So, before I was even pregnant I told you all that I wanted to start swimming with my baby as early as possible.
That’s still the case. I was waiting because our pool is heated, but still cool, and I wanted to make sure he could maintain his own body temperature first. My other option was to enrol him in a class at a public pool, which would probably have a specially heated baby pool. The youngest class offered around here, though, starts at four months of age.
So a couple of weeks ago I picked up a Swimmi bathing suit, but before I could enrol Babby in anything, he took a sudden dislike for his bath.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED!
I test the water before I put him in it. We haven’t scalded him. He hasn’t had any scary experiences as far as I can tell, but suddenly he hates the bath.
He used to love the bath. When he was just a newborn, we put him in his bathtub while he was shrieking his head off and he settled down within seconds, moving his arms and legs dreamily through the water.
His Spa Baby tub, which a friend of us gave me, supposedly imitates the confined environment of the womb. I don’t know if it does, but it takes up less space than your standard bath and Babby certainly found it soothing. For months we’ve put him in his baby bath every two or three days and he has splashed about, played with his toes, and attempted to drink the bath water. We have even resorted to it as a “pause” button when he was having one of his rage fits, because as long as his body was submerged, he’d be calm.
Now, all of a sudden, he screams and his fists shake with rage and he refuses to sit down in it. When Babby is mad, he gets stiff as a board and stands straight up. Last night we bathed him standing upright with his feet in the water while he screamed like an air raid siren, so it was more of a sponge bath than anything else.
We tried the big tub, in case the little tub was just getting too small and cramped (although it’s supposed to be fine for 12 months and up). He wasn’t too bad if he could nurse in the water, but if I took him off the breast, the rage reappeared.
I want him to love to swim. I want him to love his bath. I want to clean him without it turning into a traumatic episode of temper.
What do I do? Assvice will be welcomed gladly.
This is another one of those “babies are contrary” and “one step forward, two steps back” kind of situations. Sometimes babies – and even older kids – will go through phases where they hate hate HATE the bath. We actually just came off one of those with James; he always loved it, thought it was great, and then for about four months he would NOT take one without screaming, tantrums, and an epic battle royale that ended in me (and the bathroom floor) soaked.
Just as suddenly as it started, it stopped. He’s once again back to staying in until the water gets cold and upending buckets over his own head.
In the interim, we kept him as clean as we could with a combination of sponge baths and showers. Michael would hold him in the shower, wash his hair, and soap him up, while James giggled and waved his arms and had loads of fun.
If it helps with the swimming thing, during the entire I HATES BATHS period, James continued to attend swimming lessons and enjoyed them thoroughly. Rather like my dog, who whimpers and cries and trembles in the tub but will leap into the ocean in April with wild abandon.
Don’t force the bath issue for a while. Try showers, they make work for when he gets really grubby and will help reinforce the notion that water time is fun. Try the swimming (but don’t be disappointed if he really dislikes it. He’s young yet and has lots of time to decide he loves it.)
Would a baby like a shower? I hated showers until I was practically a teenager.
All I know is that both of my babies LOVED the shower, from a very young age (like, think weeks instead of months). It’s warm, there is skin-on-skin contact, and it’s enough of a novelty I guess that it works when baths don’t.
Worth a try maybe, if he continues refusing baths and gets all baby-smelly. Just do it when PH is home, so he can be ready with a towel for when you’re done. Or else let him do it – I was never the one who did showers, it was always Michael. I was too afraid I would drop slippery wet baby. In fact I distinctly remember resisting hardcore when it was suggested the first time. It has just worked so well for us over the years – especially during bouts of ‘flu, or asthma – that I’m a bit of a convert about the whole thing now. 🙂
Some babies like them, and some don’t. I used to take showers with my nephews, and for some kids I babysit for really liked being sprayed with the shower head sprayer. On the other hand there were kids I cared for who absolutely hated the sprayer and thought it was evil.
You didn’t do anything. I agree with Hannah up there – it’s most likely “one of those things.” Often when an infant or toddler is going through a developmental phase, some of their other “skills” drop off. Taking a bath isn’t exactly a skill, but if Babby is going through a growth spurt, or is busy working on his motor control, or something else right now…the bath may just be overwhelming for his stimulated system.
Give it a few weeks and try not to push the issue in the meantime. Give sponge baths and showers, see every now and then if he’ll go in the big bath with you. Eventually he’ll like his bath again.
As for swimming…entirely different experience. Babby may like it very much when you try it, or he might have the same issue as the bath. Give it a try, and then if he’s upset, don’t push it.
It’s okay! Babby does not hate the bath forever and evermore.
I hope you’re right!
Wombat Central said:
Not much new to add here. I think it’s a phase and he’ll learn to love it again. Our kids went through those phases, too. I wonder if a different toy to play with in there would entice him for now.
Problem is, he’s so busy screaming that he doesn’t notice toys. Maybe if we could distract him with one as he’s going in…
Hmmmm…. I was all set to say “Maybe he doesn’t like bending his legs anymore and would prefer to kick them around. Try the big tub.” Then I read that you HAVE tried the big tub. Did you hold him close the whole time, or let him kind of “float” a bit, with your hands under his armpits? All I can think of is to keep trying. He might be disturbed by echoes and so on if he’s not used to being in the bathroom.
Liam hated baths till he was around that age or older and I put him in the big tub and he could start to play in there. With Jonah, instead of using a baby bath at all, I just took him in with me from the start and did the “floating” thing, and he’s always loved the bath. But, clearly, these things might have more to do with personalities and phases than those first experiences.
I think a lot of babies hate baby baths because they are so shallow. The nice thing about Babby’s tub is that it totally submerged him, and he loved that.
He used to love to “float” in the big tub, but not so much any more. *Sigh*
I have no clever additional ideas, but I can add my voice to those saying that their own children have gone through these phases and come out of them again. One thing: with swimming, Frank really didn’t like the big pool until he was a bit stronger (able to sit up) and had more physical confidence when faced with a new environment; another factor I think was that at first when he was tiny he just found the swimming pool too cold. We got him one of those little insulating vests, but it was still a while before he took to it. (I didn’t take Hugh swimming until he was six months old anyway. And he was a VERY large plump baby, so the cold thing didn’t arise.)
Yeah, I’m not sure about our pool’s temperature. Its warm enough that I can get in without any oohs or ahs, but it’s still not WARM, you know? And Babby is pretty scrawny.
Hi, I'm Natalie. said:
Frances almost exclusively had showers until she was about a year old – Certainly worth a try!
I may have to!
Tracey - JustAnotherMommyBlog said:
My assvice: You are a bad, bad mom. It’s all your fault and he’ll never like to swim. In fact, he’ll probably need years and YEARS of therapy before he finally gets cured of his water phobia (aquaphobia?). Way to GO.
I don’t know. Kids are weird. Maybe let him be dirty for a while? Sponge baths? My eldest didn’t like to be totally naked for a year or so, so I’d keep his shirt on and bathe his bottom parts and then cover his bottom and bathe his uppers. He currently loves the pool and is a pretty good swimmer.
Tracey made me laugh out loud. As everyone else has said, it’s one of those weird baby things (which will eventually be replaced by weird toddler things, weird pre-schooler things, weird pre-teen things…). He’s moved into it for reasons known only to himself — none of them ANYTHING to do with anything you may or may not have done. He’ll move out of it with exactly the same amount of inexplicable-ility.
I also agree with Tracey’s suggestions. They all seem like good ideas to me!
Here’s hoping this is a short thing.
The way I look at it is the bath and swimming are not the same. You know dogs. Some dogs LOVE the water and would love nothing more than to splash in the smallest puddles all day. But the tub, they hate it. Maybe it’s the same. I’m sure he’ll grow up to be a fish just like you. 🙂
I’ll be so disappointed if he doesn’t!