Parents Guide: What to do if your baby hates baths

Your baby’s bath isn’t just for getting clean. It’s supposed to be a warm, soothing ritual. It gives parents and babies one-on-one time that’s enjoyable for everyone – or is it?

If your baby screams at the sight, sound, or touch of a bath, you’re not alone. It can be distressing for both of you, but eventually, this phase will pass. In the meantime, here are solutions that have worked for other moms and dads.

Why Children are Afraid of The Bath

Why Your Baby Hates Bath Time - Baby Bath Moments

Newborns may feel out of control, dislike the temperature change, or dislike the sensation of floating. Older babies and toddlers may be afraid of the water draining noise or of falling under the water. They may object to having their hair washed or having water or soap in their eyes.

1. Handling bath-time phobias

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When a child is afraid of the bath, it’s best to respect her feelings and avoid forcing her into the tub when she’s upset. Instead, be gentle and keep your hand on your child’s tummy to make him feel safe. A face washer on your child’s tummy or chest can also make him feel more at ease in the bath. Help her feel in control of the washing. Try to engage her in any way that she will accept, for example, by wetting the cloth and helping to clean herself. See if she will play with water from outside the tub. A bath time routine can help newborns and babies feel more at ease because it lets them know what to expect.

2. Check the temperature

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Because babies get cold easily, make sure the room is toasty (75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal). If you’re in the bathroom, you can steam up the room by running the shower before your baby’s bathtime. And have everything ready (supplies gathered, tub filled) before you undress your child.

3. Distract your baby with songs and toys

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Distraction is a great baby bathtime strategy. Rubber ducky and other floating toys are sure to delight. But there’s no need to go overboard: Various plastic containers work well too. (To prevent mold from collecting on those playthings, dry toys between baths in a mesh bag and clean periodically.) If your baby is tired of her toys, singing a song in between also can make her bathtime fun.

4. Stick to a routine

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Maintain a consistent bathing routine for your child, bathing them at the same time or close to the same time every night. Don’t forget to put toys in the tub to distract your child. Wrap your little one securely in a towel and play with them by flying them around the bathroom and bedroom, stopping at mirrors to look at themself and toys for your child to kiss. When your child is used to the routine, they get a little frustrated if their bath doesn’t start on time.

5. Let your baby feel safe.

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How to slip your slippery little fish into the tub without startling them? With your child’s head resting on your arm and your palm under their bottom, hold their arm securely with your other hand. Then gently slide your baby into the tub, feet first. Even when they can sit up, keep one hand on them at all times. A sudden dip underwater won’t harm them, but it’ll give them a scare.

Don’t worry if your little one doesn’t take the bait right away. Feel free to schedule bathtime just three times per week as long as you clean well during diaper changes. Responding in this way is not coddling or being too lenient. It lets your child know that their needs are important and that you will provide support to help them cope with life’s challenges. Be patient, and before you know it, your baby’s bathtime will become a treasured part of her day.

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