Dealing With a Reluctant Bather

Most of the time, little kids love baths. There’s bubbles and toys and parents and water! What’s not to love? Well, some kids don’t love baths for one reason or another, and helping them get over that aversion can take some creative parenting.

Keeping a No-Baths Kid Clean

Even if your toddler absolutely refuses to go in the tub you’ve still got to keep him or her reasonably clean. Maintain basic hygiene with regular hand and face wiping and a daily or every other day sponge bath. Fill a sink or basin with warm soapy water and wash your baby or toddler with a washcloth, starting at the top and working down to legs and feet, leaving the diaper area for last. You can even remove clothes gradually and replace them when that area is done if being fully undressed is part of what your child dislikes about bathing.

Let Them Play Bath

Play is a very effective strategy for helping children work through fears, anxieties, aversions and other difficult emotions. To help a child play through fears or a dislike of bath time, let her play with a baby bath filled part way with warm soapy water, placed either outside, if the weather is warm enough, or on a few towels on the bathroom or kitchen floor. She can play with stacking cups, set boats afloat or give a favourite dolly a bath, all from the safety of outside the bath. Eventually you can transfer bath play back to the big tub when your child is comfortable with baths again.

Comfort is Key

If your child is old enough to communicate, try to find out what he doesn’t like about baths. Is the soap going in his eyes? Feeling shivery when he gets out? Maybe it’s being scrubbed with a washcloth? If possible, try to do what you can to ensure your child is comfortable in the bath. Try washing his hair with a soapy washcloth instead of lathering up the shampoo and pouring water over his head to rinse it off. Maybe turning the thermostat up a degree or two makes a difference. Sometimes what seems like a little thing to adults can be a big deal to kids, so try to put yourself in your child’s perspective and sleuth out what might be causing the discomfort.

A child refusing to do what you’re asking them to do can be one of the most frustrating things about parenting, especially if you can’t understand why they’re refusing. In most cases though, refusals generally stem from a child wanting to feel loved, important and safe. She may want more of your presence and help getting dressed, or she may feel anxious about going down the drain when the water goes out. Whatever the case, try to help as much as you can while making sure she stays clean with regular sponge baths.

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