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Bath time has been a bit of a roller coaster in our house. In the beginning, Liam absolutely hated it. I mean, screamed from start to finish. This was during the time that we could only give him sponge baths (until his umbilical cord fell off). When we could finally bathe him in his little tub, his feelings toward bath time improved a little bit, but not 100%. Listening to him cry the whole time made me feel like a real mean Mama. I was stuck between not wanting to upset him, but also wanting to keep a consistent bedtime routine for him. I liked the idea of bath time being right before bed because it’s a very concrete event that indicates to him that bedtime is close. Finally after some trial and error, we figured out why he felt the way that he did about his baths, and now he absolutely LOVES it. He spends the whole time splashing and kicking and playing with his boats. Now, he only cries when we take him out of the bath.
First things first, try to consider why your baby might get so upset during bath time. For Liam, it turned out that the biggest problem was that he was cold. We were bathing him in our bathroom, which is a lot bigger and takes a lot longer to warm up with the heater. Switching to the much smaller guest bathroom helped immensely. He was like a whole new baby. We also started bringing his lotion, clean diaper, diaper cream, and pajamas into the bathroom with us so we could get him ready for bed and dressed without bringing him out into the colder part of the house at all. This worked for us but there could be any number of other reasons. Consider these possibilities.
Time Of Day
Could you be bathing baby too late at night when they are already tired and grumpy? We moved Liam’s bath time up by about an hour and this helped. It also helped us to get him into bed at an earlier time, which improved his sleep. We try to bathe him right after he wakes up from his last nap of the day so he isn’t ready for bed and grumpy. If moving bath time up by an hour or two isn’t an option for you, try bathing baby in the morning instead of at night. Some babies are relaxed by a bath and some are wound up by them, so it’s worth a try.
Like I already mentioned, the bathroom being too cold was really a cause for a Liam-meltdown. We turn the bathroom heater on about an hour before bath time. It’s really uncomfortably warm for us, but he loves it. Whatever keeps the kiddo happy, ya know?
Could the water be too hot? Too cold? In general, it should be cooler than what would be comfortable for you, but not so cold that it’s uncomfortable for them. Handy dandy bath water thermometers are helpful for that.
Make bath time more fun! For newborns, this doesn’t apply as much. Now that he is a little older, Liam loves playing with his little boats and splashing around. For younger babies, try singing or talking to them during bath time to keep it fun instead of stressful.
Turn the lights down to help baby relax. If you don’t have a dimmer in your bathroom, try using a lamp instead of harsh overhead lights.
If All Else Fails, Get In!
In the beginning, I would always get in the bath with Liam, mostly out of convenience. He couldn’t sit up well, so he would slip down in his little bathtub, plus once I was done bathing him, Daddy would take him out and dry him off and I would take my bath. Now, if he seems a little grumpy before bath time, I’ll get in with him and he stays so calm and relaxed.
As they get older, your babe should enjoy bath time more and more (until they turn into stinky, rebellious tweens, but cross that bridge when you come to it). In the meantime, trying these simple tips could help you figure out why your baby is fighting bath time so much.
Does your babe love bath time or hate it? Have you tried something else that helped? Share in the comments!
The Crispy Mama