For some babies, when being introduced to a bath time routine, they can be afraid of the sounds and sensations of water in a bathtub. The running water echoes off the hard surfaces, sounding like a dangerous waterfall.
The bath water itself can be frightening, especially if it is not the right temperature. Here are a few tips to keep your child enjoying their bath without being afraid.
- Don’t expect a child to start bathing in a full-size bathtub. Start with a plastic tub or a sink that is just larger than the child. If you use a baby bathtub, put it on a counter on a table. Put only enough water in it to come up to the child’s belly button.
- Be sure the water is warm- not too hot or too cold. Remember, the water will cool quickly, so work quickly to get the baby bathed and rinsed.
- Gather everything you need before you put the child in the water. You need a non-soap cleanser that can be used for both hair and body, a washcloth, a clean towel, a diaper, and clean clothes or pajamas to put on after you bathe him or her.
- Before you undress the child, let him or her put their hands in the water and splash. If children think the water is fun, they will be more willing to sit in it and play.
- The sink or tub will be slippery, which can scare a child. Use a rubber mat to keep the baby seated securely.
- After a few baths in a smaller plastic tub or sink, repeat the entire process with a regular bathtub. The most important part is to put the water in the bathtub before you bring the child into the bathroom, so they are not scared by the running water.
- Use a few plastic toys to distract the child while you bathe them. To keep them relaxed and happy, spend a few minutes playing with the child. Keep a smiling face and an encouraging voice when you are bathing a child. Children sense your stress level and can be scared if you scold them too harshly.
- NEVER turn away or leave a child in a tub of water, even for a few moments. A small child can drown in two inches of water if they slide down in the tub face first. It is important to STAY OFF THE PHONE while you are bathing a child. Any distractions can cause harm to the child.
- Take the child out of the bathtub and dry them before you let the water out of the tub. Some children are afraid they will be sucked down the drain with the water.
Remember, it’s normal for children to be afraid of taking a bath due to their fear of the noise, the water temperature, the faucet, or the drain. Filling the tub before they come into the room, keeping the water warm, and taking the child out of the bathtub before you drain it should alleviate their fears and make bath time a fun experience.
And don’t forget to keep your stress levels in check! Children pick up on this earlier than you’d ever expect.