What to do with a toddler who hates baths

Kinderling News & Features

What’s more relaxing than a warm, soapy soak in a bath full of bubbles? It’s a feeling parents and kids alike can appreciate!

Sadly though, it’s not that simple for us all. Shirley asked Kinderling Helpline for some guidance with her toddler, who used to love having a bath, but has suddenly begun to hate them! He still likes to water play, but is too scared of immersing himself in the suds.

Mothercraft nurse Chris Minogue reassures us that it’s normal; “This is really common in toddlers, where they’ve been happy in the bath and then suddenly they don’t want to stand in the bath or sit in the bath and it turns into a tantrum,” she says. 

Watch Kinderling Helpline:

She says your tot might have slipped, touched a hot tap and maybe they didn’t hurt themselves but they’ve had a fright and now feel unsure.

The good news is it’s easy enough to rectify. Here’s what Chris suggests:

1. Give the bath a break 

For a month, Chris advises not to put them in the big bath at all. Use the shower or a smaller tub beside the bath. Give everyone a break, choose another way to get clean and don’t talk about or engage with the B-word.

2. Re-introduce the baby bath 

Next, take a small step forward and use a baby bath if need be. “If you’ve still got one, fill it up with an inch of water, put it in shower or on the bathroom floor and do it that way," says Chris.

If they still protest, she suggests you “wash their face and hands and move on”, because fighting will just set you back.

3. Jump in together 

When you think they're ready for a big bath, try one together. You as the parent or carer should jump in with them and gently teach them how much fun baths can be.