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2 yo with bath fears

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

I did a forum search but the threads are all pretty old.  I'm also looking for suggestions for what to do when my toddler has real fears that I can't just completely work around.  I don't want to FORCE him into it.

 

My 2 yo has started being afraid of bathtime.  It is because he hates having water poured over his head (and thus into his eyes).  Tonight it was a complete freak out, wouldn't agree to get in even if we didn't wash hair.  As far as I can tell, he understood, just wouldn't do it.

 

Tell me this will pass.  Tell me it's OK if he gets a little funky.

post #2 of 35

I'm sorry that I don't have advice but wanted to tell you that this has just started happening with my 2 year old as well!  I know the fact that there's someone else with a wee one the same age going through this at least makes me feel like perhaps it's a normal phase. smile.gif  Wishing you much luck!

post #3 of 35

My kids have all gone some phase like this at some point, it is when I start counting a trip to the indoor pool as a bath. And we start going more often. lol.gif

post #4 of 35

Oh man, it's horrible for us right now and has been for a few months now.  She's fine in the bath but hates, hates, hates having her hair washed.  It's a really big problem since she has very curly hair and it needs to be washed with conditioner regularly otherwise it gets so tangled that it takes forever with lots of screaming to get them out.  Honestly? We just force it.  If she had straight hair we probably wouldn't worry about it but since it's worse for us to wait we try and distract her as much as possible and then wash her hair (normally I just use my hand to put the water on her hair so then it's not all at once and it doesn't get in her eyes.  If I use just a bit of shampoo it helps too since I can get it out without dumping water with a cup.  It's not foolproof but sometimes I get away with it without too many complaints!

post #5 of 35

If it's a "water in his face" issue, maybe try a visor?  Or, is he more amenable to the idea if you get in the bath, too?

 

If you don't have curly hair needs like the PP does, why not just skip the bath?  We went through a period like this right around the 2 year mark, where DS seemed to be afraid of the bath after getting water in his eyes once.  We kept his face, diaper area, and hands clean, and we just let the idea of a daily bath go.  After a week or two, he was ready to give it another try (although, it's possible that that new bubble bath was a big motivator!).  He didn't get funky when we went bath-free!  I don't think it's an uncommon phase to go through at that age.  

 

My belief was that forcing a bath would cause more issues.  Now he's back to loving baths on most days.  When he doesn't want a bath, we skip it.  

post #6 of 35
Thread Starter 

mama2soren, i think these are my thoughts on it too.  it seems right now like it will cause more problems.  he doesn't have curly hair and it hasn't been a long time yet.  maybe i will just give him a bit and see?

 

glad to see this is a common issue though!  i was kind of starting to get concerned the fears were excessive.  i know it's developmentally appropriate, but didn't know how far was too far.

post #7 of 35

My 18 mo daughter has the same fears (hair washing) so this is what I do. I wash her hair oncea week and for that I do a special type of bath. I put her in the big bathtub, get in and sit on the edge and wash her body using a mug. After she is done I hold her close to my body in a hug and tilt her head towards me. With the same mug I then pour water gently down her head behind her back. She gets afraid and clings more tightly, sometimes whimpers too....

 

I then shampoo and again pour the water gently so it falls behind her back and she is still tightly clinging to me. This way isn't so bad. She doesn't get water in her face or eyes and is a bit more tolerant to this method. OF course I get wet too.....

post #8 of 35

our 23 month old is just coming out of a phase similar to this. She has always loved the water but just started hating having her hair washed. We let it go for a while. We'd give her a bath and try it and not stress out about her hair being funky, she's a kid after all. :)

 

What ended up working for us was this.

 

She found this little playmobil man figure and has become totally in love with it. We don't do plastic stuff really but there was no way this was going anywhere. She wants to feed this guy, bathe this guy, brush his teeth, etc. So he comes in the bath with us and we wash his hair first, since then she's fine with it. She's hit a stage of make believe play and it's not just that one guy anymore but all of her toys. When she's freaking out about something we find one of her toys and change it's diaper, get it dressed, or whatever so she sees it and gets into it and then she's cool with it and wants to help.

 

post #9 of 35

food coloring in the bath water!  dd likes colored baths to this day. i let her choose the color(s).

 

dd's stint lasted off and on for months.  like the rest of you, i didn't force the issue.  instead, i'd fill the sink with sudsy water and bathe her as i imagined the pioneers may have :)

post #10 of 35

I have no help or suggestions just sympathy. My DS1 (now nearly 4 - march 07), started hating baths around 2 yrs too. And nearly 2 yrs later, he still hates them. Still screams bloody murder anytime you give him a bath. Its horrible. He likes to sit and splash and play in the water, hell he loves to run around in the rain outside, but getting a bath or a shower? Torture. Pure and simple torture. Good luck.

post #11 of 35
Thread Starter 

Well, no luck so far.  He will not agree to anything yet - no new bath toys, not taking a bath with me, etc.  It's just been a week, I'm willing to give it a few more days.  No smell yet...

post #12 of 35

My ds doesn't always go for a bath, so when theres food in his hair (his hair is SUPER fine, and very thin still, so this may not work if your ds has a full head of hair) I just use a washcloth and get the washcloth decently wet and do some scrubbing.  He doesn't like it, but he doesn't fight it like the bath.

post #13 of 35

Hugs, mama.  His hair will be okay.  honestly, hair does all right not being washed, it kind of works iteself out (oil levels, etc.). 

 

 

But I wanted to say that with anxiety and children, sometimes avoiding what they fear *confirms* in their mind that there is something worthy of being fearful of...

 

So I am not advocating forcing him to  wash his hair, I am saying that he should have a bath of some kind, even if he isn't totally into it.  Maybe a shower, or get the house nice and warm and prefill the bath so it is warm (I don't know where you are but it is cold here!).... and have it be something that occurs with some regularity (once a week on Sundays or something like that). 

 

Otherwise you are kind of reinforcing that there is something scary 'bout the bath.

post #14 of 35
DS1 went through a similar phase between 18mos and 2yo. I actually just "bathed" him with him sitting on a towel in the living room. I used a bucket of water and a washcloth. I don't remember if I used soap...if I did, I probably used a little bit, then got a fresh bucket of water to rinse. I don't think it took too long before he was ok in the tub again. He's now 6yo, and loves bath nights. lol I think it's a good idea to take a break from baths for a bit, then gently try again with no pressure. Maybe get some new bath toys, bath paints, stuff like that.

For hair, a wet washcloth rubbed over the scalp is enough generally. I went a LONG time without giving ds1 a proper hair washing. He's a sensitive type kid, and the water in his eyes was a really big deal to him. Even at 5yo, he'd almost cry if water got in his eyes. He's perfectly fine now at 6.

eta- about reinforcing the fear- I think it's possible to do that, depending in how you deal with the situation. I think at that age that if you start nonchalantly giving sponge baths instead of tub baths (and don't mention it as a sub for a tub bath), that he'll never notice the absense of tub baths.
post #15 of 35

DS hadn't taken a full bath in a couple MONTHS so I was desperate for a solution. I found this Crayola set in the gift section at Walmart (ugh) that contained bath crayons, a vinyl 'coloring page', and a squeegy to clean the coloring page. I had wanted to get him bath crayons but the blue squeegy sealed the deal, I knew he'd LOVE it. The vinyl mat smells horrendous just to warn you though!! (Though not much worse than a kid that won't bathe!) Anyway, I brought it home & showed DS & told him this was a bath toy (didn't let him take it out of the box or look closely at it, I wanted him to understand this was only to be used in the bath, so I guess maybe it was a bribe but I prefer the word 'incentive' lol!) He jumped in the bath & stayed in for a long time & had a blast coloring & squeegying!

 

Everything else I tried before that didn't work (marginal success with me getting in the bath with him, but he still was really anxious) but the crayons did the trick!

post #16 of 35

Up until 2 and a half my DS loved the bath so much we'd use it as a bribe. Then one day he completely freaked out when we put him in and wouldn't stop crying. It was worse if he got water in his eyes. He became so scared of bathing that I wondered if something was seriously wrong -- then I googled and found out this was common at this age. What helped was this: I got in a bathing suit and  lined up a bunch of new little frog toys on the edge of the tub. I asked him if the frogs wanted to jump in the pond. He said yes and plopped them in, then I asked, should mommy jump in the pond? After I got in I asked him if he wanted to jump in. He did but would not let me take off his clothes...so I let him get in fully clothed. After a little bit I was able to then get him undressed and wash him while we played with the toys. Now I can just sit on the edge with my feet in, though he occasionally asks for me to get in so he can sit on my lap. I'm hoping he'll get back to enjoying the bath like he used to. We only do it once a week now and have to use a washcloth on his diaper area so he doesn't smell funky.

post #17 of 35

I haven't read all the posts yet, but it is probably just a phase.  My dd went through it; I can't exactly remember what age or for how many months, but I just washed her with a wash cloth in the mean time.  Eventually she wanted to get in the bath, but it took a while.  I just completely dropped it for a while, and then started asking her from time to time if she wanted a bath.  I also took baths and allowed her to play in the bathroom while I was in there and eventually she wanted to get in with me.

 

The most important thing, imo, is not to push it.  We did eventually get back to hair-washing, but it was a gradual process.  For a long time I washed her hair with a washcloth in the tub.  I'd wash the shampoo out a bit at a time with the washcloth, rinsing it between in the tub.  It took a long time, but I wasn't willing to force her.

post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by physmom View Post

Oh man, it's horrible for us right now and has been for a few months now.  She's fine in the bath but hates, hates, hates having her hair washed.  It's a really big problem since she has very curly hair and it needs to be washed with conditioner regularly otherwise it gets so tangled that it takes forever with lots of screaming to get them out.  Honestly? We just force it.  If she had straight hair we probably wouldn't worry about it but since it's worse for us to wait we try and distract her as much as possible and then wash her hair (normally I just use my hand to put the water on her hair so then it's not all at once and it doesn't get in her eyes.  If I use just a bit of shampoo it helps too since I can get it out without dumping water with a cup.  It's not foolproof but sometimes I get away with it without too many complaints!



That sounds horrible.  Maybe you should consider cutting her hair short for a while to avoid the hair-washing ordeal and the hair-brushing ordeal.

post #19 of 35


I've thought about it (and I realize now why I had short hair for so long as a kid!) but I just can't bring myself to do it because we already get so many comments about her being a boy... :( Plus, I love the curls when I can actually get them washed.  One thing I've been trying to do now, though, is braid her hair at night (if she lets me) then it doesn't get as insane and doesn't need to be washed as much. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnygir1 View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by physmom View Post

Oh man, it's horrible for us right now and has been for a few months now.  She's fine in the bath but hates, hates, hates having her hair washed.  It's a really big problem since she has very curly hair and it needs to be washed with conditioner regularly otherwise it gets so tangled that it takes forever with lots of screaming to get them out.  Honestly? We just force it.  If she had straight hair we probably wouldn't worry about it but since it's worse for us to wait we try and distract her as much as possible and then wash her hair (normally I just use my hand to put the water on her hair so then it's not all at once and it doesn't get in her eyes.  If I use just a bit of shampoo it helps too since I can get it out without dumping water with a cup.  It's not foolproof but sometimes I get away with it without too many complaints!



That sounds horrible.  Maybe you should consider cutting her hair short for a while to avoid the hair-washing ordeal and the hair-brushing ordeal.

post #20 of 35

Have you ever tried getting bath bomb, food coloring in the bath, etc?  My kids love bath bombs, and that will get them in the bath.  Baking soda makes a decent shampoo, so if you can get her to lay all the way down in the bath with a bath bomb, it should be good for awhile, as far as "cleaning" goes. 

 

I think if you make it fun, it might be more attractive? 

 

Maybe try at different times, like in the AM or afternoon?

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