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  1. #1
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    Unhappy I felt like we were traumatizing him

    Kids get dirty. And when kids get dirty they need a bath. But when DS needs a bath.. all hell breaks loose.

    At nearly 3 years old, M is absolutely petrified of water.

    I don't understand where this fear stems from. When he was little he loved bath time and would even lay down so we could rinse the soap from his hair.

    It wasn't a sudden change either, it was gradual.. like.. one day he just didn't want to lay down anymore and made a really nervous expression when you tried to get him to. Nobody forced him, so he was then allowed to sit in the tub and wash cloths, or small cups of water were then used to get the soap out.

    Then he decided he didn't really like the cups, so it was strictly wash cloths, and cups only to get the back of his hair, which he seemed fine with.

    The fear continued to gradually get worse.

    Tonight, all hell really did break loose.
    Normally M won't go into the bathroom if the light isn't on, but I had turned it on so I could get his bath ready, I left the room (he was outside of the empty tub) and rounded up various bath toys as I usually do. When I came back to the bathroom, he had completely unrolled the roll of toilet paper, and dumped a full bottle of shampoo into his hair and the tub. He was scrubbing the soap into his hair, while standing on his potty at the sink to look in the mirror . I thought alright yay! he's into the idea of having a bath tonight, Thank God!

    Yea... not so much.
    I got him into the tub, there was litterally only about an inch or so of water, he wouldn't sit, that was fine, he was allowed to stand. I took the shower hose thing, and used it to wet his hair. He SCREAMED bloody murder. It litterally sounded like someone in a horror movie was being murdered. The scream that came out of him was horrifying and shocking. But I absolutely couldn't leave that amount of soap in his hair! So I grabbed a wash cloth in hopes that maybe if I just went over it enough the soap would slowly but surely come out. Again with the screams. I took him out of the tub completely, wrapped him in a towel, and tried again with the wash cloth. Again... screamed.
    Tears were just streaming down his face and I was completely at a loss for how in the heck I was supposed to get this soap out of his hair with him screaming like that. I felt horrible! So naturally.... I called my Mom (he was practically throwing up in my hands while I was on the phone with her just from how scared of the tub he is). She came over and tried to get him in the tub, he burst into tears immediately. We even offered to let him keep the towel, he wouldn't go for it, she tried the washcloth, but just 1 stroke with it revealed just how much soap was in his hair. He was ALL suds

    She ended up laying him on his back across her lap, and holding him down while I sprayed the soap out of his hair using the shower hose. He screamed the entire time .
    I felt SO horrible, like we were traumatizing him.

    How do I make bath time less... horrible??
    I don't ever want to have to put him through that again.. but he can't just NOT bathe...

    Im at a loss

    I've tried bathing with him, but he even freaks out when I dump water on my own head!


  2. #2
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    My DD went through a stage like that. I would just use a washcloth and wipe the shampoo out of the hair rinsing it out over and over. She eventually grew out of it. I think it's the lack of control that's so scary.

  3. #3
    Junior Member WynterMom's Avatar
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    Have you noticed if DS seems extra sensitive to sensory things, such as touch, smell, light, sound? This could be a couple of things, one being a normal phse when imagination kicks in and unusual fears suddenly appear. Or loss of control, so maybe asking him to do it himself? Or, he may be like my DSS who has sensory issues, particularly with water. He says it feels like its burning when water pours over him. Even just tepid water or cool water, he gets the sensation that its burning his skin. He was terrified of baths for years, starting around age 2.5-3, and only calming down when he was old enough to take over and do the routine on his own. Just using a washcloth to wipe his hair and body is the only way he'd let water touch him. He could just sit in a tub playing, but if there was a splash or pouring water he'd start screaming bloody murder. Try a few techniques with him. Let him take control and see what he does. He can lead you to how you need to handle this. If he's showing a tendency to shy away from having water pour over him, maybe he's got the same kind of sensory issues? Maybe he wants control? BEst of luck and hope you can find some solutions to help him handle bath time.



  4. #4
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    What about a shower with you? Does he not like showering either?

  5. #5
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    My DD used to be like that. I feared the neighbours would call CAS on us every time I washewd her hair! Turns out she can't stand water in her eyes, so we've taught her to tilt her head back and we very carefull wet/rinse her hair. She's finally better.

  6. #6
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    I used to have this same problem with my son. His was mostly that he didn't like getting the water in his face. Rinsing his hair was a nightmare until I bought this:

    Kidzkamp Shampoo Rinse Cup - Blue & Green - Kidzkamp - Babies"R"Us

    He eventually grew out of his water fear after a few rounds of swimming lessons. Now he's like a fish!

    Best of luck

  7. #7
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    No ideas, but good luck. My kids were afraid of water-not the bathtub until they hit 3-4.
    Proud mom of 3 wonderful children


  8. #8
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    I was wondering about sensory issues as well, my kids are similar and they have sensory issues with water. They are super sensitive to hot or cold and also about water on their faces. DD has always been the worst with water and sensory issues in general, so far the boys aren't as bad and it's mostly water and oral sensory seeking. If it's sensory he'd like have other sensory issues you'd notice to. Good luck either way, it sucks when they hate the bath. Ironically my kids all loved the bath as babies and it started as they got older and then got worse as they continued to get older.
    Alicia
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by WynterMom View Post
    Have you noticed if DS seems extra sensitive to sensory things, such as touch, smell, light, sound? This could be a couple of things, one being a normal phse when imagination kicks in and unusual fears suddenly appear. Or loss of control, so maybe asking him to do it himself? Or, he may be like my DSS who has sensory issues, particularly with water. He says it feels like its burning when water pours over him. Even just tepid water or cool water, he gets the sensation that its burning his skin. He was terrified of baths for years, starting around age 2.5-3, and only calming down when he was old enough to take over and do the routine on his own. Just using a washcloth to wipe his hair and body is the only way he'd let water touch him. He could just sit in a tub playing, but if there was a splash or pouring water he'd start screaming bloody murder. Try a few techniques with him. Let him take control and see what he does. He can lead you to how you need to handle this. If he's showing a tendency to shy away from having water pour over him, maybe he's got the same kind of sensory issues? Maybe he wants control? BEst of luck and hope you can find some solutions to help him handle bath time.
    No I don't think it's sensory... although maybe it is? When I was younger I remember telling my Mom that she made my baths too hot, and even to this day hot tubs are too warm for me and make my skin red and itchy, but pools are perfect and actually the temperature I usually shower in. However I've not noticed any other sensory issues with him.. I don't have a sense of smell so I wouldn't know the difference if he was smelling things too strongly or not.. In every other way he seems like your average everyday 2.5/3yr old.

    Quote Originally Posted by BabyLove View Post
    What about a shower with you? Does he not like showering either?
    He will shower with me as long as I block the water and it doesn't touch him at all. Otherwise he gets so panicked that I have to hold onto him because he'll slip

    Quote Originally Posted by lulismommy View Post
    My DD used to be like that. I feared the neighbours would call CAS on us every time I washewd her hair! Turns out she can't stand water in her eyes, so we've taught her to tilt her head back and we very carefull wet/rinse her hair. She's finally better.
    Yep! Same fear, I was like “oh gosh M, please be quiet, I don't want to have to explain to CAS that Im just trying to give you a bath and have them think Im lying or something with the way you're screaming“ lol. However, even tilting his head back scares the crap out of him...


  10. #10
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    Evalynn went through a phase of screaming in hystarics too. What we did was had “fun“ baths for about a week. I didnt wash anything just tub with toys. Really the dirt wont kill them. We did baths daily for a week and gradually they became not as bad. Then we would wash body only. High pitched happy voices say “oh Evalynnie that feels so nice“ with smiles (as she cried). When we wash her hair she looks up at the ceiling (you could put a big sticker there for him to look at) and held her head up. She would scream and then when we were done I would make a huge fuss about how good she did and horrays etc.

    She eventually got over it.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by princess2808 View Post
    Evalynn went through a phase of screaming in hystarics too. What we did was had “fun“ baths for about a week. I didnt wash anything just tub with toys. Really the dirt wont kill them. We did baths daily for a week and gradually they became not as bad. Then we would wash body only. High pitched happy voices say “oh Evalynnie that feels so nice“ with smiles (as she cried). When we wash her hair she looks up at the ceiling (you could put a big sticker there for him to look at) and held her head up. She would scream and then when we were done I would make a huge fuss about how good she did and horrays etc.

    She eventually got over it.
    this is what we do... i am above her height so i ask her to look at me so head tilted back and the whole time i am telling her how well she is doing.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try the sticker thing.. I already try to get him to tilt his head back but he always tilts it forward as soon as the water hits him.


  13. #13
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    I know some mom's on here don't use shampoo on their kids.... can you just wash his hair with water so that it doesn't require so much rinsing?... at least while he's going through this phase...

    Ds doesn't like laying back but is fine with me pouring water over his head to rinse. I hold my hand over his eyes so that it doesn't go in his eyes too much and then I always dry them with a dry wash cloth. I agree with one of the other posters, just do some fun baths.... maybe get something new for the tub... like the colouring crayons etc. Ds loves when I blow bubbles while he's in the tub.

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