What do you do if your once water loving child/toddler/baby suddenly becomes scared of having a bath and refuses to go in?
It’s difficult to believe, when you’ve got children that love water, that they can suddenly become frightened by bath time. From one week splashing and enjoying the water to screaming and clinging to you when you even mention bath time. Hopefully it’s just a phase and something that, with a little bit of help, they will get through. But here are some strategies we tried and can recommend:
- Back off– It’s hard not to go into parent panic mode and think ‘Oh no! My child will never bath again’ but if you put pressure on them now, it’s likely to worsen the situation and reinforce their fear. Instead, take a step back, let them skip the odd bath (just wash them instead) and reassure them that they aren’t going to be forced into the water.
- Bath Toys– Make sure bath time is fun, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy but by adding some new toys into he bath it may provide enough of an incentive to go back in. We tried these bath toys and can recommend them: WOW Toys Susie Speedboat, WOW Toys Sunny Submarine Toy
- Read our review here
- Water Play– Remind your children of the fun they can have with water. Using a tray, washing up bowl or old baby bath get them playing with the water with you. You can build up to putting hands completely in, feet in and even sitting in.
- Paddling Pool– In the summer, if it’s a nice day- take advantage of the sunshine and see if they enjoy the paddling pool still. Again, this can help reinforce that water is fun.
- Play at Washing Dolls– Imaginative Play works wonders for helping children process information and play it out themselves. Try setting up doll/toy bath time and let them enjoy giving their toys a good bath.
- Shower- Some children who become scared of the bath are OK with the idea of a shower instead. Done safely, with adult support, this may help provide an easier way of washing whilst they are finding the bath troublesome. A few weeks later they may be happy to return to baths
- Detective Work– If you’re child’s able to, try asking them to tell you what is scaring them. If not do some detective work- could it be the plug hole sucking the water, the noise of the bathroom fan, the temperature of the water or room, the depth, any new smells, lights? Or could it be a lack of control? If so try cleaning the bath and preparing it together, filling up together, selecting the towels and shampoo together and making them feel part of the process.
What ways have you tried? Write them in the comments.
*Please remember all activities with even just a small amount of water with children need to be supervised by an adult because of the risk of drowning.
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