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Babies love baths, toddlers love to splash in water and pre-schoolers enjoy getting bubbly - or so you may think...but some toddlers suddenly develop a fear or dislike of getting wet. They may scream, kick and shout or refuse to sit up propely making it dangerous for them, and irritating for you trying to get them clean after a day of having fun.
But, what's the answer? What can be done to avoid you having the grubbiest toddler in town?
The first thing to understand is that you cannot stop a child being afraid of water, not if they really are afraid and are not just making a fuss for the sheer delight of seeing you get angry. So if you think they have genuinely developped a fear of water, don't worry, just give them a good wash before bed and that will do.
You may never even find out why your child has become scared of having bath but if it happens you need to accept it. There is no point thinking it is irrational and silly. If you are tempted to make little of it or say they are being ridiculous, then perhaps you should remember some fear (rational or not!) that you may have. Scared of spiders (who are tiny and harmless!)? Afraid of snakes (that don't even live in this country!)? We need to treat any child's fear the same as we treat our own.
- Start by calmly telling your toddler that there is nothing to fear, which is a fact, because you are there and the bath water is safe
- Ask them to help you put the bubbles in the bath
- Ask them to check that the water is okay temperature-wise
- Put on special lights so it's soft, calm lighting
- Have a huge, warm towel ready to wrap them in after they are finished
- Show them using a doll or teddy how you will hold them once they are in - ask them to hold on to dolly too as she is also a bit nervous
- Get some fun bath toys or a special face flannel with a favourite character on it
- Give lots of assurance and support and try to chat away any fears
Most toddler fears will pass and be forgotten if they are handled tactfully. Stay calm and just try to help your toddler through!