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11mo suddenly hates the bath - and I mean really hates it

(27 Posts)
rootypig Thu 17-Oct-13 04:01:15

11mo DD always loved the bath, until a month ago, when (seemingly) overnight she became what seems like terrified. She screams as soon as she is taken into the bathroom and stops as soon as she is taken out of the bath and the room. Getting in with her and holding her doesn't help. Holding her and showering equally bad. She seems to be distressed even by the sound of running water or toilet flushing.

A couple of other details that may or may not be relevant (I am trying to turn every stone!): the change coincided with a big move, across the world, though we had travelled with her a fair bit before that. It also coincided with her learning to crawl well. Around the same time she started holding her ears a lot, though every doctor I've talked to says not an ear infection as she has no temp and doesn't seem to be in pain. She has absolutely no problem with the pool.

Has this happened to anyone else? any ideas why? ideas for how to build her confidence? She plays outside a lot (we live in a hot place) and is still crawling so really needs to be bathed regularly, at least every other night as a bare minimum (to do her hair, I sponge bath her otherwise).

KalevalaForMePlease Thu 17-Oct-13 04:46:07

My DD did this, around the same age. DH does bath time, and he just ploughed through it mostly. We experimented with different things, like having a little bit of water, or a lot, having lots of bubbles, doing lots of water play during the day with a tub outside filled with water and toys. Blowing bubbles when she's in the bath could help as well. She's 18 months now and loves the bath again, so it could just be a phase. Good luck!

Goldmandra Thu 17-Oct-13 07:57:13

This is relatively common and there rarely seems to be a good identifiable reason behind it.

Stop trying to bath her. Give her washes down with a flannel, take her swimming, bath her in the kitchen sink if she'll accept that.

Also take her into the bathroom regularly but don't involve water. Take toys in. Put toys or other things she can play with in the bath without water. Don't put her in the bath unless she tries and really wants to get in with them.

Completely allow her to lead how much time she spends in there but make sure there are nice things to do when she does choose to go in.

Eventually you can probably get her to play with water in the bath while standing at the side and this can be gradually turned into getting in with the water, possibly with clothes on.

In the end you should have her happy to go in the bath again but only if you don't push it. At the first sign of her being upset acknowledge that you've gone too far too soon and back right off.

They do get over this given time smile

rootypig Thu 17-Oct-13 08:42:44

Dear Christ, goldmandra. I mean, thanks for your advice, which is helpful, but I'm not sure I have the energy to reintroduce my child to the bath confused. I thought I was getting somewhere with this parenting lark.

I suppose I did ask grin

Goldmandra Thu 17-Oct-13 08:50:47

I thought I was getting somewhere with this parenting lark.

Never, ever congratulate yourself on knowing what you're doing. There is always a curved ball ready to launch grin

It isn't as hard as it sounds. Not pushing is the key. She has to think it's all her idea.

ZingDollyChops Thu 17-Oct-13 08:51:59


kids are fickle. especially at that age.

stop it for a few days or a week.
then maybe have a bath with her.
or what she said ^^

mine scream because they don't want to get out. You can't win!grin grin

RayABlokeIUsedToKnow Thu 17-Oct-13 08:54:40

My LO did this and it turned out there was a VTECH duck that he had suddenly became terrified of, over night! We removed it and he was happy again. For quite a few nights we couldn't for the life of us work out what the problem was! It's been about 2 months now and he still hates it!

rootypig Thu 17-Oct-13 08:56:29

It's true goldmandra, I have been getting rather self congratulatory of late, littering MN with my pearls of wisdom. Was overue an enormous setback grin

Zing the thought of not bathing her for a week! shock
You should see her after a few hours, the child has tide marks grin grin

stargirl1701 Thu 17-Oct-13 08:59:58

Change the colour of the water? Tinti products are great. Let her bath her dolly A LOT! Invite a cousin/friend to have a bath with her - peers can normalise a situation. Lots of water play during the day - water tray with toys, etc. Have a bath every day yourself with her just watching.

rootypig Thu 17-Oct-13 09:01:11

she has to think it's all her idea

You know, this is so true of everything the bossy little darling does grin

Ray DD has nothing so fancy as a vtech duck. She has a rubber duck that she is quite fond of what doesn't float. drunken duck. Based on my knowledge of vtech products, a vtech duck does sound rather terrifying


rootypig Thu 17-Oct-13 09:05:08

Stargirl you are talking my language. I have visions of me, lost in mountains of suds, while DH and DD look on.

As ever, I am struck by the fact that children seem to need us to make the world more strange, filling it with coloured water and in life-like animals hmm

I do like that suggestion though, have been meaning to up my game on messy play, perhaps the two could meet.

BooItTooJulia Thu 17-Oct-13 09:12:14

Mine is doing the exact same, at the exact same age!

We don't have a big bath, so he is in a big baby bath, but he just climbs out now. Screaming and soapy. Nothing is working.

We are donkey washing (just flanneling down) and showering. He's fine at the pool.

This too shall pass.

Spirael Thu 17-Oct-13 09:13:06

Have you tried giving her a shower? DD at that age loved coming in the shower with me! Just make sure the pressure isn't too strong, as now she's older she complains that it stings her skin if the pressure is too high.

RayABlokeIUsedToKnow Thu 17-Oct-13 09:16:38

VTECH duck shouts at you as you bathe whilst flashing madly and quacking artificially. Can't see what his problem was, the big baby!

Goldmandra Thu 17-Oct-13 09:18:30

You know, this is so true of everything the bossy little darling does

She sounds very two grin

Think twice about jumping through hoops to get her involved with water.

Colouring, bubbles and things like Gelli Baff can be great fun but, if you've gone to lots of effort and they dismiss it out of hand, it's really hard to be nochalant. Maybe go to that sort of effort when there's another child there so you double your chances of someone being impressed and she has more incentive to investigate it.

MrsCosmopilite Thu 17-Oct-13 09:19:14

Oh yes, been there - and it happened again a while after DD turned 2.

We just did the 'not forcing' thing - hand washing in the sink, water play, foam play, empty bath.... and also (when DD was older) shut her in the bathroom with one of us whilst we had a bath. We made it look fun with lots of bubbles, toys and splashing. It took a few weeks but we got there.

Right now she loves baths & showers. That of course, could change at any time!

Seb101 Thu 17-Oct-13 14:46:53

I once had exact situation with a baby I looked after (nanny.) did it coincide with you travelling on airplane?? Cause it did with us.... Turns out baby had been completely scared to death of the horrendous noise the airplane toliet flush made!!! And let's be fair; they make me jump out of my skin!!!grin After that the baby was terrified if any running water noise; taps, toliet flush, bath running etc. it wasn't the water he was afraid of; because he was fine swimming. For a while we would run the bath completely out of ear shot of him, only bringing him up when it was all done. After about a week of not forcing him to go in bath; but instead playing with toys in bathroom, wandering in and out, he let us put him in with no tears. We then didn't empty bath until he was out and downstairs away from noise. This went on for weeks, till one days he happily crawled up stairs while bath running and wasn't in the least bit bothered!
Who'd have thought a airplane flush could cause such upset for weeks hey!!! ��

ZingDollyChops Thu 17-Oct-13 17:06:13


grin grin grin grin
.I meant don't use the bath to clean her but some other method instead !

and stargirls ideas are great.

how are things?

rootypig Thu 17-Oct-13 17:25:12

Ray grin

Goldmandra she is very headstrong determined. You are so right about nonchalance, I think parenting is like a very long game of poker. Don't let them see you got nothing grin

Seb it did coincide with a long haul flight! Not her first one, but it was definitely then. And what you describe is JUST like DD. She hates the noise of the toilet now! though she crawls into the bathroom when her dad is having a shower to see what 's going on hmm

I am going to try this no noise bathing.

Thank you all for your replies, am going to do the play-no-bath route, then silent baths grin. And it's nice to know I have lost the plot quite yet and other babies are as peculiar as DD grin

VikingLady Fri 18-Oct-13 20:15:52

We had a similar problem at the same age - the only thing we could think of to do was to let her feel she had control of it (also a bossy little madam!). We filled the baby bath and used bubble bath, toys etc to make it fun to play with, and put it in the big bath iyswim. Took her clothes off and stood her dry in the big bath. She played with the water and we wiped her down with flannels. She started trying to climb in after about a week.

Just a thought. Mine may not be the only one this works for! Wish i'd thought of running the bath out of earshot though!

rootypig Sat 19-Oct-13 07:55:51

Ooh I like that idea Viking. Shame I got rid of the baby bath. Will look for a substitute.

Meanwhile I have found a way to get her wet without howls - sit her on the edge of the bathroom sink (thank god for American vanities, sink is built in) and she cries a bit when I run the tap but quiets when she realises she is not getting soaked. I can then soap and wash her arms, legs, bot if required. She giggles at this. Flannel face and neck. Is doing the job for the mo, the sink is usually black when I'm finished! hmm

She's not bothered about the noise of the shower, I have established, though she cries when put into it. I have been taking her in when DH is in there, to see him, and he is doing the same for me. She likes that....

A very odd collection of symptoms!

Oriunda Sat 19-Oct-13 09:00:59

I posted on a similar thread a few weeks ago but it took us 2 weeks to reintroduce the bath to DS. Basically like Gold said. Started by washing him in bucket next to bath then gradually brought him in to play with one of us. A new bath toy sealed the deal. Turned out the trigger for the phobia was and still is a battery operated swimming frog.

RoadToTuapeka Fri 25-Oct-13 06:45:44

Goodness, I am so glad I remembered the title of this thread in active conversations a week or so ago! My almost 10 month old inexplicably screamed as soon as he got in the bath yesterday! He loved bathtime up.until then, and even yesterday he'd hung onto the sides of the bath wriggling excitedly as I ran it.

Checked water, not too hot or cold, so got him out. Tried today in his (big) baby bath and same deal - peering in happily but screamed as soon as he was in.

I will try the suggestions from other posters and hope the fear abated.

rootypig Fri 25-Oct-13 07:08:23

Isn't is strange Tuapeka! I think it's something to do with cognitive development-?? I can report that DD now consents to being washed in the sink hmm

Jemstone Sun 27-Oct-13 00:38:53

Mine did this. Then just as it started to get better he toddled straight into a large water filled hole at the seaside and went right under. I rescued him of course but he was under for about 20 seconds and developed a phobia (for want of a better word) of getting wet. He was 13 months. Even the rain was a problem and we always had to have a coat with a hood with us

Took over a year to get him to go in a bath without screaming, about 3 years to get him in a swimming pool and 4 years to get his hair wet. He will now have a shower after swimming and lie down on the bath! On average his hair is washed with shampoo approx one a year, and he has 2 baths a week. We just never got into the habit of doing it and by keeping his hair short it doesn't need shampoo.

Softly softly was how I did it, things like getting him to wash his baby brother (which required getting in the bath), getting him to wash the bath and letting him wear swimming goggles and swimming hats in the bath. Without the hole incident I don't think it would ever have been so bad but I'd be very wary of forcing things in case it ends up as bad as it did for us.
Children don't tend to smell so a wipe with a flannel really is enough most of the time

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