From Our Blog: Tips for When Your Baby Hates Baths

|Toddler refuses to take a bath

One of my mom friends let me in on a little secret the other day… her young toddler refuses to take a bath. After giving me a rundown of what baby bath time had been like at her house recently she finally took a breath and looked my way. All I could do was chuckle. See, a few months ago that person sitting across from me was me and the anti-bather was my child.

I am not sure what really started my then 12-month-old son from hating bath time. Maybe it was the swimming lessons we both endured, or the lake we made him swim in during vacation; most likely it was that our sweet baby was finding his own voice and opinion and one day just decided to boycott being washed.

It really didn’t matter; I shared with my friend the steps we took to help get us back to the happy, fun, and playful bath time and I want to share them with you – in case you ever find yourself with an uncooperative toddler who needs to get clean.

When Your Toddler Hates Baths - Tips for Ending Baby Bath Time Struggles 

  • Don’t force the issue. This comes right from my pediatrician when I told her that my baby hates baths so much he wouldn't go into the tub. She told me to take it slow and to remember that Cab isn’t getting that dirty (yet) and baby wipes can work (cleaning) miracles. We knocked down from a bath every other day to once or twice a week.
  • Let the water run but don’t close the tub drain. This really helped in the beginning when we were full on freaking out… I mean the kind where your child is grabbing onto your arms like a baby monkey and refuses to let go. For us it wasn’t moving water that bothered him, it was the whole act of bathing. Using wash cloths while he stood in a practically dry tub was what worked as a good baby step.
  • Get your child excited for bath time. Take your child out shopping for some new bath toys. By incorporating a few new items into rotation Cab was likely to spend more than two minutes in the tub.
  • Keep the water level low. Once Cab was feeling more comfortable in the tub itself we started to close the drain, but only with a few inches of water. From there we slowly raised the water line.

The final bit of advice I had for my friend was to roll with it. For the majority of the “I hate” bath time phase, which looking back was more than four months, Cab just stood in the bath tub (a must have for us was a non-slip bath mat) and we didn’t fight him to sit. One day he looked at me and said “sit” to which I replied “if you want to” (trying to play it cool, obviously). We haven’t looked back and now we can’t get him out of the bath without tears!

Sharing these experiences in parenting with others is so important to me. I am able to give to one friend and get back from another when I ask about something I am facing. It’s nice to know that trying moments happen to other parents too, and that we weren't the only ones who had faced a toddler in need of a good bath!

I am Aili, a first-time mom and lover of cloth diapers and cute baby fashion. As an avid bargain shopper who will stand in line to snag the right deal, if I’m not searching out an outfit for my little man, you can find me in the home décor section. I am excited to share with you all my mishaps and successes as I navigate this thing called parenting. Read more from Aili including Transition from the Infant to Toddler Room at Daycare.  

What to Read Next:

  • Get tips for handling Toddler Temper Tantrums
  • Read more posts about toddlers from The Family Room bloggers
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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
|Toddler refuses to take a bath