Teaching a child to groom

Bathing, cleaning, and generally caring for your child come with many special moments. Many grooming routines are wonderful bonding opportunities for parent and child, but you’re not going to be brushing Baby‘s hair for the rest of his life. Soon, it will be time to take some small steps toward teaching Baby how to groom themselves.


Children with short hair have pretty low-maintenance routines, so it shouldn’t be too hard for them to take control here. Baby just needs to learn to wash his hair, rinse out the soap, and run a brush through it.

If he has longer hair, it might be more prone to tangling. Combing can sometimes be a little painful, and preventing knots is a lot easier than picking them out. Start teaching Baby how to keep hair tangle-free by explaining what you’re doing while brushing or combing his hair. “See how I start at the ends of your hair to work out the knots?”


Brusha, brusha, brusha. Sometimes, children just don’t see the value in brushing their teeth. They’re also prone to insisting that they’ve brushed them, even when presented with a totally dry toothbrush. Don’t worry, it won’t last forever.

If Baby never wants to brush his teeth or have them brushed, it could be because he doesn&;t like the flavor of the toothpaste. Try out a couple different options to see what he likes best, and maybe let him pick out her own toothbrush at the store. Letting Elmo in on the toothbrushing fun can make a big difference. Then brush your teeth at the same time as Baby, letting him know that he is brushing his teeth just like a grown-up!


It might be hard to think about right now, but eventually, baths are going to be just Baby and his rubber ducky. Or battleship, dinosaur, toy stolen from the dog…whatever. To prepare him for that day, you can start organizing the bathroom in a way that will make it easy for him to bathe solo.

Keep Baby‘s soap and shampoo in a special place in the bathroom that’s easy for him to reach, and keep a towel within reach of the bathtub. You can also start putting him in charge of little parts of the bathing process, like getting the water to the right temperature or drying all the way off. Once he has mastered one step, add another on until he is a bath or shower expert.

Remember that regardless of the skill Baby demonstrates while bathing, you shouldn’t leave any child under 6 alone in the bathroom.              

The bottom line

These skills aren’t going to be perfect right away – some people don’t really hit their self-grooming stride until their 20s. Toddlers are often very interested in doing things themselves, so Baby might be really happy to take on some grooming responsibility. And no matter how good he gets at grooming themselves, don’t worry – he will always be your baby.

  • “Bathroom safety – children.” Medline Plus. U.S. National Library of Medicine. November 20, 2014. Web.

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