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20 month old with a fear of water that's getting worse

(17 Posts)
PandaFeet Wed 09-Jul-14 23:10:34

I have googled this and can only find results about a sudden fear of the bath around 18-24 months.

DD2 has never been keen on baths, from about 6 months she cried everytime. We took her swimming when she was around 9 months and she didn't cry, but she was very detached, wouldn't look at the water, wouldn't put her hand in the water etc. Because of the screaming at bath time getting worse we haven't taken her back swimming.

Recently she won't even go into the bathroom, if her older sister is having a bath she runs away saying "no way no way". We went to a fish shop the other day and she was looking into the open tanks saying "ok ok ok ok" which is what she says if she's worried or scared. As a side note, her talking has been very slow but she has more words now.

Now if I try to give her a bath she just screams, its blood curdling. We have tried toys, tried putting her in with her sister, and even tried just running the shower over her legs.

I hate having her so distressed and we have cut right back on baths to once a week, with me just wiping her with a sponge in the mornings instead.

Any one else experienced this? Or anyone have any ideas of how we could help her?

Goldmandra Wed 09-Jul-14 23:16:15

I've not come across a generalised fear of water before but I would suggest stopping bathing her altogether. Every time you force it you could be reinforcing her fear.

The best strategy for children who are scared of the bath is usually to stop making them bath and then leaving things for a while until they start to develop a curiosity about water.

How is she with water play in a sink or washing up bowl, perhaps with bubble or food colouring?

PandaFeet Wed 09-Jul-14 23:21:05

Mmm. Haven't tried that, but I will.

She also hates bouncy castles and any of those rides that they have in shopping centres.

IamSlave Wed 09-Jul-14 23:24:57

Childrens fear and likes ebb and flow all the time at this age which is why I always advocate leaving them and never ever forcing them, this goes for teeth too.

I have gone through this and just backed off...leave it a while, gently try and see what happens, small children do not need a bath every night...

totally back off....I am sure in a few weeks you will be pleasantly surprised.

AnyaKnowIt Wed 09-Jul-14 23:29:39

Did went through this stage, couldn't tell you want caused it.

She is 3 now and still have the screaming went she goes in, then screams when it time to get out hmm

No help, but you're not alone

PandaFeet Wed 09-Jul-14 23:29:47

Oh I don't bath every night, their skin wouldn't take it. With the older one its usually every other night because she's at school, but with DD2 I would like it to be twice a week. But I will stop completely and see what happens because the last time I tried it was sheer terror for her and I had to abandon it.

Luckytwo Wed 09-Jul-14 23:31:31

I had one who didn't like baths but had fun running in and out of the shower. We had a separate shower cubicle, would turn it on and he would get in and out as he pleased. It was a big messy with wafer flying everywhere but he got over the water fear eventually.hes now a strapping 16 year old who is a fantastic swimmer too.

Waltonswatcher Wed 09-Jul-14 23:33:32

Quite normal in our house when dd was the same age . For one summer I bathed her in a tiny paddling pool in the garden when ever she was affable , most nights she had a sink strip wash . It was awful because the suncream sometimes needs a good soak off! We gently got her to wash in a small bowl on the side, then moved that nearer to the bath each time - eventually she and the bowl were in a dry bath and we finally ended up back to normal .
Forcing wont work .
Good luck!

deakymom Wed 09-Jul-14 23:34:04

unfortunately my eldest screamed at bath time for years i finally got over it by making him set a good example for his baby brother who is going the same way and freaking out at water! have you tried a paddling pool? outdoor water play helped me get my son clean for a few summers!

PandaFeet Wed 09-Jul-14 23:36:18

We have a paddling pool but haven't even had a chance to get it out as every good day we have had stuff to do out of the house. But I do wonder how she will react when we do put it up and she sees her sister and the neighbours kids in it.

Goldmandra Wed 09-Jul-14 23:51:07

But I do wonder how she will react when we do put it up and she sees her sister and the neighbours kids in it.

When you do this, don't allow anyone to make the slightest suggestion to her that she should get in or interact with it in any way. Just allow her to make her own mind up in her own time. If she chooses not to touch it that is fine because she might next time.

Whatever you do, don't encourage her at all or even talk about it to her. Just put it up and let the other children enjoy it in front of her.

PandaFeet Thu 10-Jul-14 16:40:53

Yes, I see what you mean. I will just leave it up to her.

doziedoozie Thu 10-Jul-14 16:46:00

What about sitting on the edge of the kitchen sink with feet in basin, (like in the old days) she can stand up to wash bottom etc, put in as much or as little water as she will accept. Can dabble her hands. Mum beside her at all times of course.

LindaMcCartneySausage Thu 10-Jul-14 16:46:44

I have no experience re water phobia, but you mention that your DD also hates bouncy castles and rides at the supermarket and it got me wondering if she had an inner ear problem.

I know an adult who has this - his ears are agony in water and he gets terribly motion sick due to the inner ear dealing with balance. He can't go in a small boat or fairground ride. I wonder if the fear of water is because she is in pain and water in and around her ears hurts her? Only a guess, but maybe you could get her ears checked at the GP? Is her balance ok?

WeeClype Thu 10-Jul-14 16:52:33

My DS (age 2) went thru a phase of hating the bath, I also went down to bathing him once a week as it was causing too much distress hmm

One day he started playing with the wee scoops that come with formula in the kitchen sink so the next bath time I asked him if he wanted the scoops in the bath.....it worked a treat and he played for ages, still not fully sitting but at least he was in and not crying. When he goes in the bath now I don't even attempt to wash his hair I just damp it down with some water. I do get him to help wash his baby sisters hair and he enjoys that.

Little by little I've started saying "can you sit in the bath" or "can you swim in the bath"

PandaFeet Thu 10-Jul-14 16:59:17

The inner ear thing is strange. When she was born they couldn't test her right ear properly because it had fluid in it, and even when we went back a week later they still couldn't so they had to test her inner ear.

Then when she had chicken pox at easter, she ended up in hospital but the one thing that was really bad was her ear.

I will make an appointment with the doc I think, just to be sure. Her balance is ok to me, but then I'm not sure I have a good idea of normal as my oldest fell over a lot as a toddler due to her foot turning in and being hypermobile. Dd2 does fall over from standing a lot.

She also likes to make herself dizzy, which leads to falling over. grin

LindaMcCartneySausage Thu 10-Jul-14 17:06:31

Sounds like it is worth crossing off the inner ear thing with a visit to the GP.

In the meantime your DD might enjoy skiddling - good old Scottish word meaning to mess about with, not in, water. Food colouring in trays of water and watering cans etc for her to skiddle in grin

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