redirect. Re-engage them with different bath toys or activities that take their attention away from swallowing water and maybe use toys that don’t accumulate water (so avoid cups and scoops, for example). Tell them gently but firmly, “We don’t drink the water in our bathtub.”
Parents will have to reinforce this message on a few different occasions to help ingrain it in their toddler’s mind. As always, parents should be vigilant and engaged with the child as they are bathing. This not only prevents them from accidentally drinking the water, but also from choking on water or worse yet, drowning in it. Most importantly, bathtime can continue to the end without disruption. As we noted above, a sip or a few drops of soapy water that may have diluted urine or soap in it is not going to be harmful to the child’s health.
What If Your Toddler Won’t Stop Drinking Bath Water?
While drinking bath water probably won’t put your child in any serious danger, it is still not an ideal habit. If it bothers you and you want to prevent the behavior, this will come down to knowing your child’s personality—just like everything else in parenting. There are some children who act out or push buttons. As we discussed, yelling at them or punishing them for this behavior might not lead to the desired result. It may instead backfire into repeated attempts to act in that manner. In these situations, it is helpful to redirect their attention and energy toward another desirable activity that is more rewarding or enjoyable. I call this shifting the focus.
Children thrive on the one-on-one attention of their parents. Bathtime is a great time to bond with your toddler and give them the focus they’ve been vying for all day. They’ll drop misbehavior in an instant if they can get your undivided attention. One option to try is to make up a game that they play with you when they’re in the water. Toddlers love to mimic what they see. If your child has a doll in the bathtub and you have a doll sitting outside the bathtub, both of you can brush your doll’s hair, help bathe the doll, make her go to sleep, etc. You & your toddler could also do something similar with a car or truck if they prefer. If the parent is revving up the car and making it roll outside the bathtub, the child would likely find it fun to mimic that play inside the bathtub as well.
There are lots of other ways to entertain your child during bath time so they’ll enjoy the time spent with their parents and redirect their attention from an undesirable activity like drinking the bath water. Here are some more creative bath time ideas you can explore if your toddler won’t stop drinking bath water:
Glow Stick Bath
Identify Body Parts
Play “I Spy”
These are available to purchase or could be sewn, and can let washing become a fun game that could turn into a puppet show at the end.
In case your toddler won’t stop drinking bath water, reinforce that this water is for bath time and not for drinking. If the child is thirsty, a parent might offer a cup or bottle of water for them to drink while they’re sitting in the bathtub. A parent might highlight the fact that this water doesn’t taste as good as other water they could get after their bath. A parent could then offer water infused with the sweetness of fruits as an incentive for not drinking the bathwater.
Bottom line, a defiant toddler is simply pushing their boundaries to try and establish what is and is not acceptable. Consistent signals on the part of the parent to accept certain behaviors and not others will eventually settle into the toddler’s mind as right and wrong. This might happen sooner if the “right” behaviors are followed by praise, attention, or a reward such as fruit infused water.
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Children are just exploring their environment at this age. I bet you agree that when a toddler drinks soapy bathwater, they don’t know that drinking the bathwater is not good for them. As adults, we sometimes forget that what we know as common knowledge is not a part of our toddler’s knowledge base at all yet. We have to reduce our expectations for them to know right from wrong. These are moments where we have to appreciate their innocence and continue reinforcing desired behaviors repeatedly so they can make it a part of their own inherent understanding of right and wrong as well. When many of us think back to our childhood, we had to explore our environment to learn that something was good or bad. Instead of panicking over the behavior, take the opportunity to turn bath time into a fun time to connect with your child. Thankfully, a sip of soapy water is not hazardous to our toddlers’ health and hopefully tastes bad enough that they won’t want to do it again.