My toddler loves bathtime, and he loves running around naked afterwards. But this is the trouble! He runs away from me whilst I'm trying to put his cream on, PJs on. Once we are upstairs with milk/story, he is absolutely fine. It's the 10 mins of madness between bath and bed that feels out of control! Any ideas on how to calm him in this time?

  • How old is your son? And how much total hours of sleep (nighttime plus daytime) is he getting, on average? Jan 24, 2021 at 17:33

4 Answers 4


I have a 2yo and she does something similar.

I try to minimize the opportunity for escape by closing doors and preparing everything beforehand, and then I lure her by encouraging to help me. I offer her the cream and ask her where she wants to put it on.

They're usually really interested in helping, so framing it as something fun and exciting to help with is likely to motivate them to come.

I generally avoid chasing in any kind of excited way. It makes it into a game and I want bedtime to be calming and not super excitable. Instead I will lure them over or contain them to a single room. On the really bad days I've literally closed us in the bathroom and just done the entire get dressed bit standing up in the bathroom. Or carried her directly from the bath to her bedroom.


A common reason why a child may get overly excited, run around, and otherwise misbehave is due to lack of sleep. Try monitoring the total sleep time in hours (nighttime plus daytime), compare it to the recommended sleep time, and ensure that this common root cause of many problems is eliminated.


We can watch a child’s behavior during the day closely to see if he seems excessively sleepy or cranky, but the symptoms of insufficient sleep in a young child can be very subtle. If your two-year-old sleeps only eight hours at night but seems happy and functions well during the day, it is tempting to assume he doesn’t need more sleep. But eight hours is rarely enough sleep for a two-year-old. If you can find out why he sleeps so little and make appropriate changes, he will probably sleep an hour or two longer every night. You may begin to notice an improvement in his general behavior, and only then will you be aware of the more subtle symptoms of inadequate sleep that were actually present before you adjusted his sleep schedule. Your child will probably be happier in the daytime, a bit less irritable, more able to concentrate at play, and less inclined to have tantrums, accidents, and arguments.

(p. 48)

Figure 1. Typical sleep requirements in childhood

(p. 49)

Ferber, Richard. (2006) "Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems: New, Revised, and Expanded Edition" New York, NY: Fireside: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0743201639/

  • 1
    While I agree this is true, there are additional factors here (1) you can put a child in bed, but you can't make them sleep. Even with all the best sleep hygiene practices, toddlers will STILL go through phases of fighting sleep tooth and nail. Everyone has to deal with a grumpy toddler the next day. (2) toddlers can be notoriously grumpy in the evenings anyway, and (3) even when not tired, running amok while naked is fun, especially when parents exclaim in surprise and chase you.
    – eipi
    Mar 20, 2021 at 6:14

Depending on how old said toddler is, I would try to give him some time during the weekdays to run around, to get that excess energy out.

Aside from that I recommend closing and locking the bathroom door until you’ve applied the cream or maybe grab the book and the bottle and keep it with you so that he understands its time to relax.


I don't give my toddler the opportunity to run around naked after bath time. If he does it's really cute, but usually I wrap him comfortingly in his towel, carry him to the changing table and give him a toy or toothbrush to play with while I dress him.

  • This works, with the caveat that sometime between 2 and 3, generally around when potty training is due, they will fight lying down to change with all their might and will want to be standing up the whole time. But before then it worked like a charm!
    – eipi
    Mar 18, 2021 at 20:00

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