Question: Since the day my 4 month old’s umblical cord fell off and he has been ready to bathe. He screams the entire time, he hasn’t had a bad experience at home during any bathing sessions, any suggestions as to what to do, and an explanation on why? Kim
Answer: You must just dread bath time coming everyday. This is one of those situations when the images of a happy baby enjoying and splashing through bath time does not match your baby’s reality. Not all babies enjoy bath time. You know there weren’t any specific situations that created feelings of distrust or anxiety. So, you can only assume that it’s his personality or his age.
Here comes your first lesson in creative parenting – trying to work around a problem with flexibility and resourcefulness. Don’t give up on baths completely but experiment with other alternatives. The best parenting solutions come from the tried-and-true process of trial-and-error. 1. Think of this as an adventure in curiosity not in a frantic search for “the right way”. You want your son to enjoy this as much as possible and not feel like you have any specific expectations for him. In other words, relax (always easier said than done). It is perfectly alright that this is difficult for him and you remain loving and calm.
2. Have you tried bathing him at different times of day? Maybe he is over-tired at bath time.
3. Is it soothing for him to have you talking or singing through his bath time? Try picking up Joanie Bartels’ CD “Bathtime Magic” and practice those fun bath songs. (Even if they don’t work now, you’ll build a great repertoire for toddlerhood!)
4. Being naked and in water can be stressful and a little shocking to a baby who likes the warmth and comfort of being clothed. You may want to try sponge baths instead of bathing on alternate nights. And on bath nights, play in the bath water before laying him in it – play splashy toes or let him watch you pouring the water in a cup for a few minutes.
5. Get a bath-seat to try in your big bathtub and climb into to the tub with your baby. He may like the company and the feel of the bath-seat around him.
6. Experiment with other “water adventures”. Can you sit with him in your lap with a light shower spray over you (not on his head, of course)? How about going into a wading pool together and kicking his legs? There may not be a quick answer to happy bath times. But I assure you – one day he will just decide that getting a bath is not a bad idea at all! You’ll never look back again.
Karen Deerwester, Ed.S.