My 12 month old twin boys have always loved their baths and the water. They swam in their grandparents' swimming pool all summer long and love to sit in their bath seats and splash & play with all of their bath toys.

Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, a few weeks ago one of my sons began screaming whenever we put him in the tub. He'll stand at the side of the tub, watch his brother, try to grab toys and play, but as soon as you lift him over the tub, he screams and clings on to me. Today, I managed to just wipe down his body as he had his arms wrapped around my neck trying desperately to climb out.

He has never had a bad experience in the tub, never slipped or fell, and never been in water that's too hot/cold. His brother still loves the tub, and does not have this issue.

Has anyone had their child develop a sudden fear of the bath? Any suggestions to help him get over his fear?

asked 11 Feb '10, 19:20

Shannon%20B's gravatar image

Shannon B
accept rate: 9%

Do you leave them with a nanny? Are you 100% certain he didn't have a bad experience with her (or others)?

(11 Feb '10, 20:33) JJJ

The only babysitter they've been with is my mother and she's never given them a bath. I'm certain that he's never had a bad experience in the bath.

(11 Feb '10, 20:51) Shannon B

When my daughter was born I was told that screaming when in water could be a sign of an ear infection.

(12 Feb '10, 04:47) nikjoyce

It's a pretty common phase (if you goggle it, there's loads of stuff). 3 out of 4 of my kids have done exactly that, just one day out of the blue, freaked out completely at bathtime.

My youngest (17 months) is going through it now, actually, and has been for about 3 months. Like your son he'll stand at the side of the tub when his older sister is in it and play with the toys she's playing with, but lose it completely if you try to put him in the water. I've been giving him sponge baths, mostly, but when he's just too grubby to be borne any more I've been bathing him in the plastic baby tub. He's not really impressed, but he doesn't completely freak out, so that's progress, at least.

In my experience, you just have to slowly work them back into having a regular bath in stages, sponge baths, bath in the baby tub on the floor (or bath in the sink), bath in the baby tub in the big tub, then, maybe, bath in the big tub. (My sister had to start with my nieces feet in the sink, and slowly work their way into all of her bathing in the sink, then the baby tub, sigh...)

Good luck, and don't worry, it's a temporary thing. He'll be having fun in his tubby again soon. (Of course when they're six, you'll probably have to threaten to take away dessert to get them to bath, little boys do so adore getting and being dirty, and the smellier the better.)


answered 12 Feb '10, 07:32

Neen's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%

edited 12 Feb '10, 18:35

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Meg Stephenson

Sometimes kids go through phases and do not necessarily have stable preferences over time. My son has had times he wanted two showers a day (one with each parent as they did their morning business) or he would get very upset. Other times he didn't want to bathe at all, or it would be a major tantrum. Currently, he likes the shower but HATES the shampoo and we have to force him and afterwards (through tears) he will admit that the shampoo we use now does not in fact sting at all (then why were you afraid of it?).

These phases can last for days, weeks, or longer. It doesn't mean it's permanent. If you are reasonably sure they haven't had a bad or scary experience in the bath, just let go. It will probably pass soon. It's best for you not to make a big deal about it or betray any anxiety yourself about bath time. Maybe find some fun toys or games they can play with in the bath, or read a story in the tub, something else fun they don't get to do any other time.


answered 12 Feb '10, 00:27

lgritz's gravatar image

accept rate: 14%

I have two kids who regularly go through the I hate the bath phase. I have considered investing in ear plugs. A few things that work for us are:

  • we have a bath every second day but do persist. I tell my 3 1/2 year old that everyone needs to have a bath or shower.
  • make bathtime at a time when both you and the kid(s) are not tired.
  • bathing in the paddling pool (Summer time here in NZ so that one works at present). I also used the baby bath in the big bath when he was 18 months.
  • just put a small amount of water in the bath.
  • toys or bath books. When my youngest was a tiny baby I calmed the older one down in the bath by getting him to "read" to his little sister.
  • My son doesn't like water on his face we have a dry facecloth for him to dry his face if it gets wet.
  • While they are distracted with the toys etc I wash the kids.
  • My older child likes to wash himself. I finish the bits he missed.
  • I know some people hop in with their kids.
  • I find that my daughter (nearly 2) is often difficult with bathtime if we have been away and she has been in a different bath.
  • my kids don't like the tap being run in the bath so I make sure this is done before they hop in.

Some days the kids are only a minute in the bath just long enough to get clean and other days they don't want to get out.

Hope this helps.


answered 17 Feb '10, 01:15

K%20D's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

edited 17 Feb '10, 07:51

Great ideas! I've been know to send somebody in for the soap, shampoo and a facecloth when they're busy playing in the wading pool in the yard too! That's how my oldest got bathed the whole summer when he was 2!

(17 Feb '10, 07:54) Neen

There have been two or three times where my daughter responded similarly to the bath. Like your boys she otherwise loves the water, swimming lessons, wading pools etc. I'm not certain what it was but for some reason on those specific days she appeared fearful. I have some hypotheses such as maybe the water felt too cold or warm to her (something that feels fine to your or one child may not for another), she wasn't feeling well that day, she was just irritable, or overtired. Honestly I will probably never know what it was.

The good news is, like Igritz mentioned, it appeared to be a phase and simply passed on. We would get ourselves through the difficult bath. For the next bath I would be sure to be calm and confident and try not to let the previous bad experience carry over.


answered 12 Feb '10, 01:56

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Tammy ♦♦
accept rate: 18%

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Asked: 11 Feb '10, 19:20

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Last updated: 17 Feb '10, 07:51