My Toddler Started Refusing Bath - But I found a Solution

It happened all of a sudden: one night, my 2 year old toddler was refusing bath, for no apparent reason! I thought she was just tired or in a bad mood but it continued for some time until I started analyzing the situation and came up with a few simple things that actually WORKED! :) 

To start with, she was not always very keen on it, but she suddenly hated bath time and then we had bath time tantrums even before bath.


My toddler suddenly hates bath

I am not sure if it was actually sudden. She startled when water went over her eyes. I did not really pay attention at first because I thought the shampoo is one of those special "no tears" that is for babies so it should not really hurt. But the problem was not just the shampoo, it was the fact that water is over her face: she panicked! And I could not think of a solution at the time. 
I was not sure if she does not like the sensation of the water over her face, or the water going into her eyes, t might be both.
So, I bought one of those hair visors to avoid water going into her eyes (sometimes they call it an eye shield). I got 3 colors for her to choose, however, she hated the damn thing, and we never actually used it despite me trying many times and demonstrating, and playing with it during the day. She just would not wear it!

Close your eyes
Visors I got but never used

I know you played peek-a-boo with your baby, I did too. However, when I first started teaching her the phrase "close your eyes" while she was screaming during bath, guess what: it didn't work. I had to go to the basics of teaching: teach them when they are in a good mood to learn or receive information, then use this later. Things started to get better when she actually understood what I mean when I ask her to close her eyes and look up (so that the water does not go into her eyes as I washed her hair).


Fear of bath

One of the things that helped is when I started talking to other parents and reading online and found out it is completely normal for children to refuse bath at some point due to many different reasons.
I analyzed the situation and decided that there were a few reasons for this:


  • Sometimes she was too tired or sleepy.
  • Sometimes I didn't prepare her for bath time because I WAS tired, I just said it is bath time and took her there. Not a good idea.
  • She was scared. 
I thought about the last point, I noticed that she is not disgusted, or annoyed, she was "panicking". So I thought the best solution is for me to be with her and help her go through this together, so I jumped in bath with her. We got wet together, it was fun and she liked it!

This actually helped for about a week or so but it was not always possible, and it actually stopped working after a while. 


Dealing with the bath refusal - how to make it fun

This was the actual game changer for my daughter, and it is such a simple -even silly- idea. She is suddenly refusing bath for some reason. I thought about ways to try and make it more fun. I tried to create a song and a dance that is special for bath time. I bought those plastic ducks and a few other toys that can go into the bath tub. It only worked for a couple of nights and we were back to square one.

I was disappointed because a few other mom told me that this made a difference with their kids, but I kept trying. A friend also told me about bubble baths that her kid enjoys but I have not tried it.

Game changer

I try new toys and books all the time with my daughter (tip: try charity shops for cheap used books!) and recently noticed she LOVES stickers. I have no idea why but kids seem to like stickers on their books, their arms, their clothes, everywhere.

I found those cool stickers that can work on any smooth surface whether it is wet or dry and started by trying a few of them on the tiles to see if she would play with them while taking the bath. It was amazing! She instantly loved them, I bought ones about pirates and every week or two I would 2 more stickers to keep it interesting. 

We create stories with them, we laugh and we enjoy bath time much more than before. I found plenty of them with different themes and now she runs to the bathroom every time I ask her to take a bath. Many times she would not even leave the bathroom.

Please don't think it is a magical solution. I still have to go into bath with her sometimes. She still cries sometimes and some days refuses bath. However, things are much better than before.

bath stickers on tiles
A few stickers from the collection

Close up on one of the stickers

 

So to summarize, here are my top tips if you have a toddler refusing bath:

  • Create a routine, there should not be surprises and you should start preparing and reminding your child at least 10-15 minutes before going to take a bath. 
  • Try to avoid situations when they are too tired/too hungry.
  • Make sure they are comfortable (not too cold/warm).
  • Reduce the water level.
  • Make it exciting and fun by showing them that bath time is cool.
  • Go into bath with them. Let them see you close your eyes while pouring water on your head so they can learn.
  • Teach them what it means to close your eyes.
  • Get them some toys that they find interesting. For my daughter, this was a sticker set. For other kids it might be something else.
  • Bath toys should only be used for bath, they should not take it and play with it outside (or at least not all of them). 
  • Try a bath song. I don't know what are your screen time restrictions at home but I try to limit it as much as possible. I tried a Youtube video of a song that my child liked and it helped a few times.
Here is a nice song that I tried a few times that she liked:


I hope you found this helpful. Please let me know in the comments if you have tried any of the above or anything else. What worked with your toddler?

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