Help! My Baby Hates Bath Time! What Can I Do?

Pre-kids, we picture bath time as all fun and giggles; a sweet soothing time to bond with your baby; a happy splashy ritual to lovingly look forward to…. right?

Well, some babies simply don’t get the memo, scream blue murder instead and it all turns into a horribly hellish exercise in just getting bubs clean.

Yep, we’ve been there, and we’ve got your back, and – you know what – like a gazillion things with kids, it won’t last forever (although it might seem like it!). But, in the meantime, read on and try this…

Distract them – any which way you can
Ah ‘distraction’, that trusty old parenting hack (which sits nicely behind ‘bribery’) – as taking their attention elsewhere is sometimes the only way to get the job done. Try giving a running commentary on what you’re doing (‘let’s wash that carrot from your curls, Junior’). Or serenade bubs with a rousing rendition of Row Your Boat. Bring in toys, boats, things that squirt water, rubber duckies – heck, bring out the bath crayons beforehand and do a Monet inside the tub. Anything that distracts them from the task at hand may just make bath time bearable.

Too bleeding obvious, probably, but test the temperature
When we gave our eldest daughter her first ever bath, we thought we were erring on the side of caution with the lukewarm water. Her very vocal protest (okay, she went bloody ballistic) soon put paid to our ‘erring’. So we upped the water temperature, our little lady quit shrieking and we took note for next time. We cranked up the room heater too.

Give the tub some time-out
Treat baby to a totally new sensation by showering them instead. My little people loved showers from early on, so I’m a firm believer in the power of the shower.

Bring out the bubbles
This probably falls under the ‘distraction’ thread (see above). But, hey, I’ve yet to meet a kid of any age who doesn’t love bubbles. And, yes, they will try and eat them.

Sometimes it’s all in the timing
It will always be a tad trickier (read: extremely hard work) to bathe a tired baby. And a hungry baby probably won’t play ball either. So getting the timing right can set you up for bath-time success. If your bouncing bundle is super-grumbly just before bedtime, forget talk of ‘bath, book and bed’ for now and take them to the tub a lot earlier.

Try keeping baby covered
Now I haven’t tried this one myself, but I’m aware of many a mummy who swears by this simple but superb idea – bathing baby wrapped in a face washer. Uncover, wash and re-cover every limb, and nook and cranny. Baby stays covered, baby stays calm, baby gets clean. Love this idea.

If all else fails, throw in the towel (so to speak) and jump in too
Bathing with your baby offers them comfort, warmth, security, familiarity, reassurance – all those lovely fluffy things your teeny offspring want and adore from their folks.
And a few shared bath-times may be all they need before going solo again.

As with almost all stages of parenting, baby hating the bath will pass. Until then we wish you mummy-sanity and less-screaming! Remember, there’s nothing wrong with skipping a night or two when you just don’t have the energy to deal! Good luck! 

Avatar of Sacha Burkett

Sacha has been a writer and journalist for over a decade. A happy mama of two, wife to one, Sacha is a lover of books, wine and sleep - all of which she would generally like more of!

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