A fear of baths or showers could lead to crying. Here’s what to do to make bath time fun for everyone.
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Question: Hey there, this is Daniel from Raleigh, North Carolina. As a first-time dad, Parents Club has been super helpful for me, especially the Quick Tip episodes on bonding with your child. My question for you is about shower tantrums. Our daughter is almost 2 years old and HATES bathing/showering. She cries non-stop from when the soap comes out until she’s fully dried and dressed. But she loves water on its own. Any tips on how to make it a more pleasant experience for her and stop the screaming? What can we do? Thank you, guys!
Answer: Hey Daniel! Thanks so much for your question and for being a member of the Parents Club! You are not alone in having a child who screams and cries when you put them in the bath or wash their hair.
Is this common?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the fear of bathing is common among kids, and its first symptoms appear between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. A child could fear baths or showers for many reasons, including a bad bath time memory, hot water burning their skin, or getting soap in their eyes in the past.
Let Them Do Their Shampoo
Thankfully there are ways to stop the tears. One way is to let them do their own shampoo. For some kids, it’s not the rinsing that’s bothersome so much as the sensation of shampoo being rubbed into their scalp. My daughter didn’t like this when she was younger. To help, try putting the shampoo onto a washcloth and applying it that way, or see if your child wants to massage the shampoo in themselves. For children who fear shampoo due to a prior experience of soap in their eyes, you may want to invest in tear-free shampoo.
Another way to lessen the tears is by keeping them busy and distracted. You can try singing songs, playing with bath toys, or bringing in a doll and having your child wash their hair. Another great distraction is playing a game called “what’s on the ceiling.” While repeating “look up…not down…up!” in an increasingly excited tone might be fun, if you’d like a break from it, try asking your child what they see on the ceiling. Place a few character-themed Band-aids on the ceiling and ask your little one to tell you who they see.
If the problem is soap in their eyes or the fear of soap in their eyes, you can give them a dry washcloth or towel for their face, or have them wear a pair of goggles. Alternatively, you can use a handheld showerhead attached to your tub faucet to wash their hair without getting their face wet.
Explain The Benefits of Bathing
The ultimate goal is to help your child understand and accept that bathing is a part of their daily schedule and keeps them from becoming stinky. You could also explain that bathing has many benefits, among which are feeling relaxed, and especially clean.