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Two issues in 20-month-old, bath and meltdowns

(12 Posts)
flyingcloud Wed 19-Oct-11 09:37:36

Am really at the end of my tether.

DD has, in the last three weeks, starting having meltdowns - with me only. She never cries with her cm or with dh. One morning I woke her up and she cried - proper snot, drool, etc, for 40 mins before settling down to have her breakfast (by which time we were really rushing). Another evening she fell asleep in the car on our way home from cm and when I woke her up on arrival we had the same thing. She sat on my lap for 40 mins crying hysterically.

Now she has started doing it more regularly and usually triggered by something that she doesn't like, but not always. She is inconsolable and I can't do anything until she calms down. I try talking to her and she sobs back at me. She seems really sad and these don't seem to be tantrums. She clings to me, asks for her dummy (a rare thing) and her comfort blanket. I thought that it was tiredness/changing weather etc, but the last four evenings she has done this, before snapping out of it, eating a huge supper and then refusing to go to sleep. hmm

I have been on my own for the last four days and every day is worse and worse. I am at the end of my tether and usually end up crying too (made worse by the fact that I am 23wks pregnant, hormonal and permanently exhausted and possibly a little depressed).

The other issue is fear of the bath. DD went through a bad patch at 10 months old which was resolved by me bathing with her for a few nights. This came back over the summer - we had moved house and have no bath, and she is terrified of the shower so we put her back in the baby bath. She went through phases this summer of being terrified. These phases have gradually got longer and worse. For the last 2.5 months she refuses to get in the bath (cue meltdowns, see above). We can just about sponge her down but have reduced this to twice a week as it's just too stressful for all of us.
We have tried - bathing her with friends (she screamed and cried, upsetting her friends). Paddling pool outside - fine as long as she doesn't have to get into it. I think the original fear came from the shower/having water in her eyes, which both DH and MIL insisted on, despite my objections. I know it is normal for toddlers to have a fear of the bath at one stage or another, but cm and others have said they have never seen it so bad.

Any help or suggestions greatly appreciated...

flyingcloud Wed 19-Oct-11 11:36:47

Sorry for the bump.

oldmum42 Wed 19-Oct-11 13:04:37

Sorry your having a tough time of it.

Not sure what to advice re the meltdowns, but I have some suggestions/advice about the baths.

Twice a week is fine, don't feel pressured to do it daily.

Is the bath warm enough - I know my DS4 screams if he's put in a bath of the "correct" temperature. He wants it to be properly warm, not tepid (obviously care needs to be taken that it's not too hot).

What are you using to bath/sponge her with? try an organic baby bath/shampoo, as these don't have harsh drying chemicals in them, which can cause itchy tight skin (which would not really be visible). Johnstones baby shampoo, the big brand is choc full of nasties, for example. So, maybe discomfort during/after the bath is part of the issue.

Also, the sponge! Synthetic sponges, can feel very rough on sensitive skin (even as an adult, I can't use a sponge, it make me itch, but a flannel is ok)

I suggest trying to get her into a nice warm bath, not deep, some bubbles, a couple of bath toys (not easy I know), then make NO attempt to bath her face or hair, just get her to sit in it a few mins, try and engage her with the toys. Then just lift her out and dry her off. Repeat, and see if you can build up from that.
Leave the showers for a few years - none of mine would shower until they were 6 or 7, they hated the constant flow of water over them.

Octaviapink Wed 19-Oct-11 13:26:24

A few suggestions on the bath:

I would stand firm in the face of MIL and DH - if she REALLY doesn't want baths then she doesn't have to have them. DD went through a terror of hairwashing for a few months at that age and we used dry shampoo on her with lots of hairbrushing morning and night as well as keeping her hair short. Give her a wash down with a flannel next to the sink twice a week.

We also didn't have a bath in the house until recently but we bought a plug for the showertray and we used to fill that up and let DD have a bath in that. It only takes a few inches but it was enough for her to have fun and to get clean all over. We also used to bath her in the sink (though our sink is big). The showertray is also useful if you want her to get used to playing with the water - she can sit outside it and stay safely dry while playing in it.

On the meltdowns:
Are they often triggered by being woken up/ waking up? You say you have to wake her in the mornings - could you do it in a different way, eg switching on the light outside her room and letting the light wake her, rather than going in? She probably also senses your hormonal state and may be picking up on your own tearfulness, as well as sensing that things are going to be changing.

flyingcloud Wed 19-Oct-11 13:57:24

Oh - thanks for you replies - it's reassuring to have someone to share these problems with.

We can't get her in to the bath. full stop! She wraps her legs around us and screams. The (rented) house we are in has no suitable sinks either. I think the shower tray might be an idea but ours is very, very shallow. We have nearly always used organic stuff in the bath - but recently I have used Johnsons bubble bath (as it made good bubbles and she does like putting her hand in the bubbles and washing me). So I will revert to organic stuff. We really need a bath of our own though if she could get in with me it would be a help.

The meltdowns seemed to be triggered by waking up - but no longer are. They are triggered by pretty much anything that upsets her.

Where do I get dry shampoo from?

seaweed74 Wed 19-Oct-11 21:03:37

Hello. We moved house a month ago and my DD was terrified of the new bathroom. It was pretty horrifying the way she held on to me, screaming with terror. DD had always been fabulous in the bath and shower. Her favourite game in the bath is having water poured over her head and regularly showered with me. In our previous house we didn't have a bath. DD was bathed in a collapsable plastic bath designed to be used up till 4 years of age. Before she got so splashy in the bath i used to bath her in the lounge!

Anyway we have no problems now with bath or shower again. We reduced bath to every 2/3 days (DD is very messy) and just insisted she went in, very quick wash, I sang few favourite songs whilst washing at speed and then removed her. Two weeks later she was only nervous for first minute. Now fine.

Maybe you need to take baby steps with your DD. Perhaps just few inches of water in bath to quickly wash body. Dry shampoo can be found in chemists. Also maybe think about bath in front of favourite TV programme as distraction?

My DD often cried for ages after waking from naps. Wierd as no problem in mornings. If time allowed I just held her on my knee, cuddling and waiting for it to stop. Rarely happens now, but if she is rushed to do something other than have a cuddle after nap, tears will follow. Think DD just needs bit of quiet time.

Don't know if any of that will help!! Good luck

Iggly Wed 19-Oct-11 21:10:35

Could she be hungry when she wakes up? Why do you wake her in the mornings-what's her natural wake up time?

DS gets upset on waking - he's hungry and thirst most of the time. So I go in with his beaker, he has a drink, then give a snack.

Bath time could be similar - what time does she go to bed? Do you have time to wind down? DS goes mad at bathtime if he's tired - when I'm around. Kids tend to do this with their mums - you give them comfort, they hold it all in until you're there then the floodgates open. I saw a kid being picked up from nursery today and he burst into tears when his mum arrived - it was like he could finally relax after a busy day!

flyingcloud Thu 20-Oct-11 06:33:55

Seaweed, thanks. We have tried all your suggestions re bath, but 2.5 months on are having no results. We've done weeks with only one bath or none.

We've tried doing the bath in the mornings, at weekends, not a whole lot better.

Iggly, her sleep pattern varies from 10-12 hours at night. I have to wake her as otherwise we'd never be out the door in time. The meltdowns arent restricted to wake up times.

Iggly Thu 20-Oct-11 12:14:39

She could be tired regardless (DS has meltdowns throughout the day when he's not having enough sleep in general) - I wondered if you could put her to bed earlier say around 7 (I dont know what time you do put her to bed).

cottonreels Fri 21-Oct-11 16:00:16

had only a quick read but she sounds over tired to me (despite not wanting to go to bed). Maybe change nap times or give her some rest time in addition (read a few books on bed in semi darkened room for 20 mins then let he ger back up again).
Bath- try lovely warm water with bubbles in kitchen sink, dont undress, let her sit on the side and splash her feet in it, dip her legs in etc, just enjoy it without expectations that its a wash. Encourage her to sit in it by getting her to reach a toy thats fallen in, on another occasion.

AngelDog Fri 21-Oct-11 22:19:23

If you are having to wake her in the morning, that's probably a sign that she's not getting enough sleep (as is dropping off in the car on the way home). It sounds like an earlier bedtime might help. Her crying sounds like my DS when he's tired / overtired.

Lack of sleep can be caused by developmental factors too.

flyingcloud Sat 22-Oct-11 21:50:49

Thanks, unfortunately I can't do a whole lot about it. I can't force her to sleep any more than she does. The cm says she's not a great day time napper (never has been) and as I have to work she has to fit into my routine sadly. Wish it wasn't so but it is for the time being. Until we get a nanny anyway.

In saying all that she has been an angel for the last three days and DH has returned from his work trip. She only ever behaves like this with me....

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