9 Month Old Hates Bath!!

Updated on June 07, 2009
K.M. asks from Saratoga Springs, NY
4 answers

My son is 9 months old, and for the most part has always hated baths to the point where he screams and shakes and just about makes himself throw up he gets so upset. He has had one or two brief phases where he didn't mind it and even played with toys and splashed, but those phases didn't last more than a few baths each. I have tried different baths, I have tried different toys, I have tried bathing with him. As soon as we get his diaper off in the other room and he knows what is coming is when the crying starts. I thought it was the sound of the faucet or showerhead when we rinsed him off or filled the tub since he is pretty sensitive to sounds, but we stopped doing that while he is near for quite some time. Could he be holding onto that? My son is really laid back and easy baby which is why this is so uncharacteristic. The only time he ever cries is baths or when he hears the vaccuum or hairdryer. I'm sure part of his fear now is my own fear and dread every time it is bath time, but I'm not sure what else to do! Please help!

UPDATE: Sorry I put this in the wrong section...I have no idea how to change it now!!!

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answers from Washington DC on

All I could think is there must a sensory shock to his system. Is the water too hot or cold? Was it ever once too hot or cold and he still remembers that? I'd try sponging him in a baby tub a little longer instead of the big tub. Try to rinse him using a sponge or baby cloth. The pressure of the faucet and/or showerhead probably is too much for his sensitive skin. Try adding music to the experience (your singing) and/or talk him through. Maybe appealing to his other senses during the bath will help him. And it very well could just be a shock to him. One minute, he's cooing and playing and the next there's all of this water rushing onto his body. Some children have a tough time with transitioning to activities. Calm him after a bath with baby massage and see if we can create some new memories. Rock him and try to help him see this experience as relaxing and pleasurable. Then, if you've tried these techniques, and others I'm sure you'll read online, with no positive outcome, I'd raise the matter with his pediatrician. Have you checked his bottom and diaper area to see if there's diaper rash that might be irritating his skin? If he enjoyed it once or twice, then suddenly started reacting, I'd check the pattern. Did something change? Did he accidentally wet his face? My daughter for a long time hated having water hit her face. Still hates getting hair washed (now 5 years old!). Keep a journal, if you can, to see if factors are changing. Time of day, meal. Is he gassy or hungry before you're bathing him? Too many things that can effect his reaction to bathtime. He could be also very sleepy and the bath could be overstimulating. For some children, a morning bath might be better. As you can see, there are a lot of reasons this could be happening.



answers from Washington DC on

Now that it's summer, maybe a baby pool outside could change his experience of water. My kids always hated baths because of the hair washing. Otherwise, the splashing they loved. If it isn't a sensory thing, he will grow out of it. Have fun.



answers from Washington DC on

Hi K. --

You might want to have him evaluated by an occupational therapist for sensory processing disorder (that's where the brain perceives stimulation as more, or less, than what other people hear/feel/see/experience.) It's very common and can be helped tremendously, but you need to start young.

My daughter was diagnosed with it at 18 months, (as well as several other issues) and used to become overwhelmed/distraught by any loud sounds. When she was first born I couldn't sneeze around her because she would just fall apart from the noise.

Long story short since beginning OT she's a different kid and so much happier (as are we).

There are some great books out there (you can probably get them at the library) to see if his symptoms match. My favorite is "Sensational Kids: Hope and Help for Children with Sensory Processing Disorder by Lucy Jane Miller" because she has fictionalized accounts of several different kids dealing with different aspects of SPD and you can see if you recognize his symptoms in there.

If you want more specific info feel free to email me. Good luck, L.


answers from Washington DC on

since the hairdryer and vacuum also set him off, it does sound as if he's sensitive to sounds, and has come to associate baths with the noise even though you've stopped running the faucet with him in the room.
maybe just sponge bathe him for a while, a basin of warm water, wash cloth and mild soap while he just sits nakey on a towel.
hope it's just a phase!

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