A Toddler-Sized Bathroom

Wednesday February 24, 2016

Soon after Bean could walk, Dave and I started thinking about how to bring the world (and her things) down closer to her. We wanted to follow the Montessori philosophy of creating an environment to encourage independence and confidence. We started in the bathroom.

Bean was in love with this setup from the start, from around 16 months. She was ecstatic to have access to her brush, right there for her to hold and use to brush her hair as she looked in the mirror. She was obsessed with the little drawer. At 3, she uses all of her bathroom supplies confidently, knows where things go and actually puts them back, and insists (INSISTS!) on doing everything herself (when she’s not being a threenager, in which case all bets are off). (Her curly hair turned out to be too complicated, so she mostly leaves the combing to us these days.)

I love that she has everything she needs, right there. A place for her comb, hair clips and ties, toothbrush and toothpaste. A tumbler for rinsing after she brushes. The drawer holds all of her headbands. The low mirror makes it easy for her to see herself. The low towel hook means that she can easily dry her hands and put her towel back after a bath. A basket of books for potty reading.

When she’s sick, I’ll add some tissues to encourage her to wipe her own nose and toss out the tissue. If she insists that she doesn’t need to wipe her nose, I’ll ask her to look in her mirror at her runny nose. She usually decides that, yes, maybe she does need to wipe her nose afterall.

The small table is from Overstock, with a slight hack to make it toddler-height. For the low mirror, I first used a plastic mirror screwed to the wall before she was 2. I upgraded to this real glass mirror once I felt she could be responsible with it. (The real glass makes a huge difference in clarity, which affects her natural use of it.) She picked out the drawer pull and hook from Anthropologie.

Children’s bathroom accessories are tricky — I felt a little pinned between choosing things that were breakable/ceramic or plastic. As much as I think having vases and real glassware work in the rest of the apartment, images of glass/ceramic shattering in the bathroom, with all those baby bare toes nearby, made me draw a line. I eventually realized heavy stone could work, with none of the drawbacks of ceramic or plastic. So, when she was 1, I used heavy materials like marble and cement, which were too heavy for her to pick up (marble tumbler is from CB2). As she grew older and more responsible, I let her pick out a delicate ceramic soap dish from Anthropologie to hold her comb and hair clips/ties.

Even though our apartment is small, finding space for a toddler-sized bathroom vanity was important to us. Bean has had the confidence that this is her place in the bathroom, from as far back as she can remember. With all her things within easy reach, I think it’s made all of our lives easier, at least in terms of minimizing toddler and preschooler battles.

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