What Do I Do? If my Baby Hates Baths.
Giving baby a bath is more than just getting them clean. It’s meant to be a soothing, bonding ritual that gives parents and babies enjoyable one-on-one time. However, if baby starts to scream at the sight, sound or touch of water—we’ve got problems but don’t fret because you’re not alone. This is a problem that many parents encounter, and for good reason too. Babies are sensitive, especially to change in temperature which can become a problem if your water is too hot or too cold.
A few tips before we get started with our other solutions, these are the things you should keep in mind and try first:
1. Make sure the water temperature is as close to your babies skin temp as possible. This is usually around 97° – 98°F.
2. The same goes for the air! If you’ve noticed the a/c blowing, next time try it with air and heating off. If your bathroom is abnormally cold, try adding a heater to make it more comfortable.
3. Have your baby well fed and well rested when you attempt bath time. This will ensure they are at their least grumpy.
Now on with all of the other additional solutions we can think of to help your baby have their first positive bath experience, or to persuade them into enjoying their bath-nemesis. Here we go…
Stick to a Routine.
Strict routines with babies are… HELLO! SO IMPORTANT. I think we all know that they should stick to a regular schedule and the same goes for bath time. Stick to the same thing every night so it’s easy for them to adjust. Bath time at the same time every night will help them realize the pattern of bathing and start to accept it as a part of their wind-down routine for the day. Watch out, because they could start getting grumpy if their bath doesn’t start on time!
Reward their Efforts.
As a part of their routine, incorporate things that make bath time fun. We will call these things rewards, but it doesn’t need to be a treat or trophy. This can be as simple as adding toys into their bath water to keep them distracted, or allow them to “go flying” around the room in their towel afterwards. This all depends on your baby and what they consider fun, so go with the flow and figure out what works and entertains them.
Try a Bath Pillow.
Bath pillows sound like the most diva thing ever, but honestly do they make these in adult sizes? It’s a cushiony float that will nestle them right above the water, only allowing a bit to touch them at a time. You can find these in a variety of materials from rubber to fabric, so pick one that you think would be cozy. Let their feet hang off and splash while you get into all of those baby rolls with a bit of soap on a wet washcloth.
If your baby is having a very harsh reaction to the tub or baby tub, begin by placing them in it without water. Allow them to get use to that space before introducing water. While baby is in the dry tub, fill another bucket or your actual tub with luke warm water. Slowly introduce baby to the water by pouring water on their toes, and work your way up their body until they let you know when you should stop.
The tub didn’t work? Baby cries in it even when it’s dry? Clean out the kitchen sink if they’ll fit and try it in there. This may make them more comfortable, being at a higher height may make them feel more on the same page with you. No sink big enough? Simply skip the tub all together and lay a towel down on the counter or ground (whatever you’re more comfortable with). You can bathe baby with a washcloth until they adjust to the routine.
Distract with Your Voice.
Talk to baby and describe what’s going on, “first we wash your feet, and then we wash your leg.” Sing them songs, or tell them stories. Anything to keep them focused on their parents kind voices and not the wet world of the bathroom that is so new to them. Normalizing things going on around them and the constant entertainment should make them at least less fussy.
Try a Shower.
Did you know they make baby slings that are water proof just for this occasion? They do! If your baby is anti-bath, try showering with them. It may just be the sitting water that they have issue with. Be sure to put down a non-slip mat (IMPORTANT!) and if you have a handheld sprayer be sure it’s on a light setting.
Bundle for Warmth.
No pun intended, or maybe we do, but bundle baby up. Instead of stripping them down naked so they have time to get cold in between being undressed and placed in the water (and also when you go to take them out and change them into their pajamas,) try doing this very slowly. First run the water, and then undress them limb by limb near the tub. This should make the transition into the tub as easy as possible. Eventually, once they realize that baths aren’t all that bad, they should be more calm and you’ll have to be less careful.