Ever since my Lil’ (my third child) was born, she hated bath time. From ever since she was a baby she hated getting wet – may it be her diaper or taking a bath. The minute I undressed her, she’d understand that it was time to go to the bathroom.
She’d scream murder!
I often had my husband or sometime my mum helping me with the baby and we’d both get so distressed and guilty that we had to make her go through that. Eventually, I resorted to giving her just sponge baths for her bed time routine.
But I am sure you know, it isn’t always possible to give just sponge baths. Babies can get really dirty and smelly … and what after massaging her with oil? She definitely needed a warm bath then.
There was no way I could get her to calmly shower or bath with me. I tried everything until one day… our 7 year old invited her to play bubbles with her when she was 18 months old.
We solved our toddler’s fear of baths in three days! She now enjoys bath time and actually cooperates and looks forward to them. She isn’t terrified of showers either. What did we do? We call it the Bubble Solution. Read on.
(Update April 2020)
Why some kids hate bath time and what to do about it
There are so many reasons why your child may have taken an aversion to bath time. It could be that they hate getting water in their eyes or they could be afraid of soap. Little babies are afraid of the splashing sound of water too. They are unable to understand the inability to hold water and getting wet.
It could be a sensory issue too. But what ever the reason, it can be super stressful.
I am lucky that we have a very active seven year old who involves his sisters in his play. They love messy play but more so, they love to experiment and try out new things that they make on their own.
Lil’ One had started showing her aversion to baths and showers at eight months. We didn’t understand why she was behaving the way she was and her doctor only said that children that age show a lot of anxious behaviours and we should take it in our stride.
Sometimes when Lil’One was 18 month or so, we tested our bubble solution recipe. It was a huge success because the bubbles were so huge and Lil’ One was enjoying every moment of it. Everyday, for the next few days, my son would make bubbles at outdoor time and they would play. One day, while I was busy, they got to making their own. I had recently let them test out a variety of tools for blowing. One of them was to use straws. They wanted to use it again. I was afraid for Lil’ One throwing a tantrum, because it was close to her bath time but I gave in anyway. They had filled the baby’s tub with water. Then they got into our tub and son started blowing bubbles into the cup . The bubbles filled the cup and started to flow into the baby tub. Lil’ One was delighted to see bubbles collecting on the water. She kept on swishing and splashing her arms in the water. She wasn’t afraid. Had it been another day, she would have been screaming and thrashing wildly. If it was bath time, she would have grabbed my dress or put her arms around me drenching me with the water too. But here she was that day, getting wet and she didn’t care!
I love to catch my kids on camera when they are playing by themselves. Luckily, we have pictures to share with you from that day.
|He started with blowing into the cup of Bubble solution|
|The bubbles were now overflowing from the cup|
|The baby tub was filled with bubbles floating on the top.|
|She test the water|
|Tries to catch bubbles|
I let them play a few minutes longer and then told them that they had five minutes to bath time. She cooperated and calmly took her bath! This had never happened before.
We tried bubble play for 20 minutes before bath the next day too. It worked again. The third day, we were late from running errands outside and didn’t have time for play, so I proceeded to give her a shower. I was afraid for a meltdown, but on the contrary, she cheerfully cooperated! That was the end of our hydrophobia. We have never had any trouble again.
Six months forward, as I write this post now, I have wondered and tried to find an answer as to why this worked. I believe, sensory play solved our daughter’s fear of water. I have been reading up on how sensory processing effect a child’s behaviour. All our senses and our processing and responses depend on what goes on in our bodies and in our surrounding. How our body translates that, is how we behave. (You can read all about our sensory discovery in this post.) Something was irritating my daughter and making her uncomfortable to water and bathing. Playing with bubbles and giving her some time to get used to it or settle into the mood prepared her for her bath. In the process, it taught her to not fear water.
What to Do If Your Baby Hates Bath Time
How can you help your child?
Here are a few things you can do.
(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I make a small commission from qualifying sales. )
1. Give them time. Don’t hurry. Always give children ample time to prepare themselves for the next activity in their day. Talk to them before hand. Tell them that you will be taking them for their bath in a few minutes. Always have a cheerful, relaxed environment before you take your anxious child.
2. Introduce sensory play. If you have never had sensory play for your child, it is a good time to consider it now. Most of us don’t know what sensory play means and that is one of the reasons why we don’t consider it. Those of us who do, think it is too much work or too messy. Sensory play is playing with material that stimulates the senses. Even giving your child a loofah or a bath sponge to play with can be considered sensory play. He or she will love the texture of it against their skin and the feeling will relax their nerves. Bath toys (Sensory Toys ) that spurt water or blowing bubbles, like the way we did, can be a lot of fun. The best thing that I love about playing sensory in the bath, is that they make the mess right where they can be cleaned up! How convenient is that?!
3. Let them be themselves. Again, don’t push them. Let them play as they like. I find it really hard to sit still or keep my hands off them so I get myself busy with scrubbing the sink or arranging the bathroom around. I can be right there and out of their hair! (Pun intended. :p)
4. Give them an opportunity to test their environment. Some children won’t even enter the bathroom. Our CuppyCake, would recognize the bathroom and start crying. We changed that by taking her to the bathroom for no reason at all. We would go to the bathroom to do nothing but look in the mirror. I would let her grab the towels and bring them with her or let her ‘shop’ in the cabinets for her favourite item to explore. She once got back all the toothbrushes which we handed out to everyone! Let them help you prepare their baths, if that will help them. Pouring bath solution in the water or rubbing their little feet with soap…
5. Always have a child led learning. Don’t teach them. Let them learn. Taking a bath is a lesson too, you know. Consider it a life skill! 🙂 We don’t want to raise someone who takes a bath once in six months, do we? 😉
6. Don’t judge them. Don’t get angry too. I know that some little ones can really test our patience but when we get angry, they get anxious. That anxiety can result in aversions. No, they will not hurt themselves. I know how hard it is to not panic when they want to pour the entire content of the bottle into their bath. Just remind yourself that you are there. Just master the art of distraction . They are babies and babies don’t really know anything. Relax Mom! 🙂
7. Want a ‘rad’ solution? Try these vibrant light up shower heads! They are LED Light up Shower heads
We are so relieved now that our Lil’ One is taking baths again. Of course, it also means that now she goes to the bathroom to sneak in some fun too. I find building blocks and tissues in our tub all the time now. And more than once, I have had to send her bedroom rug to the cleaners but… well… 🙂
Need more ideas for helping your child with bath time? Here are 10 Hacks for a Tearless Bath Time Routine With Toddlers
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