It happens to the best of us. One minute bathtime is relaxing, peaceful and an amazing way to end the day- and the next... well, it just isn't! If this sounds familiar, read on to find out why your baby suddenly hates the bath, and what you can do to solve it- with tried and tested tips from real parents.
Why do some babies hate the bath?
There can be many reasons why your baby might decide that bathtime is no longer a happy time. The main reasons tend to be quite obvious, but sometimes it needs a little detective work...
The bath water is too hot/ cold
Check your bath temperature. If the weather is warmer, you might want to run it a little cooler, and vice versa. Always make sure the water is not hotter than 38 degrees C- and swish the water to disperse any hot spots that might be lurking.
The bathroom is too hot/ cold
Its a good idea to check the temperature of the bathroom too- nobody likes a chilly room!
Check the timing of your bath
Sometimes bathtime is the last thing your baby wants, if they're hungry or tired. Make sure the timing is right- baby should be fed (but wait 30 minutes after mealtimes), awake and happy.
Why do some babies develop a fear of the bath?
This post was inspired by an Instagram post from @Mrs_izzyjudd, who's gorgeous little boy has suddenly developed a hated for the tub. And lots of parents responded with similar tales of their own little ones suddenly viewing bathtime as enemy number one. So why do some babies suddenly develop a fear of the bath, after having once really enjoyed the experience? Again, there can be many reasons...
Negative bathtime experience
Has your baby had a previous experience that is now translating into a fear of bathtme? Perhaps a scare or a slip, or a bump? Sometimes the smallest thing can frighten babies and be enough to put them off.
Too much going on
Sometimes there is just too much going on. Bathtime is a whole body sensory experience- and if there are also brightly coloured toys, noises, lights and other stuff happening at the same time, some children can get overwhelmed quickly.
Perhaps the timing is just wrong- baby is tired, or hungry or just not in the mood at the same time as you are. Bad timing can make or break bathtime for many babies.
Parent @lexyroles advised that some babies can develop a hatred for bathtime if they're teething- and it makes sense. If your little one is in pain they might not appreciate your best efforts when it comes to bathtime.
Skin conditions or nappy rash
@welshie1992 and @dottys.doodles were quick to point out that some skin conditions or nappy rashes can cause upset at bathtime, so its always a good idea to rule this out first. A cooler temperature might help if skin is irritated.
Associations with bedtime
When babies start to develop more of an awareness of the world around them, they begin to piece their daily routine together. For a lot of babies, bathtime is at the end of the day and often signals the start of the bedtime routine. if your little one is grasping this, it could be a potential cause for upset.
How can I help my baby overcome fear of the bath?
Having a baby that suddenly hates or is scared of the bath is very common, and there are ways that you can overcome it. Some of the tips left on Izzy's post were just amazing, so we wanted to share them with you.
Adjust your timing
Bathtime doesn't always have to be at the end of the day. Mix it up a little and try a daytime bath instead. If you prefer evening baths however, it might be an idea to tweak the timing a little: @thehairhelper suggests that moving bathtime by just 15 minutes can make all the difference, especially if they're upset because they're over tired.
Take a dip together- or a shower
The eco-friendly baby-friendly option- get in the tub with your little one! This tip came from @kimlakkides and lots agreed. Another great tip, from @virginiameggy- take a shower with your baby instead. And @parkhurstsamantha suggested bathing baby with their siblings too. The more, the merrier- hopefully!
Leave the bath seat out
If your baby uses a bath seat, @buggy_bootcamp_ayreshire says that could be the reason why they hate bathtime. take it out and see what happens- lots agreed that this solved the issue for them.
Sometimes you just need to take a break, and @collettetownsend2's suggestion of doing a top & tail wash for a while seems like a sensible idea. She recommends engaging little ones in lots of water play outside, before slowly re-introducing bath time, using similar games and toys.
New bath toys
And speaking of toys... @kerri_doherty26 says that maybe your baby would like some new ones! Our cheeky little Cuddleducks are 100% baby approved- and eco friendly too! Introducing some new toys can make a huge difference!
Transition slowly to the big bath
Sometimes the big bath can seem scary - especially when you're small. So @zarazoo suggests going back to the baby bath, inserted into the big bath to help baby feel safe and secure. Then from there you can slowly transition back to the big bath at a pace your little one is happy with.
Music has the power to influence mood, and @franrxo found that playing some tunes at bathtime helped her little one to relax and enjoy bathtime once more. Choose your baby's favourite songs, or relaxing classical music to calm and soothe.
Keep baths short and sweet
Sometimes it's good to know when to admit defeat- and knowing that all things eventually pass, @mrsrobynk opted to save herself (and her baby) the trouble by keeping bathtime as short and sweet as possible. Eventually you can build back up to longer bathtimes but for now, if your baby is upset there's no need to prolong the misery.
Face baby away from the taps
Slightly 'out there' but @jojo88h suggested facing baby away from the taps at bathtime- and it actually makes sense. As your baby becomes more aware of their surroundings, strange looking objects can seem quite scary, and sometimes its the simplest thing that makes the biggest difference.
Play time in an empty tub
Bathtime should be fun, so we love this suggestion from @sarahowenseowo! Take away the water, take away the pressure, and just have fun! Let your little one play with their favourite toys in the tub, and help them to release that it's not a scary place.
Washcloth on the tummy
This tip is great especially for younger babies who might be feeling insecure or freighted. @jen_maguire_ says a washcloth placed on baby's tummy can help them to feel safe and cosy- and we couldn't agree more.
Use less water in the tub
You only need around 5-7cm of water for your baby's bath and just up to hip height for older babies. But @rachtighe pointed out that some babies are happier with less water- so give that a go and see if it helps.
The bottom line on bathtime blues
The truth is that lots of babies develop a sudden fear of the bath and sometimes there can be no real reason why. Some take longer than others to overcome it, but hang in there. We promise it will pass! If you have any other tips to share, please let us know in the comments!