DD has never seemed to enjoy bathing as much as other babies seem to do, though she’d usually calm down once she was in the tub, and I even remember her splashing about happily in a hotel pool back in February.
For about 6 months or so now, however, she’s had a positive water phobia going, screaming the house down, lifting her feet almost to her ears on being lowered into the tub, trying to climb the tub walls, developing surprising strength in her panic. We’ve tried the big tub, the little tub, the pool, the shower, warm water, cool water, showing her how much DS enjoys the water, showing her how much other kids enjoy the water, nothing helps. We just make sue to wipe her face and hands these days and keep her bottom clean, but otherwise we leave her dirty and just steel ourselves to a splashdown every four weeks or so.
Anyone have experience with this? What helped? When did your baby outgrow this?
When my DD was 2 1/2 ish she would scream like a crazy and throw a huge fit come bath time. I tried it all, bribes, games, soothing, anything I could do to get her to get in the tub to clean off. And it was summer too!! I would get in the tub with her in my swimsuit and use the handheld sprayer in the shower and wash her. Then one day after swimming at my my BFF's mom's house, we decided to throw all the kids in her mom's huge soaker tub. DD screamed...I don't want to go to bed. And that's when it hit me. She associated bath time with bed time since that;s the routine. After I explained bath time doesn't = bed time she was good, and now I can't get her out!
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What about introducing water as a toy? Sometimes I fill a dishpan with warm soapy water and take it outside for DS to play in it. he Likes to use sponges to "clean" my patio furniture and he like to pour with measuring cups. Maybe it will help her not be so afraid? I would do a no pressure kind of thing . . . just fill it up and have it available for her. Worst that happens is she ignores it. He likes to play in the sink too. I sit him on the edge with just a diaper and he plays with the water coming out of the faucet.
Another thing DS likes to do is play with pouring. Watering cans, small buckets, whatever. Maybe if it becomes part of her play she'll be less afraid.
One thing I have noticed is that DS does not like to be placed in water. We do much better if he goes into a dry tub and then I turn the water on. He plays with the water coming out of the faucet and doesn't notice the tub is filling up.
Yes I should introduce water play. I wish I had thought about doing it before summer was over, would have been so much easier, but I keep hoping she'll just outgrow this phase suddenly. Fat chance, remembering DS' balloon phobia, which went on for years (again, no negative association that we can think of, he had never even heard one pop and was terrified even of the uninflated ones that sales assistants gave out. We used to get some funny looks when I told people hurriedly to please put them away before DS saw them and started to scream the store down).
She did stay away from DS' water play when we were at the beach this summer, I noticed. I am thinking I might fill her doll's bathtub with water - she likes to sit in that (dry, of course), even though it's way too small for her! Sink play is another good idea. She was even afraid of having her hands washed for a while, but has been tolerating it recently. I wonder how she'd react if we tried "sneaking" the full bathtub up on her, as it were, the way you describe it...she hates the shower too but maybe it is about the water coming from above, less control? Anyway, lots of good suggestions. Thank you!
Just in case someone is looking at this thread at some point looking for help on a similar issue, I can update with the info that DD has had her first real bath without screaming last Sunday night. About two months ago, I had to shower her off after a major poop incident and while she was screaming and trying to climb the walls of the tub, it wasn't the fullblown panic of before (be grateful for small things...). Four weeks ago, she consented to at least stand in the tub with water around her ankles while DS played and DH showered her off, a few days ago, her DCP reported that she recently seemed to enjoy water play and this Sunday, I asked her to sit down in the tub and she did it! She was still obviously distrustful, but I immediately threw in interesting toys and she and DS played happily for several minutes. I mean, just like normal! We even took pictures. I am so proud of having a clean toddler again (minus the hair, we didn't want to psh our luck...). This makes it over 9 months of water phobia, and it simply went away on its own.