10 Tips to help when your child hates bath time! Solutions for kids who are afraid of the bath, afraid of getting water in their eyes, or who just don’t like bath time in general. Real solutions from real parents.
Does your child hate bath time? If you answered “yes”, you’re not alone! It’s one of the more common parenting challenges that my readers ask about.
While many kids love the bath, there are others who simply do not.
What’s to hate about bath time?
Often, it’s because kids are afraid of getting water in their eyes, or they hate having their hair washed. Perhaps they’ve slipped and accidentally gone underwater and that’s left them shaken. Sometimes all it takes is one bad experience in the tub to turn them off.
Whatever the reason, if your child hates bath time it can super-stressful for you and your little one, so I’ve called on my Facebook community for their tried and true solutions.
Hopefully, with these ideas, a little patience and a whole lot of love, your little one will be splashing happily in the tub in no time.
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10 Tips To Help When Your Child Hates Bath Time:
- Invest in a bath-time visor: This bath visor is a simple and inexpensive solution for kids who don’t like getting water in the eyes when they’re getting their hair washed.
- Goggles to keep bathwater out of their eyes: Let your child wear googles or even a swimsuit to make it more like “pool” time than “bath” time. These goggles are great because they stay put and they won’t get tangled in your child’s hair.
- Magic Wash Cloth: Buy a special washcloth – one that’s fun and that will appeal to your child. Keep it handy so your child can wipe away splashes when they need to and hold it over their eyes when you’re washing/rinsing their hair. You can find some fun washcloths here.
- Glow-bracelets for the bath tub: Drop several glow bracelets into the bath and dim the lights. This makes things so fun that your child may even start ASKING for a bath! (NOTE: Remain close to your child at bath time and especially so if the lighting is dim).
- Dolls in the tub: Kids LOVE giving their dolls a bath and washing their babies’ hair! Give them a small bottle of watered down shampoo, a baby wash-cloth and comb, and let your child give her own baby a bath. You’ll find some great dolls for the tub here.
- Blow bubbles in the bathtub! I’ve never met a child who isn’t fascinated by bubbles! They can be a great distraction for a child who doesn’t like being in the bath. Bonus: you won’t have to worry about spills because your child is already sitting in soapy water. These mini bubble wands and bottles all in one are great.
- Transition your child to the bath tub: Start by giving your child a sponge bath in the sink for a few weeks. Next, transition to a sponge bath in an empty bath tub (instead of a sink). Then, a few days later, add a minimal amount of water to the tub. Do this until they are comfortable sitting in the water. After a week or two, you will have transitioned to a “normal” bath.
- Change the time of bath time: If bath time normally takes place in the evening, before bed, your child might be more receptive to a daytime bath. Try a morning or afternoon splash.
- Add colour to your kids’ bath water: Make bath time extra-fun with a few drops of food colouring or with Crayola Bath-time Colour Tablets. Toss in a few coordinating toys (blue water with sea animals for example) for your child to play with too. You can switch up the colours and the toys with every bath.
- Make bath time “art time”: Crayola Fingerpaint Soap or Bathtub Crayons make bath time SO much fun! Kids may just forget about their fears and apprehensions if they’re allowed to draw on the walls.
And finally, you may want to consider, skipping the bath altogether; it’s possible that your child may enjoy a shower much more than taking a bath.
Books for Kids Who Hate the Bath:
More solutions to common parenting issues:
- How to Wean Your Child Off the Pacifier
- When Your Child Hates the Car Seat
- When Your Child Won’t Poop On The Potty
- When Your Baby Won’t Take a Bottle
- Toddler Biting – How to Stop it
- How To Keep A Toddler’s Diaper On at Nap Time
Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
What happens if they don’t like the shower either?
Then I would try some of the other suggestions in the article, Cody. The doll and the bath crayons are usually very popular.
You can create a “bird” bath at the kitchen sink. With dry shampoo if needed.
Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom
My youngest daughter detests getting her hair washed. We’ve tried visors, a sticker on the ceiling for her to look at, and even swim goggles. I hate to admit it but she only bathes once a week because of her anxiety surrounding bath time. It’s stressful for everyone involved.
I might try to bathe her more frequently but do hair washing less and see if we can get her comfortable with it again.
Thanks for these tips!
Ugh. It’s so stressful! She’ll eventually get over it, I’m sure. Hopefully one of these tips will help. I’d try the doll in the bath – give her a small washcloth and a shampoo bottle filled with soapy water. You might find that she loves bathing her own baby so much that she forgets her anxiety.
I had the same issue so we did bath with no hair wash to separate the 2. She now realised she doesn’t hate baths, just hair washing. We probably only wash hair once or twice a week but at least the rest of her is clean!
Also getting her to lie back in the bath to wash hair so she’s in control has helped.
Oh. How smart are you? Separating the two is brilliant! Thanks for the great suggestion.
Dry shampoo is quite handy.
My youngest son would scream ( water wasnt to hot or cold) he just hated the bath once we moved to our new home ( he was 7 months old) It popped in my head to hold him and take one together after a few times he was fine venturing into the water not holding onto me and now more then happy to take a bath with his brother or by himself.
We use your Ivory soap recipe and then crumble it into the bath from high up to make it “snow”. Instant “Frozen” bath time!
Yay! That’s such a fun idea! So nice to know you like our Ivory experiment too!
Getting in the tub together can help a lot and usually will do the trick. Easier if you have a helper to hand to baby when you are in the tub! If they are very young swaddle in a towel and just unwrap and wash one body part at a time! Goes without saying to watch water temperature! Sometimes works to lie child on kitchen counter (can wrap in towel for more security) on back and wash hair in sink with gentle sprayer! Lining tub with towel makes child feel more secure and not so slippery! Play and make it fun! Even rubber duckies!
My baby hates bath time, its a nightmare, I might try to bath her more frequently but do hair washing less and see if we can get her comfortable with it again.
This is not coming from a parent but from a swim instructor and lifeguard. For the most part if kids don’t like getting their faces wet at bath time, they won’t like it at the pool either. So if that is particularly the issue I would advise taking the harder road and introducing them to the concept of getting water in their eyes gently but firmly. You can start with a cup and gently pour it over their face, reminding them to “blow out” and and that they don’t breathe through their ears, hair or eyes. (So in other words, Just have them blow bubbles like they would a a birthday candle.) Start slowly and let them cry it out. If they swallow water, they’ll cough it up. They might even puke some food up with it but they’ll live and it’s not hard to clean up. (OK, lifeguards have strong stomachs, admittedly. We clean up bodily fluids frequently.)
Half the time it’s just a power-struggle and the other half of the time, it’s just fear. But fear is something you have to approach head-on to defeat and bathing is a necessity. Just give lots of positive reinforcement and try to avoid any negative reinforcement such as, “you’re going to go to bed early if you don’t let me wash your hair”. If it’s a fear, the message they’re getting is really that they’re not allowed to have fears or that you have no patience to help them with their fears. It then becomes a trust issue across the board for the rest of their lives. And remember, at 3 it’s washing hair but if they don’t trust you at 17, it might be sex, bullying or drugs they won’t approach you about.
If it’s a power struggle, they just might decide that the high-five, extra fives minutes to play a video game or extra cookie is worth giving up the power. Adding toys or goggles, even their favourite swimsuit, as they progressively improve would work too. (Or at least you could actually take their picture if they had on a swimsuit!) 🙂
If you can make it seem like their idea, or make the alternatives worse while giving them that choice, then that might work too. (“If you don’t want to take a shower, that’s fine but you’re only other option is *fill in the blank with something they’re not used to and would probably hate more”.) If all else fails, sign them up for swim lessons and insist that the instructor dunk them for bobs no matter how much they cry.
Trust me, once they get water in their eyes even just once, they’re fine. It doesn’t take a lot for them to realize that it’s just water. And this will help you with swim lessons or pool time as well. Being able to stand water in your face is life skill, to be honest. The older you are before you acquire it, the harder it is to acquire.
Any other questions about fear of water, feel free to send my way. I’m not qualified to offer parenting advice. The above listed things have been a success with me.
FORTUNATLY,WE DONT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT BATH TIME HASSLES! oUR DAUGHTER IS 13 AND NEWLY ADOPTED 3 MONTHS AGO AND LIKES TAKING A BATH BEFORE BEDTIME.sHE IS A BEDWETTER,SO WHILE SHE IS IN THE TUB,I LAY OUT HER CLOTH DIAPERS AND RUBBERPANTS ON HER BED.WHEN SHE IS DONE WITH HER BATH,SHE LAYS DOWN ON THE DIAPERS AND I GIVE HER A MILD RUB DOWN WITH BABY LOTION,THEN POWDER HER THEN PIN THE DIAPERS ON,THEN PUT THE RUBBERPANTS OVER THEM AND THEN HER NIGHTGOWN GOES ON AND ITS INTO BED.
Thanks so much for the helpful post! My son has down syndrome and is 3 months old today. I have been trying to figure out what to get him for Chritmas for weeks now. I can’t wait to try some of your suggestions!
When it’s bath time my son starts crying and I need some tips to deal with that. I’ll definitely, try some of those tips.