Aversion to the Bath & Shower
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Aversion to the Bath & Shower
Up until 2 weeks ago. my one year old girl LOVED the bath.
For the past several months she has been using a bath
seat in the big tub and she is safe and secure in it. She has
enjoyed the bath since she was born.
All of sudden, she doesn't want to get in the tub, and clings
to me, keeping her feet up and away from the water. I tried
putting a little water on her feet, showing her the fun toys,
making sure it wasn't too warm, putting her in without the
seat, then with the seat and none of that has reminded her
she actually used to like it. The nanny told me she had the
same thing happen, and she isn't pressuring her either
although she did get her in by distracting her with the toys.
She just doesn't want to get in and I don't want to pressure
her b/c I don't want her to be scared. So, finally this last
time I just got into the tub and put her on my lap. She didn't
cry and was fine that way, and eventually sat on her bottom
and even let me float her--but didn't want me to get her head
wet, so I didn't this time.
Any advice on how to get her back to loving the bath--I can't
go in with her every time and eventually she will need her
hair washed. Thanks!
Blow bubbles. We got our daughter over a 'no bath' hump by
blowing bubbles. For shampooing, we call it funny hair, pull
out a mirror, point and laugh, make shampoo horns and shapes of
all kinds. Even so around 28 mos, she started resisting. So we
just wash like once a week now. Then suddenly she asked
for 'funny hair' out of the blue. Also we really like the blow
up tubs. Our now 32 mo. old is still in a toddler inflatable
tub in the big tub. saves water too!
rub a dub
I don't have any advice, but the same thing happened to my
daughter. From age 13-18 months, more or less, she did not like
the bath at all. Then she went back into loving it.
During this time we bathed her seldom (once a week or so),
quickly and often had her take showers with us (she was more
willing to do that).
My daughter went through bath stages, and had a period around
1yr where she didn't want to get in the tub. I have a small
inflatable tub for her, which fits in the big tub, is very
stable & comfortable & cozy (and costs about $5). When she was
getting fussy a! bout it, I'd fill it w/ bubble bath and splash
the bubble s& show her hwo much fun the bububles were, play with
washcloths (peekaboo, seal diving, etc). & try to warm her up
with it. I've also tried to give her ways to tell me if the
water is too hot or is in her eyes, and I always close the door
so the room is warm enough. If that didn't work, I'd be as
gentle but firm as possible, and very quick to minimize the
crying. She likes the bath now. Which may change again.
I made a huge mistake. My currious son seemed to want to know
about the shower looming overhead while he took a bath. On the
well intentioned advise of my brother, I introduced my 13 month
old to the shower. With the nozzle down low - at his level but
directed away from him - I turned on the shower while my little
guy was taking a bath. What a HUGE mistake. The water was warm
but not hot, so I know it wasn't the temperature. Panic struck,
he backed himself to the farthest corner of the tub. So I turned
off the shower and replaced it to it's normal spot. He just
wanted OUT! 'IT' was still up there. I even tried to move the
shower head to outside the tub, but there's still something UP
there. And 'IT' is still around somewhere. Now everytime he
takes a bath (our only tub in the house) he'll get into the tub,
but eventually looks up. Then the panic starts again. My once
bath loving child is now begging to get out.
Hoping to eleviate his fear of the shower monster, two days ago I
tried taking a shower while holding my son. No luck. Now 'IT'
was REALLY close and just too scary. We've bathed together and
that seems to work for HIM. But not for me. It's inconventient
and darn cold. I'm just too tall to sit in the tub comfortably.
I'm wondering if anyone has had a similar problem. What did you
do to reasure your child? Any suggestions?
My son was similarly frightened by the shower head. What
seemed to have the most positive impact was the outdoor
shower at swimming pools. For some reason (other kids
do it? looked like fun? not naked?), these showers were not
nearly as scary to him and were soon downright fun. Home
baths were immediately easier.
My daughter went through the same thing a year ago, at age 2
1/2. To get her back in the tub, I sat with her on my lap far
away from the tub, while my husband operated the shower. We
made it very clear to her that it could not go on while she was
in the tub unless someone pulled up on the lever. After a few
demonstrations she was willing to get into the tub, but she
still talked about the shower for several months. And she still
will not take a shower, although she has recently become
interested in watching me take a shower, so she may be coming
around. Good luck!
I could have posted your message when my son was that age, and
in fact, I think I probably did. It was the same scenario,
except in our case he pulled the shower lever on himself while
the tub was running, and was rewarded with an unexpected
drenching. He's never been a kid who liked getting his head wet
(hairwashing is still something he has to steel himself for) so
this was a terrible insult.
We tried everything that I'm sure will be suggested in response
to your post: fun bath toys, music in the bathroom, getting in
the tub with him, playing in the bath with no water in it,
letting him hold the shower nozzle, etc. None was a magic
bullet. It took months of patience to get him comfortable in the
tub again, and I remember how sad I was because bathtime had
always been one of his favorite activities, and mine too. It is
again now, so there is hope.
Here are the things that I think were the most helpful:
- getting the spray nozzle out of the tub. Ours is one that can
be hand-held if you lift it off its holder, and we always let it
dangle outside the tub during bath time so he didn't look up at
it and freak.
- bathing with him -- which I always liked anyway
- persistence. For a while we followed his lead and didn't force
the issue, giving baths just once or twice a week and going
weeks without a hair wash. Didn't work -- it just gave him more
opportunity to cultivate his bath phobia. What ended up working
was doing the opposite. We insisted on nightly baths, even
though they were accompanied by a lot of screaming and crying at
first. I kept them quick, tried to make them fun, talked about
how he felt before and afterwards ...that I knew it was scary
for him but that he had to get clean and he was going to be
I can't remember now how long it took before he just got used to
the bath again, and stopped worrying, but it happened. We did
have one relapse when I got lax about putting the spray nozzle
out of the tub and he pulled the shower on again, but it just
took a few days to get him comfortable again. He still doesn't
like the shower, but he'll happily play in the tub for an hour
or more, with or without me in it.
Maybe if you and your son could regularly ''visit'' someone while
they were taking a shower. Your son could then see that the
shower was not scary to the showeree while still getting to keep
a safe distance. My daughter never had the shower-head
aversion, but I remember my little brother having it, big
screaming fits, and the rest of the family just made a big deal
of getting to take a shower (talking about it at the dinner
table, discussing how nice it felt when we got out, using the
special ''shower toys'' etc.) until his curiosity was up.
The ''big kid'' thing was encouraging, too, since he had two older
siblings. He was about two at the time. Good luck!
Perhaps try showing your child that he can play with the fun
shower hose? Stand outside the tub and Spray it around with him
and be silly. My daughter is scared of the shower over her head
but loves playing with hose (even spraying it over her own head)
if it is the context of play. If that doesn't work, maybe hang
something friendly like a toy on the nozzle? Maybe when he looks
up and sees a toy he won't be so scared?
more shower to you......
Here is an idea you might try that worked for my daughter when
she was little. We had the showerhead ''talk'' to her when she was
in the tub. Mr. Showerhead would talk to her (in my voice down
an octive) about her day, if she had remembered to wash behind
her ears, if she liked the color blue, etc. She came to look
forward to bathtime so that she could talk to Mr Showerhead. Good
14-month-old is afraid of the bath
RE: fear of water
My 14 month old daughter, Alisdair, has just begun this
same "bathing tantrum" pattern as well. Our temporary
solution has been to put her in a small plastic tub, and
sponge bathe her while her older sister, Ariel age 6, is in
the bathtub playing/cleaning nearby. However, this is
a very difficult way to properly clean her hair.
Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated, as our
daughter used to love baths until last month. I believe
the "hair washing" is the issue but I am sad she no longer
enjoys splashing and playing in the water.
Is this a phase, how long does it last?
You may want to bathe with her. We did that with our son when we first
adopted him. He wasn't real happy with bathing so we tried to make it as
much fun as possible. We also didn't insist he take one every day--just a
couple of times a week. But the security/safety of having another person in
the tub with him allowed him to relax enough to start having fun. Sliding
down our legs, splashing games, toys, singing--anything to distract from any
previous unpleasantness. Now at age 7 he sings and plays and really enjoys
his baths and showers.
Sounds like your daughter has a fear to overcome before bathing will be enjoyable.
Here are some tricks I used with both of my boys that maybe you haven't
tried. Bring a cassette player with the music she likes into the bathroom.
Give her a different water toy to play with each time, use plastic utensils
from the kitchen or blow bubbles, do something unpredictable to get her
attention away from the bath. Maybe having a toy doll that she can bathe
would make her feel more comfortable. Also try using a small plastic "baby"
tub inside the bathtub to help her feel secure and fill it water before she
gets in. I think my son was afraid of the water coming into the tub and it
seemed to help when I stopped running it in front of him. He was also
really afraid of the water going down the drain! The temperature of the
water is also important. My younger son still insists the water is too hot
even when lukewarm so that could be an issue. He also hated having his hair
washed and fussed every time until last year when he started taking showers
(and he is six!).
These days we laugh because the boys never want to get in the bath but once
they are in we can't get them out! Hopefully Ellie will learn to enjoy a
good bath and you will be begging her to get out. Best of luck...Sharon
16-month-old is terrified of the bath
My 16-month-old will not let us bathe her and she seems terrified of
the water. Any ideas? Clay
To Clay, whose 16 month old has become terrified of taking a bath: I've
heard that there are developmental phases where a child becomes more (or
less) afraid of water. My daughter totally loved the bath until about 12
months, and then became very afraid of it for several months. Eventually
she simply outgrew her fear ... it lessend about 16 months and then
vanished at about 20 months. However, in the meantime while she was so
frightened, I just took my baths WITH her. As long as we were in the tub
together and she could literally hold onto my hand or knee at all times,
she was fine. Now she is happy to take a bath by herself (with me sitting
right there, of course) although she STILL hates to have her hair washed.
I've had her "wash" my hair (I wash, she rinses) ... she pour cup after cup
after cup of water over me while I mock-complain and say "all done!" and
she laughs ... reverse role playing to give her some sense of control.
Helped *just a little* but every little bit is something.
Good luck. -- Mary Carol
Re: toddler afraid of bath. What if you tried taking a bath with your
daughter, with her actually sitting on your lap, at least part of the
time? This, coupled with some new bath toys, might get her over her
fear. Another idea is taking her swimming. The YMCA in downtown Berkeley
has "water acclimation" classes for that age group which I did with my
son and which he really loved.
Clay, has your wife/s.o. tried getting in the tub with her? Maybe
take some toys and play in the water for a while, get her used to
being in there again, then after a while move on to a quick bathing.
My son didn't care for the bathtub much, but we've helped him adjust
to baths by doing this sometimes, and letting he see that we bathe
too. He really didn't like water on his face (and still doesn't). So
when we play I'll let him splash and dump as much water over my head
as he wants, while I laugh. Then occasionally I'll pour some water on
him. He hated this at first, but quickly learned that it wasn't the
end of the world; after all he could do it to dad and nothing tragic
was happening, plus "dad and I are having fun, mom is laughing, and I
don't have to go to bed yet". :-) Keeping the bathing as short as
possible has helped too, now he'll even lean back under the faucet so
we can shampoo his hair. Just some thoughts to consider.
18-month-old is afraid of the bath
My 18-month-old daughter is in another "I hate/am afraid of the bath"
and scream/cries if put into her bath. Previously successful methods of
getting her to like it again have now failed for the first time. Last night
I got in the bathtub and invited her in with me and that failed as well. This
was a method that was recommended in the past by many, but which we never
needed to use as my husband's method had worked. Now I am at my wit's end and
don't know what to do. I am not sure why she may be scared of the bath. She
didn't fall in it or anything. One thing that we were wondering is that she
does associate taking a bath with going to bed and she is not particularly
into going to bed right now, either, so there may be a connection there.
I would appreciate any advice you may have.
this sounds bizzare, but a book i was reading on child development
suggests that for toddlers it's not uncommon to develop a fear of being
sucked down the drain. it's worth checking the book out anyway for a baby
and toddler's view of development. it's helpful, humorous and easy reading.
She talks about common developmental struggles and development in general in
children 0-6 years. it was written in 1959, however, so the expectation
about women's roles is dated. it's a classic so should be easy to find:
The Magic Years: Understanding and Handling the Problems of Early
Childhood by Selma H. Fraiberg
"....from these isolated and seemingly not very important events we can
draw a conclusion that seems preposterous to an adult. Nancy's avoidance of
the bath which follows her observation of the disapperance fo water down the
bath drain and her observation that objects disapper down the toilet, suggest
that Nancy is afraid that she, too could disappear down a drain. The
grown-up, even an older child, will dismiss this as nonsense. We know that a
child cannot go down that little hole. We have a concept of relative size.
Nancy at 21 months does not know this. She will need to carry on a series of
experiements for a long time before she acquires knowledge of the amount of
space which her body occupies..."
The author suggests being especially gentle and reasuring, make the bath
pleasant and encourage her to play in the tub. May be easier she says, for
a time to allow the water to remain in the tub while the child is in the bath
and even for a while after she is out of the tub. Give the child
oppourtunities for water play that the child can control. (ie wash toys in a
water bsin where she can manipulate the drain and let the water in and out
and see what happens.). Find opportunities to demonstarte to her and let her
find out about the relationship of her body and size to other objects.
If you try any of this, I'd be curious to hear how it turns out. It was
interesting reading, but who knows...
Hope some of this helps.
When I read the description of the common childhood fear of getting sucked
down the drain, I was reminded of a song that Mr. Rogers (is he still on
TV?) used to sing. It was called, "You Can Never Go Down the Drain." I
loved this song as a kid--had it on a record--and played and sang it all
the time. I was never afraid of being sucked down, and maybe it's because
the song prevented it. Anyway, the words were so cute, something like:
"You can never go down, you can never go down, you can never go down the
drain. You're bigger than the water, you're bigger than the soap. You're
bigger than all those little things, you're bigger than your telescope..."
Maybe this song is still available somewhere?
Try bathing her less often? Kids just don't get as dirty (at least in the
same ways!) as adults do. I find my daughter has always done just fine
with a bath no more often than 1 time/week. I usually just bathe her when
her hair needs to be washed, or when she has just covered herself in
yogurt! :^) Maybe if, as you suggested, she is associating bath with bed,
separating these two activities will help.
My son began to fear baths after one of his sisters helpfully rinsed his
hair by pouring buckets (toy buckets) of water over his head repeatedly
and just overwhelming him. He would not take baths for the longest time.
I bought a detachable shower head (with hose) and would just stand him
in the tub, wet him, soap him, rinse him off and voila! No problem. It
takes about 5 minutes. It was easier to rinse his hair and even when he
returned to taking baths I would rinse him with the shower head to take
off any soap that might remain on his body from the bath water. Later,
when he was older and in a hurry he'd take his own "modified" shower
instead of a bath. Now he has moved on to showers entirely which he
takes all by himself since he was 6.
Well, we went through our ups and downs with baths too, although they
was never a fear associated with it. My suggestion is to keep baths
short and entertaining. When my toddler's resistance was high,
despite a nice variety of bath toys, I picked up a tip from this list
and bought her a cabbage bathdoll. And that worked like a miracle for
a few weeks, because the doll could only be played with at bathtime
and otherwise lived in the towel closet (to make the attraction last
longer). So, if you instructed your daughter to wash the doll's hair
and give her a little bucket, she might put aside her disgust of lose
hair - because she has a task to attend to. By the time the
attraction fades, the original rejection might not be that strong
anymore. Worked for us. However, once we had to deal with a whole
month of my daughter not wanting to sit down in the tub at all. I
don't know when and why this changed, I think she eventually got tired
of having bedtime books subtracted and we compromised somewhere,
because she really hated to sit while having her hair washed. (Note:
My husband and I always bathe her together. You need four hands to
ensure safety for that kind of compromise). Somehow she outgrew that
phase too and we figured out that she would enjoy a deeper bath that
covers her body completely - as she now enjoys lying in the tub
"mommy, I'm a fish." We also use a portable heater to heat up the
bathroom ahead of time. Baths have become pure pleasure again. I
guess what I'm trying to say is that even bathtime struggles are just
a phase with a beginning and an end and you'll navigate your family
through it just like with any other issues.
You might check out the children's book Angelo, The Naughty One
about a boy who's terrified of water but by the end of the
story becomes Angelo, The Brave One.
My son has refused to take a bath for the past month or so. We
bathe him on a towel every night with a wash cloth in the
bedroom. He initially got frightened because some water from the
shower head dripped on his head while he was taking a bath. Then
a few days later the toilet was clogged and he saw (clear) water
approach the rim of the bowl. We were probably acting alarmed
when this happened, but it seems to have really scared him. When
I ask him why he won't take a bath, he says it is because of the
I tried covering the toilet with a towel and taking the plunger
outside, but he must have been worried about it all night,
because he insisted on finding it first thing the next morning.
We read books about bathing, I made bathtub paints for him to
play with in the tub, he took one bath with daddy since the CLOG
(he won't do it again), we tried bubbles, we tried talking about
it. How can we get him to take baths again?
I can totally relate to what you are going through. My son
became terrified of the bathtub right about the same time as
yours. What set him off was washing his hair. Some of the
water ran down his face and over his nose by accident. Anyway,
like you we tried everything and finaly gave up traditional
baths. I couldn't handle the screaming and crying at the mere
turning on of the water. My Dr. said that at about 18 mo. they
become aware that the water can block their breathing and some
kids respond this way. She said it was really common.
What worked for us was to introduce water play outside the
bathroom (with a water table in the yard). He LOVED this.
Eventually we began to water play in the bathroom sink. Then
one day, I tossed the toys from the sink into the tub. He got
in. I turned on the water with just a trickle. When he didn't
cry, I put in the stopper - and before he knew it, he was
taking a shallow bath. He had so much fun he took 2 baths that
But I have to say that the whole process took about 6 months.
During that time I sponge bathed him on the diaper station.
Then I would wash his hair once a week while he was in the high
chair by spritzing his hair wet, then a very light shampoo,
using a small cup to rinse the soap out (I would lay a towel
down around his shoulders. Of course he still cried but not
nearly as much as when he was in the tub).
I read my son bathing books, too. I would suggest you continue
doing this even though the results aren't immediate. Give the
positive message time to sink in. Besides, It's about a year
since he has been back in the tub and he still likes those
books - 'Does and Elephant Take a Bath?' is one of his
My 20-month-old son has always had an extraordinary, intense
fear of bathing. I looked in the archives, but all the posts
about bath fear were situations so much milder that the advice
doesn't help me. They were all about a ''phase'' of bath fear in a
kid who had been fine --- my child has always, always responded
to bathing as though we were about to flay him alive. (I did
recently find one photograph from when he was tiny of the two of
us in the bath together, but I think I remember that moment: he
had momentarily exhausted himself from screaming, so we
thought ''quick - take a picture!'') The suggestions offered -
bathe with him; try the shower instead, get fun bath toys, make
the water cooler - we've tried all that.
It's not skin sensitivity - he loves to be tickled and touched.
He's not at all a fearful child -- comfortable in crowds, happy
to be babysat, in general really brave and cheerful and open to
new experiences. Nothing really bad has ever happened to him.
It's not even really the water, I think - he likes to help me
water the garden with a hose, and fill up a little bucket, and
if as part of that experience he accidentally splashes himself,
even on the head, he laughs and does it again. Is there a word
for a phobia about bathtubs?
His doctor says that so long as his skin seems healthy and he
doesn't smell bad, just don't bathe him! So, fine, we don't...
but then once every three or four weeks he gets jam in his hair,
like he did this morning, and we really have no choice. We do
it as quick as we can, with a hand-held shower head, and he
clings to my body with all four limbs and screams and trembles
and begs to be released (one shaking hand does the sign language
for ''all done'' while he sobs into my shoulder...)
So I'm wondering if there's anyone out there who's had this
experience with their child - even if just to tell me that it
doesn't go away until they're six -- but mostly I'm hoping for
some tips on how to make it tolerable. I don't need to ''cure''
him, or even know why (it's enough to make a person wonder about
past lives...) but if there were a way to make the occasional
unavoidable bath less of a terrible betrayal of trust, that
would be really great.
As the summer heats up, I've begun speculating about getting a
wading pool and experimenting in the front yard, but I just
Our son went through possibly more than one fear-of-bath phases.
I recall one instance where my husband just got him wet and
cleaned as fast as possible then took him out of the tub. There
was an entire period where he would allow us to bathe him only if
he could keep his clothes on. We went along with it until he
outgrew it. In your son's case, if you don't mind not bathing
him but need to wash his hair, why not allow him to stay out of
the tub but hang his head over while you pour water over his head
and lather his hair? Will he allow that?
My daughter has been terrified of bathing for one year. She would
scream every time until the bath was over. When she was one we
went on vacation to visit my parents. They had a baby pool in
the backyard with various toys. She was not afraid to be in the
pool. We took the toys with us and we put them in her bathtub.
She did not scream anymore and loves the bath since then.
The baby pool is worth a try.
We have used up all our current crop of ideas for how to help
our twenty-one month old son overcome his debilitating fear of
the bath. He used to love the bath, the pool, the ocean -- all
water. Then about three months ago he started self-toilet
training, and at the same time he developed a hysterical fear of
the bathtub. I think the two are connected because he figured
out how to control the stream of his urine while standing up in
the bathtub. He now uses the potty a few times a day (not under
any pressure, and he uses his diapers as well). But he will not
get into the bathtub under any inducement. We've tried
repeatedly to reintroduce him to the bath with these ploys:
baths with friends his age; baths with his parents; playing with
bath toys in the water while standing outside the tub; letting
him give mama or dad a bath; letting him tell the parent running
the bath ''no hot'' (he expresses fear that the bath is hot);
bathing him in a plastic bucket on the porch; showering; reading
bath books; I've even told him the bath is water not pee-pee
(just in case he was confused) and we tasted the bath water
together. We have left him alone for a couple weeks at a time,
just giving him the occasional sponging down with a washcloth.
But once in a while he gets really filthy and needs a more
thorough soaking, and then he is inconsolably hysterical
(screaming with intense fear) until he is out of the bathtub and
dried off. Yet he loves water outside the bathtub, and happily
plays with any muddy puddle he can discover. And I don't think
its a fear of going down the drain, because our drain is hidden,
and he is not at all afraid of flushing the toilet while he is
sitting on it!
Has anyone else been able to help their child with an intense
bath phobia in a way different than those I've outlined? We
used to love taking baths together in the good old days, and I
would like to have a thorough cleaning be a more than once-
I have never personally dealt with this issue but I know several
kids who developed bath phobia. My main observation was that
for the kids who were allowed to avoid baths, this did not go
away. For example, I have an absolutely filthy four year old
nephew. He was and still is allowed to go eons without coming
near water and he has never gotten used to it. I also have a
few friends who lovingly made their kids face their fears and
the issue seemed to go away with time. But this is a small
I missed your original message and only saw someone's
response, so my apologies if I've missed some of the
nuances of your problem.
Our two-year-old developed a huge fear of the bathtub at the
beginning of the year. We figured out that he was terrified of
the shower -- we have a detachable hand-held shower head
that I was using it to rinse his hair when I couldn't rinse it out
otherwise. Every time I turned off the water at the bath spout,
he thought it meant that the shower would come on and he
would leap out. It got to the point where he wouldn't go in the
tub at all.
I ended up consulting a couple different parenting books
about toddler fears, and it seemed like forcing the issue
(using the tub) would be counterproductive as would
avoiding it (not taking a bath) all together. We wanted to help
him confront his fears in a nonthreatening way.
So we started bathing him in the kitchen sink. Luckily, he did
accept the change of venue once we convinced him there
was no shower in the vicinity. In the meantime, we talked a
lot about the bathtub with him, invited him to watch us take
showers, and even had him ''help'' me take a couple baths.
After about a month, we started asking him where he
wanted to take a bath, in the kitchen or in the bathtub. He
still chose the kitchen, but was aware he had a choice. A
couple times he chose the bathtub, but changed his mind.
The transition back to the tub wasn't easy. We managed to
convince him to go into the bathtub with the lure of bubbles
(the kind you blow). The first couple of forays back in the tub
were extremely tentative. Also, for two weeks straight, one of
us had to be in the bath with him blowing bubbles. We also
made a point of saying ''bye bye shower'' every time we filled
the bath so that he knew we won't be using it. It's been
about two months since he's back in the tub and he seems
to have forgotten all about his original fear.
Hope this helps,
I did not see the original post - but my (now) 3 yr. old
daughter had a serious fear of the bathtub for about a year
starting at around 18 mos. She would scream like a banshee any
time she got near the tub, and I would get so scared and worried
by the level of her fear that for a while I just stood her on a
few towels and gave her sponge baths.
We tried talking it through, going slow - explaining that she
wouldn't go down the drain - to no avail -
What finally did the trick was actually a pretty simple
solution - we put her smaller old infant tub INSIDE the big
bathtub and filled that one with water - she had no problems at
all splashing around in her ''boat.'' Eventually we filled the big
tub and the little tub and she would go in and out of the little
one until one day we didn't need it any more - I guess that was
just her ''training tub.''
mom of a clean kiddo
All 3 of my 4 kids have gone through this (and I suspect the 1yo
will hit it as well) around age 2. I simply stopped doing baths
- simply doing ''monkey'' baths (cleanup with washcloth) and never
forced this issue. all 3 grew out of their phobia. i will warn
you however, our 3.5yo still has an intense phobia about hair
washing due to a ''forced'' hairwashing her father gave her years ago.
My advice- don't force it. Allow him to
play/splash/shower/whatever means he finds pleasurable - and do
not force bathe him. I would advise you to take a nightly bath -
to clean yourself ) and model a fun bathtime. Me, I'd LOVE a
nice soak at the end of the day! )
24-month-old fears hair in the bathtub
I also have a fear of the bath question of sorts. My 24-month old daughter
suddenly developed a fear of fuzz or hair in the bathtub about a month ago.
We thought she would get over it, but it has only gotten worse. Whereas she
used to just scream, "Help, help, there's a hair in the bath," and then
resume her bath once we had scooped out the offending hair or piece of fuzz,
now she immediately starts screaming, "There's hair in my bath, I want to
get out please!" almost ast soon as we put her into the tub. She seems
traumatized for several minutes after we take her out of the bath. I have no
idea how to handle this. I clean the tub carefully before her bath, but
somehow something, usually a doghair, ends up in the bathtub, and she
notices it before I do. Bubblebaths help, but I've heard that these can
encourage UTI's, so I only give her bubblebaths occasionally. Any
suggestions? Is she too young for showers? I don't want to cause permanent
psychological damage by subjecting her to this trauma each night...
Showers work, though probably you or your partner will need to shower with
her. I thought my daughter was the only one with extreme annoyance with
hairs in the tub. The other thing is that little kids don't need daily
baths and if twice a week is all she can handle, you can take care of the
rest by spot cleaning her with baby wipes.
This is for the parent with the child who is afraid of hair in the bathtub:
I don't have any experience with your child's particular fear, but our son,
now two, has been showering with us since he was seven months old, and takes
baths only when visiting grandparents or for a special treat. While we had
to watch him closely at first, to make sure he didn't slip, and have had to
be extra vigilant since he discovered that the slope of our bathtub
resembles a slide, we have had no problems showering with him and find it
neater (no splashing) and more fun for everyone, since a parent gets to
Our kids took showers with us when they were babies, and then on their own.
We have always left to them whether to choose a shower or a bath when it is
time to wash. Your daughter might like to try showering if she is afraid of
the bath. Just be sure that there is a good mat to prevent slipping, and be
prepared for a lot of water on the floor if the shower isn't enclosed. If
she is reluctant at first, you might consider going for a swim at a local
pool that has showers in the locker room so she can noodle around in the
shower without associating it with the dreaded bath. The pool at the MLK
Jr. High on Hopkins has (or at least used to have) family swim times and a
big communal shower area.
27-month-old won't go near the bath
Our 27-month-old daughter until a week ago loved the bath. Now, she won't go
near it. After a week, she has gotten kind of grubby, particularly her hair.
I have read the website for past advice and am seeking some more if anyone
has anything to add to it. We have asked her if she wants to take a bath with
either of us and she says no. I put one of her dolls in the bath as a "new
toy" kind of thing, but she didn't want any part of that, either. I am
fearful that I may have provoked this one night recently when it was getting
really late and although she wanted to take a bath, I told her it was too
late and she'd have to take it tomorrow. Now, all she says is "tomorrow" when
we approach her for bath time. So, it sure seems to be my fault and I'm not
sure how to fix the problem. Thanks for any advice you can give to help get
my daughter to love the bath again.
Perhaps a different approach might be in order...instead of encouraging your
daughter to take a bath, maybe you could suggest a new adventure into the
"rainforest" of the shower??? My son has been a shower baby since he was
about 6 months old. He takes baths occasionally and thinks of them as big
treats. Maybe since your daughter has been a bath baby, she might find the
shower an exciting switch? She might feel more comfortable never being
submerged in water, and as long as Mom or Dad stands in the spray, baby can
play in relative dryness at the end of the shower.
My 2.5-years old loves to take long bath but she's pretty scared of
shower. We take her for swimming and after her class, she
absolutely refuses to take shower. I generally end up dressing her
up after the class without shower. Can you please let me know if
there are any harmful side-effects by not giving her a shower after
I grew up literally drenched in chlorine and am just fine--I swam
every day, all day, nonstop--I was the kid who slept in her
swimsuit in order to leap out of bed and up to swim practice. I
am sure that my hair took a beating then, but I was not a hair
model at age 9. Sounds as if the key with your 2.5 year old is
for her to enjoy swimming, right? I wouldn't force the shower and
would make sure to use lotion or oil on her skin--get a yummy
scent that she likes-- if she's African American make sure to
condition her hair with oil or leave-on conditioner--and be done
with the issue. Most adults aren't scared of showering.
She'll grow up loving swimming.
Well, I never take post-swim showers for a number of reasons
(modestly, hassles, etc) I don't expect my kids to take them
either. We don't swim regularly, and we bathe later at home.
This is just my anecdote - you should talk to your doctor about
your particular health concerns (any pre-existing skin conditions
for example). The only issues I know of in leaving
chlorine-treated water to dry on skin/hair is a drying out
Mom of Two
this page was last updated: Jul 31, 2012
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