Monday, November 15, 2010

bath time blues

D used to love bath time. It was hard getting him out of the bath tub.  He'd sit and play with his toys and cups, splash about, etc.  Fun times!  The only part he disliked was getting his hair washed, but then it seemed we were turning a corner with that and he was tolerating it much more.

Then, a few weeks ago, something changed, and he went from LOVING baths to HATING them. With a passion.  As in, at best he'll stand in the tub and scream and cry with tears running down his face.  At worst I've had to physically restrain him as I try to splash some water on him to make the effort and trauma at least somewhat worthwhile.  Tonight I even tried making it a bubble bath (bubble baths are FUN right??) but no dice.  He still hated it, screamed the whole time.

I really don't know what did it.  I can't think of a bad or scary experience that might've caused him to hate/fear baths, we haven't switched products so don't think it could be a reaction to something... I'm at a loss.  He's not keen on showers, either.  At least it's winter, so he can sort of get away with only taking a bath 1-2 times a week (and let's not talk about how long it's been since we even attempted to wash his hair)... but GAH! This sucks.  It reminds me of when he was a baby-- he liked baths ok then, but getting him out was positively traumatic-- no matter what I did, he'd scream and scream and I'd race as quickly as I could to get him dried off, slap some lotion on, and put clothes on him (I still laugh at my attempts to do any sort of baby massage, all the while cursing everyone else's descriptions of their "peaceful, calming" bath & massage routine).  At the end I'd feel totally drained.

So. If anyone out there has any advice or tips, I would love to hear them.  Because I'm not sure how much more of this screaming I can take.  I HATE having to force him to do something he clearly doesn't want to do.  It sucks and it makes me feel like a terrible person. I just wish I knew what could make it better.


  1. As I sit here, I remember going through those phases, but I'm drawing a complete blank on how we got out of them. I do know that they were short lived though.

    Do either of you go in the bath with him? We often do and I think that made a big difference. We also made our own bath toy advent calendar one year...maybe having new toys to take in all the time would make it more interesting?

  2. Annie- I've thought about getting some new toys, though am having trouble finding ones I like since I've gotten completely turned off on all squirt toys (which seems to be the main kind of bath toys available...).

    Maybe when Zach gets back we can try having him take a bath with D... it'd be cramped, but might work. I don't think there's any way I'd fit with him now, lol...

  3. I'm inclined to think it'll shift magically too, but meanwhile...Really curious about how it changed, one day to next? he loves swimming, watering, and puddles, too bad it's too cool to hose down outside. Is the temperature change part of it (maybe getting chilled taking off clothes, etc?). Or is he just randomly asserting another different individual stance, as the building anticipation of new baby brother over which he has no control crescendoes? Don't even think you're doing anything not right. He's a rugged individualist and you can't buy that. And he looks amazingly gorgeous and perfectly clean enough in all your pictures. So

  4. Nicholas also started protesting bath time. It's because he has now realized that bath time inevitably leads to bed time. He wants to stay up and play all night long, so anything he can do to push back all bed time related activities is being done. We are just matter of fact about it, he realizes that bath time is not going away so he might as well enjoy it.

  5. Sounds awful :-(

    Maybe you could just give up on baths for a while. Just wash him with a flannel?

    My daughter loves panting in the bath. I make paints by adding food colouring to liquid soap and she paints on the tiles when in the bath. It washes straight off when she's finished.

  6. We just got out of a large period of my son (3y) hating washing/showering. Initially I've tried new toys, but it didn't last that long - the most successful were washable crayons, with which you can draw on bathroon walls, and then just wipe it clean with a sponge.
    Looking back, here's what worked for us in the long run:
    - him watching one of us taking a shower/bath. No mentioning of him washing that day, I would just ask if he wanted to see mommy/daddy talking a shower
    - proposing shower/bath during the day, when he's not tired. This worked surprisingly well, with him spending an hour playing in bath
    - teaching him how to wash himself
    - not insisting to wash every time he gets into the bath. Sometimes it was just play time, if he didn't want to wash (I just put some shower gel in the water, so he could soak in :D )
    - before washing himself, washing his favourite monkey bath toy - this worked especially well for hair washing, and we still do it now.
    It's been just a month I think since things got back on track with bath time, hope it's for good.
    Hope some of these things could work for you as well :)

  7. We went through this with Finn this summer. He went from loving baths to not only hating them but not wanting one single toy in his tub. He would freak out if there was one and he would stand the whole bath. He still hates having his hair washed with a passion. We just kept doing them, telling him it would be okay, and doing them quickly. As quickly as it started it stopped, and we still have no idea why! I feel for you!

  8. I have no advice but my baby is the.exact.same. I really 100% could've written your post but insert "C" for D! I cannot remember the last time we gave her a bath- it is THAT traumatic that I block it out! (Ok, not really, but it WAS a week ago i think... I have the dirty kid!!!!)

    If you find some sort of magic solution, please, please post it on my blog?!

    Friends have suggested tub crayons and new toys. I'm going to try the crayons soon. But new toys- forget it, she won't even LOOK at the ones she has right now. She just clings to me whilst I attempt to wash her!

  9. I know you are a very compassionate and thoughtful mother, so you may have already tried this, but...
    Have you asked him what it is about bath time that bothers him? It's hard for young kids to explain their feelings, but he may be able to point you in the right direction. Especially if you sit down with him at not-bath-time and just have a conversation about it without any immediate pressure. Even if he can't explain his feelings, maybe it would help him to hear you acknowledge his dilemma. Maybe talk about how you recognize that bath time is a frustrating time for him and it is frustrating for you too, to see him upset, but you want to make it as easy as possible for you both and does he have any ideas about how to make baths easier and maybe suggest some of your own ideas that he might like, etc.

    You could also try making it as much his choice as possible. For instance, tell him in the morning that he will have a bath today and would he like to take it after breakfast or after dinner. Maybe let him choose what towel he will use and which toys he will take to the tub with him. Giving him lots of choices about bath time may help him feel in control.

    Good luck! I hope you find something that works.

  10. the good news is that even though you may feel like a terrible person for making him do something he clearly doesn't want to do- you're totally not. You're a rockstar! Such a wonderful person. This too shall pass. Sorry it's so aggravating! I know it's not exactly the best time for this situation!

  11. Hey Marcy, here's a thought... What if, he's getting to the "let me do it by myself" stage? Perhaps he doesn't like the fact that you bathe him... Have you tried leaving it up to him? Sure, he'll be dirty for a few days, but empower him by showing him how to shower instead of bathe (after all, he can stand and squirt a bottle, right?). Maybe dad can shower with him and show him how, wouldn't THAT be an amazing experience for D? :) I know it worked for my brother, perhaps it will work for D... Keep us posted!

  12. We gave up on baths a long time ago & only do showers now. Sometimes I'll go in with them, sometimes DH, sometimes I'll just sit outside the shower.

    Also? It's kinda gross, but the spray-on soap they love for "decorating" the walls, I'll pick up a canister of that every now & then to change things up.

    We also keep foam letters in the tub - which 3yo likes to identify & 6yo likes to make up silly sentences.

    And, just time... :)



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