Splish, splash toddler’s taking a bath. Some little ones love their daily dip, but there are other kiddos who’d much rather just keep swimming right on past the bath.
If you have a toddler who screams blue murder come bath time, you’re most certainly not alone. Your tot may have been a bath lover for their entire short life, and then one day the bubble bursts and they want nothing to do with a scrub-a-dub-dub.
We asked the Mum’s Grapevine community to give us their top tips when it comes to banishing bathtime fears, so here are 15 tried, tested and mum-approved ways to get toddlers loving bath time again.
“Maybe put swimmers on him and go for a swim? Make fun out of water then move back to showering. If it means you’ve to sponge bathe them for a bit I’m sure it’ll be worth it. My daughter went through this so I’d pick her up and bring her into the shower with me. This is how we warmed her into washing her hair also (she hates wetting her hair/head).” – Whitney Smith
Raise the level
“Both of my boys went through this. We ended up letting them choose a new bath toy and put only enough water in to cover their feet and wash them with a cloth. Then slowly put more water in each time.” – Rachel Barnett
Skip a day
“My daughter went through this at about one. Went from loving the bath to being hysterical at going anywhere near it and we couldn’t figure out why. The health centre nurse suggested just giving her a wash every second day and we went back to the baby bath for a week or so. Then we put the baby bath in the big bath for a few days then removed the baby bath and things went back to normal and now you’d never no she thinks she’s a mermaid.” – Rachael Lee
“My little one went through the same thing. Hated the water one day. We tried everything we could think of: I got in with him, showers, no bath toys, new bath toys, all the toys. None of it helped. What worked? Bubbles.” – Erin Sterland
In the basket
“Try a washing basket in the bath. He/she could sit in there and just fill it up a little above the bottom. That way he/she will feel safe. And put a bath toy in there with them. Maybe even put like a wheel on it so they think they are driving a boat?” – Dannielle Yorkhunt
Too hot or too cold?
“We had this problem with miss 2.5 not long ago. We didn’t push the issue and went a few nights with out bathing. We worked out she was scared the water was too hot (don’t recall an incident with hot water) so we let her test the water, get into shower without water running on her until she was ready.” – Natalie Taylor
Find the fear
“My son went through this, we worked out he was scared of the plug hole. We bought one of those sticky mats and covered it up, didn’t empty the bath in front of him and he was fine.” – Alicia Whetton
Give up control
“We went through this. Bathed in a little laundry basin on the bathroom floor for a while, then got bath crayons and played the ‘let’s throw toys in the bath game’ until it looked so fun he got back in. First bath back in was standing up. What also helped was him attempting to shove toys down the shower plug hole while I showered and talking about how people don’t fit. Don’t turn it into a fight, give them plenty of control around the bath (What toys? Bubbles /no bubbles?), just work around it til it passes.” – Joanne Eckermann
Take it outside
“Use a baby bath outside like a paddle pool.” – Brigette Wagner
Eliminate the cause
“Did you start swimming lessons? Does you baby have any skin conditions that sting in the water? Try something fun like a paddling pool full of balls or something so it doesn’t look like a bath. See if u get the same reaction.” – Hayley Baker
Turn up the fun
“Put some food dye in there and maybe some bubbles. How could any kid resist ?” – Pamela Walsh
“All four of mine went through this stage. What helped was different for each kid and to an extent they just had to outgrow it, but I tried to make it fun. My best help was squirt toys – rinsing them down with a rubber ducky that squirted water through it’s mouth or similar toy. Let them squirt you back too. It’s a mess but it helps.” – Mandy Jo Hubbard
Take a stand
“One of my twins went through this too. Kept bathing him standing up, gently encouraging him. It took about two weeks and he loves the bath again.” – Danielle Woodberry
Salt of the earth
“My daughter went through this too. Loved baths then one week screamed at the sight of them. We just had to do quick baths for a few weeks till she worked through it. I started putting Epsom salts in her bath and letting her get handfuls out of the bag and hold it under the running water.” – Corisse Howard
Pick your battles
“My kids have hated it too. The kids only bathe one to two times a week. I wash their hands and face before bed each night with a washer. I make them have one and usually once they are playing with toys (a basketball ring in the bath solved our issues) they sometimes don’t want to come out. Laundry trough also worked better for us. I think they felt safer in a smaller space.” – Clare Dullard
Toddlers will usually grow out of any fear for the bath, but if you find the situation is stretching on, it’s best to mention it to your healthcare nurse or GP in case there’s an underlying issue.
Now that your little one is loving bath time again, here are some tips to keep those bath toys squeaky clean.