Newborns often love the bath and it can be a great way to soothe them during those dreaded ‘witching hours’.
However, some babies do not enjoy the bath.
Some of them hate it from day one and others may enjoy it and then suddenly one day start to scream the house down when they hear the running water.
Why do babies hate the bath?
This refusal can be stressful and worrying, but there are a few things to be aware of:
- Remember this is completely normal and is often just a phase
- It could be to do with their newfound independence and feeling out of control
- They just might not love the water, not all babies are water babies
- The temperature might not be to their liking – is it too hot or cold?
- Did they have a bad bath experience? Did water get in their eyes or did they slip? Often they will go off the bath for a while after a negative experience
- Some may particularly hate getting their hair washed and water on their face
- Have they got a cut or sore, sensitive skin or nappy rash? Anything that would be irritated or might sting in the water might be causing their refusal
How to manage bath-time resistance
It’s important that you take their fears seriously and don’t force them to get into the bath if they are upset or distressed. If you do manage to get them in, don’t stay too long, keep it short and sweet and build up gradually.
Talk them through the process of running the bath and let them feel the water on their skin before putting them in. Make it an enjoyable experience, sing some songs and get some bath toys.
Tips for making bath time enjoyable
- For newborns and smaller babies make sure they are in a small baby bath or have an elevated and supportive bath seat
- Maintain eye contact and lots of smiles and songs
- You can place a warm cloth or your hand on their chest to stop them from getting cold
- Stay with your baby at all times
- Small babies don’t need to be bathed every single day so if you’re struggling with it, give yourself a break and only do it every other day.
- Make the post-bath time extra special with lots of cuddles, massage and songs
For older babies and toddlers:
- Get them to help you run the bath and pick which toys to take in, and even tell you what temperature they like. This will help them feel a part of the process and important
- Have a bath with your child
- Get a non-slip mat or stickers for the bottom of the tub so they feel safe
- Don’t pull the plug while they are in there as it can be scary and the sound can be overwhelming
- Try bubble bath and lots of fun bath toys to entice them in
- Sing songs and make it quality time with you
- Your toddler might like to bring in a doll or toy (that is waterproof) that they can wash
- You can get them special bath caps and goggles if they don’t like getting water/soap in their eyes
- Explain to them that if they want to go outside and play and have adventures that they have to get clean at the end of the day.
- If they really hate it maybe try a shower?
Remember some kids are just not water lovers and that’s ok, they don’t have to love it but they have to learn that good hygiene and cleanliness is a part of life and so by persevering they will learn to accept it as part of their daily routine.