13-Month-old's Sudden Fear of Bath

Updated on March 30, 2009
R.B. asks from Los Angeles, CA
8 answers

My daughter has always loved bathtime. She has a little chair that sits in the big tub and has always been so happy to spend every evening bathing in it. Tonight she was terrified to get in the seat - not reluctant, or refusing just to refuse, really scared. Ruling out all the more obvious issues, temperature, time, water level, etc., I'm quite certain this comes from something that happened earlier today in my bathroom, she was playing near the shower and the door snagged her poor little fingers (the shower was not on, but I'm assuming that she associates water with both of those places). While there is no visible sign of injury, bruising, swelling, or change in the way she uses/moves it, it really scared her. She's had little accidents before, but, the way her little fingers felt trapped for that moment, really affected her. (and me! - though, I tried to stay calm for her.. poor little thing)

I had to take her outside to calm her down, and she seemed to get over it quickly enough. We went back into my bathroom and she crawled to the shower door, checked it out and carried on. Then hours later, I took her for a bath in the tub in her bathroom, and she just wouldn't have it, she was really scared, the same fear I saw earlier when she caught her fingers. I didn't push, just comforted her and then gave her a little wash in her sink.. followed with her usual routine, and she fell asleep shortly after that.

My concerns are what this accident has done to her and how to help her through it. I thought she was okay with it all after I saw her check out the shower door and move one. But, after her bath, it's obvious, there's something for her to work through.

I'd love any thoughts on how to help her through this, pass her fear and get back to enjoying her bath.

Thank you in advance for your thoughts.. most appreciated.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

Shower door incident asise, this is also normal at this age/stage.

What I did with my son was throw on a bathing suit got some toys and crayola crayons (bath kind) and took a bath myself. I had Grandma there to help. But, I told him when he was ready he could get in too. It tooks about ten minutes for him to get in and four days for him to tell me to get out.

Kids learn by example, show her its okay and she'll be just fine.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Hi, I think that if this was my daughter, I would change the bathing routine a little bit. I would take her into the tub with me the first time and bathe. Maybe the next time, start together and then get out of the tub, leaving her in- still chatting away. Even though she's little, I would still tell her that you know her boo-boo hurt- but she'll be OK, etc.

Best of luck to you.



answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter went through the same thing around that age. With my daughter, it was because she was aware that bathtime meant that bedtime was soon to follow, and she didn't want to go to sleep. I think they start to become aware of their routine and they want to protest having to go to bed. She got over it after a few nights.

She really likes her baths now, especially since we got her some of those bathtub paints.



answers from Honolulu on

A few Months ago, I just went thru that situation with my grandson who was 17 almost 18 months old. Before that he loved the h2o then all of a sudden he had this fear and would scream.
I decided to take the small pool outside the house and fill it up with h2o. I had my 3 year old daugh. play inside and put a few things in. He didn't want to go in then after a couple hours he went over to the pool and dipped his hands in then I decided to get inside and sit with him. He was fine.
Later we went into the house to take a shower and he was screaming. I decided to take a tall kitchen trash container and fill it up with h2o and placed him inside and he was fine.
Now when he sees us going upstairs and sees that we are in the shower he wants to come in, but we still always have to fill the trash container with h2o and put him in it.
it's much better now and we are able to take him out of the trash container and soap him and finish up the work.
I think that he is afraid of the sound the h2o makes.

I am a 49 year old mother of 3, my youngest almost 4 and my other two 22, and 30. I am from an island "Guam" in the Pacific.
I hope this helps.



answers from Los Angeles on

Yeah, I don't know whay they do this. I would have thought that a childcare provider tried to drown our son with the way he reacted to a bath out of no where....but we don't have babysitters or nannys. Just one day, he started to freak. So, we gave him a choice - bath or shower with Daddy holding him. He picked the shower. He was fine with the shower and then one day, just freaked about the shower and wanted a bath again???? Now he wants none of the above. He doesn't get that option. He gets a shower and puts a washcloth over his face and seems to do better. Neither one of our other 2 kids have done this.

Just reassure her that she's fine and that Mommy has her. Maybe give her a doll to give a bath or something of the like?



answers from San Diego on

Hey there! I have a 15 month old who all of a sudden HATED her baths around 13 1/2 months. It came out of no where and we think stemmed from her sudden dislike of water on her head. It became a challenge to wash her hair and either my husband or I had to get in the tub with her in order for her to stand the bath at all. I recently enrolled her in swim classes to get her used to water again and it's DEFINITELY helping. We are able to wash her hair again without the screaming fits...thank God! *lol

Hope this helps!


answers from Los Angeles on

I used to nanny a boy that had a sudden fear of baths as well. What I did, was made it a party. I actually brought my swimsuit over, blew up a beach ball and I joined him in the tub for a party. We did this a few times and he started enjoying it again. His parents had a pretty big tub, so we used theirs for the parties and he did well after about a week to go back into his tub and have fun again.

They also have tub crayons available that are super easy to clean up and my son loves them! (Good fun for stressed out moms too, when taking a shower! :) ) Also, you may try bubbles. My son loves bubbles. Not just the bath bubbles, but the ones you blow... may try bringing some of those in the tub.

Just some thoughts. I hope this helps! It's tough, I know.

Hang in there. :)



answers from Los Angeles on

Try taking her in the bath with you until she overcomes this fear, or forgets about the incident. You will need a daddy to put her in and fish her out, once you are settled in and the water is a comfortable temperature, but most babies will love to play in the bath with mom.

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