How to use Speech Therapy Strategies during Bath Time Routines

speech therapy strategies

Bath time! As a parent, your day is long. Your to-do list is endless. It can be overwhelming to try to squeeze in more “stuff.” Thankfully, speech therapy strategies can be easily used during your daily routines with your child. It makes it easily to do your speech “homework” when it’s part of your day already.

I talked about targeting language during play in this post here. In this post here, I talked about what books are good for children and strategies for using them. Now I’m going to talk about how to work in speech therapy strategies during a typical bath time routine.

There are many different goals you can easily work into your bath time routine. This is also a great place to play with bubbles. I talked about what to do with bubbles in this post here.

1. Requesting

This one takes some initial thinking to have set up for your routine. If possible, try to have two of things, so that you can give your child choices. Once it’s there in the bathroom, you are always set to work on this goal. Two different shampoos, two different soaps, two different washcloths, two different towels, and a bunch of different toys. Then your child has multiple chances to request what they want.

The parent says something like “Do you want the blue soap or the pink.” The child can start by requesting with a gesture or point, and you can work toward using a word (i.e., “blue”). Finally you can work on a phrase or full sentence (i.e., “blue soap” or “I want the blue one”).

2. Following directions

This goal is simple at add since your are already giving directions constantly. The difference I want to suggest is a subtle change in how you give the direction depending on your child’s needs.

  • Keep the directions short (i.e. Get in the tub. Wash your hair.)
  • Use one step directions until you move to two step directions.
  • Be face to face if possible
  • Wait and give your child time

If your child does not follow direction, then you can repeat or hand-over-hand help your child complete the direction. If it turns into a power struggle, then move on. It’s important for routines to be fun!

3. Vocabulary

Bath time has so many opportunities to add vocabulary and basic concepts. There are lots of nouns you can work on in the bathroom like water, towels, toothbrush, and soap. Once your child has a good set of nouns, it’s important to focus on verbs like in, out, splash, dry, wash, and clean. You can use adjective like colors of different toys, hot/cold and wet/dry to further expand your child’s vocabulary. Don’t forget spatial concepts like in, out, under, and behind.

Self talk and parallel talk are great strategies for vocabulary. Self talk is when you talk about what you are doing (i.e., I am getting the shampoo). Parallel talk is when you talk about what your child is doing (i.e., you are washing your hair). These strategies reduce the temptation to constantly ask questions or put language demands on your child which can be frustrating for both of you.

4. Early Sequencing / “What” Questions

Bath time happens often… well… often enough. It’s a great routine to work on early sequencing skills. You can talk about what happens during the routine (i.e., first we get in the tub, then we wash, last we get out of the tub). Once the child understands the routine, you can ask them to tell you what comes next (i.e., we are in the tub, what do we do next?).

5. Bath Time Books

I love reading, and bath time is a great time to read and look at reading differently. Some books that talk about bath time can help reinforce the new vocabulary you are working on. The bath-proof books I like the best are ones like below.

If it stresses you out to think of reading a book in the tub, you can always save that activity for the bed time routine.

The above five goals are just a few simple ways to use a daily routine like bath time to help your child’s language skills. The more often you do it, the easier it will be to tweak the routine to help your child’s language skills develop.

Can you think of any other ideas that may work during bath time?

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