What do you do when your child is scared of the bath? You need to get her clean! It’s not like other fears (clowns, anyone?) where you can just avoid the stressor until your child outgrows the fear. Kids need baths! Today we’re going to share our favorite parenting tips for getting your tot back in the tub! This post was actually inspired by one of our fellow mom friends! She wrote:
“Hi mommies. My 20 month old LOVES bath time. She never wants to get out, just the words “”bath time“” excite her. Up until last week. Not sure if it’s related but she pooped in her bath for the first time – I didn’t make a big deal, just took her out right away. Every since then we tried bathing her 3 different times and she is traumatized. Screaming, crying, kicking her legs. I even tried going in with her and she held onto me like a monkey the whole time crying. I don’t know what to do… She is so scared. I cleaned her with a face cloth but she needs a real bath. Anyone else have a similar experience? And what did you do?”
What to Do When Your Child Is Scared of the Bath?
There are different reasons why a young child might go from loving the bath to fearing the bath. Some babies seem to love it from birth where others appear to hate the experience right from the start. So what can you do when your child needs to be cleaned but seems to be terrified of the bath?
One of the first and most important things to know is that you are not alone. This is actually a fairly common problem that many parents face. This simple fact alone is enough to help many parents remain calm and work through the problem naturally.
Many toddler fears pass as quickly as they arrive so don’t stress too much over this issue and start with alternative ways of getting your little one clean. You won’t help resolve her fear of the bath by forcing her to go into it. Cleaning her with a cloth as our fellow mom has been doing is a good start. You could also try bathing in the sink, or from a tub of water. Some parents find that it helps to bathe the child in the bathroom but not in the actual tub if that is what is causing the fear. Other parents find their child will get in the tub but doesn’t want the water to be stopped inside with them, so they take a bit of a shower-bath method for awhile. If she doesn’t want to go to the bathroom at all without the screaming and crying, try sponge-bathing in another room for now and find other ways to work water play back into her life.
For example, you can show that water is fun with water balloons, spray guns, sprinklers or similar bath toys. You can also show that water is safe when used correctly and with an adult around. You can use a small bowl or plastic container of water to play in with bath toys. This can help acclimate her to the idea of the tub once again.
The most important thing to do is acknowledge and respect her fear. You don’t to agree with it or nurture it, but you should show your daughter you are on her side. For example, say “I can see that you are very afraid. The bath is safe, but I will be here with you, and if you want, we can just use the sink for now.” This is showing her that you acknowledge her fear and that you are there to support her. Often fear is not logical or rational (for people of any age), and your little one is no exception. Trying to rationalize her fears is not going to help her overcome them. Just be there for love and support. This will likely pass on its own, especially if you don’t make a big deal over it.
Try asking her at a future date, “Would you like to try the bath again?” If she says no, or begins to cry, skip it and try another time again. Be patient and offer support and in time, she’ll be loving her bath time again.