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Bath Time Fears

A toddler’s bath time can often result in more water being on the floor than in the tub! For some toddlers the word bath or the sound of the taps running evokes fear and can bring them to tears, while others may refuse to take a bath when they reach their second year of life. Some reasons toddlers may be scared of the bath include:

  • Noise from the drain when the water is emptying
  • Fear of slipping under the water
  • Falling down the drain hole, as they don’t yet understand size
  • Dislike of having their hair washed
  • Worried about getting soap in their eyes.

Here are a few tips that can help make bath time easier and result in a fresh, clean and happy toddler:

  • Try a progressive method of slowly introducing them to baths. E.g. start by putting them in an empty bath and sponge them with warm water. Once they get used to this begin to add a few centimetres of water to the bath, encourage them to sit in the water and slowly increase the amount
  • Have a bath with your toddler or give them a bath with their siblings to show them that it can be enjoyable. You can also make them feel safe by sitting them between your legs or on your lap
  • Use a bath seat or non-slip mat or stickers on the bottom of the bath to help your toddler sit in the bath and ease their worries about slipping under the water
  • Take your toddler out of the bath before you pull out the plug, so they won’t get scared of the gurgling noise when the water goes down the drain
  • Try a toddler shampoo, if they don’t like getting their hair washed, as this is gentle on their eyes. Some children may also find it fun to wear swimming goggles when they get their hair washed
  • Use bubbles as a distraction. Besides being fun, the bubbles can disguise the water. Be generous with bubbles in the beginning and as your toddler becomes less scared you can reduce the amount of bubbles you put in
  • Have special toys just for bath time. Playing with your toddler in the bath makes it fun and a yellow ducky or boat can help to ease their fears
  • Change up their bathing schedule. If you bathe your little one at the same time every day, they learn to expect it. Try giving them one at a different time of the day. You may find they prefer their bath in the morning when they’re not tired and cranky
  • Try having a shower instead. If you’ve tried everything you can think of and they’re still scared of bath time, have a go at taking them in the shower with you. Have the water on a gentle flow and hold your toddler close until they feel confident to stand under the shower

It is important to recognise that if your toddler has a genuine fear of the bath, take this seriously and do not to force them when they become upset. Remember to be prepared by having everything you need within arm’s reach. Always be near and never leave your toddler unattended in the bath.

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