3 Year Old Will Not Take a Bath

Updated on June 30, 2008
K.M. asks from Staten Island, NY
19 answers

anyone else having issues with three year that will not take bath or a shower....

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So What Happened?

thanks for everyone's advise.....i'll try anything and everything..
found out it is not a fear of water as he loves to swim in the pool...will keep everyone posted..thanks again.

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A.L.

answers from New York on

Hi,
my 5 yr old still doesn't like taking baths and showers! But.... we discovered that giving him swim goggles or a snorkle mask makes it fun, and keeps the soap and water out of his eyes. Good luck!
ana

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G.S.

answers from New York on

When either of my girls (4 & 10) gave me any bit of trouble about taking a bath or shower, I have them throw on their bathing suit & there's never another bit of arguing about it!

We also do a rainshower w/my youngest - she'll be in the bath while I put the shower on for a little while. Good luck!

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R.C.

answers from New York on

Perhaps it's the water the child is afraid of...
Have you tired taking a bath with the child? Fill your bath tub to the proper hight of water and temp for the child, (((keep in mind when you get in the level of water will rise)))), add water toys and get in and sit down holding the child against your body. At first the child might make a fuss but talk calmly and see if you can get the child to focus on the toys first before actually washing him...I tend to think little by little with you holding him against you and making it a fun experience might help.
I did this with 3 little ones at once who didn't want to bathe...I got into the tub with my underwear on....and introduced them to play foam. They had so much fun they kept asking when we were going to take a bath. The following bath I didn't get in but I did supply them with the play foam and sat on the ege of the tub. It wasn't long after, when they began bathing without each other wanting the tub for themselves.

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K.P.

answers from Buffalo on

Dear K.,

There are a lot of 'tub' activities...soap based paintfor finger painting, crayons etc. They are a lot of fun for kids...keeps them occupied in the tub for a while, and then everythibg rinses off with water. Also check out the little capsules that 'grow' into foam animal shapes when put in water.

K.

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J.D.

answers from New York on

try letting him play in the tub with no water but with toys, paints, shaving cream is a good one. then turn the tap on very slightly and don't plug the drain. Let them slowly get used to the water. Also check what the problem is? a fear of water? the noise? try playing some music. I'm sure it will pass, good luck

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S.S.

answers from Albany on

My wonderful 11-year-old did not like baths or showers either at those ages--and will still avoid it occasionally. After you rule out any real fears of water, shower, the drain, hot water, etc., she's probably old enough to understand that getting clean helps keep you from getting sick and missing your favorite activities. Then perhaps ask her how she'd like to get clean. Maybe start with a really low level of water (that works for me) but explain that you'll need to still wash her hair and make a waterfall when she puts her head back. Good luck!

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S.D.

answers from New York on

Hi, K..
Try playing with him/her in the bath. In order to get my daughter to take a bath, I fill the tub with bubbles and we play together while she's in there. Friends of mine also gave her a bath book. It's a plastic book that she can take into the tub with her. I also have a rubber duckie(like Ernie on Sesame Street) and we sing. I give her plastic utensils to play with too. I let her help me hold the shower spray when I rinse her off. Your little one may not like getting the soap in his/her eyes. I try, diligently, to scoop the soap away from her face with my hand while washing her hair. I have seen items that will help you keep the water out of her eyes.

Good luck.

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D.B.

answers from New York on

I only have days where he refuses (at 2 1/2 yrs old) so I listen to him (just like I expect him to listen to me) and I meet him half way, if he's dirty, I grab 2 towels during diaper time one soapy one just wet and wipe him down head to toe, I make a little joke that it's his spa treatment, then we do a quick little massage with moisturizer. It's fun and different and he actually lays still for it!!! so he must like that special quiet time once in a while. Good Luck

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M.B.

answers from Albany on

i have a boy who since he has been 2 1/2 or so has HATED getting into the tub and each night is stressful for both he and i...if you want to chat K. m., you can email me at [email protected]____.com

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D.D.

answers from New York on

Shaving cream. Give him the whole can in the tub and let him go wild. They also make fingerpaints for the tub which is soap-based. You can also give him platic cups, bowls, pitchers, etc. They like to pour things. My daughter went through a phase like this too, at about the same age.

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C.R.

answers from Syracuse on

What's the issue with the shower/bath? If it's soap in the eyes I suggest goggles, if it's wanting to not stop playing to get in...they make paints, chalk, bubbles, water guns, toys... or...get a really cool towel(either an animal one or I put each childs name on his towel...it helps me as much as them and it makes them feel special)...I would find out why they don't like it before you try to fix it...Good luck!

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L.C.

answers from New York on

Been there, done that.......it's another stage(they say:))We did a quick one through screaming when it was a nesessity(I did not know but doctors actually only reccomend no more than 2 baths/showers a week), it will pass.

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K.Z.

answers from New York on

Hello,
my 2 1/2 year old went through the same thing, All of the sudden he was afraid of the "fuzzies" anything that was floating in the tub, from hair to lint from his toe. At first he got in the bath and when he saw a "fuzzy" would scream to get out. Then he just refused to get in. For a couple months we tried everything from putting on his bathing suit to giving bath toys to having him watch his 3 month old cousin take a bath and show how it doesn't hurt him, I put the fuzzies on my nose to show him that they won't hurt him and he still wouldn't take a bath. Then one day we went to a fair and he won a rubber ducky at a game and we talked about how rubber duckies are for the bath and they love baths, when we got home he wanted to take a bath with his ducky and the fuzzies haven't been an issue since! I guess it's just a phase they get over. Good Luck.
K.

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M.B.

answers from New York on

Awwwww poor little babe.. my daughter went thru this at 2 years old when I was pregnant with my second. It lasted 2 months! But it DID pass. Luckily we had gotten some good weather and I was able to get her to play in the sprinkler / kiddie pool outside. Her whole reason for not wanting a bath was because she said there were monsters in there. She was absolutely terrified and I didn't want to force it and put her thru that, and then associating bathtime as a scary thing. When the weather wasn't cooperating, I just sponged her off, no big deal. I just kept suggesting the bath thing to her, and one day she was like, ok, and I literally kept my hands on her, to let her know if a monster got her I would pull her right out. She was fine from that day forward.

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O.S.

answers from Buffalo on

Hi K.. My youngest went through this at the same age. Come to find out that he was afraid that he was going to go down the drain with the water. It's funny now.. but back then, it was awful. It took us weeks to get him to see that he wouldn't.

I had to use so many house hold items, toys and myself to show him that nothing goes down the drain but water and bubbles. I sat the items in the tub, one by one and drained the water in front of him. That almost worked.

He said "people mama people go in drain". I said nooooooo people do not go in the drain. I went and got my bathing suit on, sat in the tub and filled it up. He stood there with a horrified look on his face, but I stayed calm with him. I held his hand as he stood by watching. He was probably thinking ... "oh boy, there goes mama!"

When the tub was full, I asked if he was ready... still promising that I was not going into the drain just as the toys and other items had NOT. We opened the drain and I tried to make him giggle while we were waiting... slow drain!!!!

Finally, he saw that nothing would go down the drain, not toys, other items and not even Mama! He was fine after that AND clean!!! LOL (We had to sponge bathe him for what seemed like forever before this situation came to an end!)

Good luck!

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A.S.

answers from New York on

My son is fascinated by my knitting; when he went through a "no bath" phase I took him to a yarn shop to pick out the color cotton yarn he wanted and knit his a bathmitt that fits his hand perfectly. We talked about it at every stage and he watched me knit it. When it was done, he willingly got into the tub and we showed him how to scrub himself down using his new mitt. It worked really well for us! So maybe trying to talk up the independence aspect, letting him pick out his own washcloth/scrubby, bath soap (Target has cool little character/car blow-up style bathgel things that hold about 1 oz of get that he also LOVES) might help.

Good luck!

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K.B.

answers from Albany on

my son will sometimes refuse a tu b also but it is usually because he doesnt want to stop playing or take the time to bathe, so i just take the playtiem into the tub,, using all the same things, toys bathe crayons, paint etc, then i found the bath scrubbies for kids, my son had one with lightning mcqueen and thomas the train he loves them we race the car and run the train up the hills and around the bends as we wash usually singing the most silliest and craziest song i can think of usually by that time he is laughing so hard he forgot he was in the tub,
if he doent want to wash his hair, i us teapots to rinse the coffee(bubbles) off his head, we have used pool googles to rinse and we have also laied on his belly pushing up on his arms so he looks like a seal with his head back looking up and back to his toes as far as he can, i put my hand against his forehead to stop the water from running into his face sometime she will even try to sound like a seal,
we switch things everyday to keep it fun and interesting. we still have a day here and there when he resistes but we just make it as fun as possible so it doent frustate mom and dad
hope this helps.......
sahm of a three year old boy and a 20 month old girl

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A.D.

answers from New York on

Hi K., I don't know any. They usually stop bathing a little older. Did anything happen to make him/her afraid? Try to make the bath fun. Get a new toy ot even a tube or swimmies, like for a pool. Grandma Mary

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M.K.

answers from New York on

Its summer,

I fill the kiddy pool outside with some warm water and commence to wash.

My boys love it,

Instead of taking a bath, we call it swimming,

if its the hair washing leave it for last.

what i do.

get a POT and fill it with water.

use a plastic cup to wet hair initially.
johnsons and johnsons shampoo,
and I use just a little

i say Bubbles bubbles bubbles as i wash their hair.
and then I say close your eyes 123
close your eyes 123
andthen i say here it comes 123...DUMP the water over their heads.

and in one shot their head is rinsed.

no drama or trauma.

as soon as you do that dry their face off.

My oldest used to like to hold a dry wash cloth over his eyes.

Good luck

M

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