Mommy SOS: Bathtime = Batty Time

As in drives me batty!!

I may look cute but I am the devil in disguise

I may look cute but I am the devil in disguise

It used to be that I dreaded dinner time – the battle to get Jasper to eat something drove me to drink.. literally, I would have a drink before battle! Now I’m so used to him not eating it doesn’t phase me anymore so I’m saving my drink for right before bathtime.. I think I may have to switch to shots from a beer because holy crap, bathtime is a nightmare!

Please tell me I’m not the only one? Or better yet, that you have a good tip on how to bathe a toddler without turning your kitchen/bathroom into sea world? Actually, the splashing isn’t what is so frustrating (though it’s not fun!) it’s that he won’t let me near him with the washcloth anymore.  He totally freaks when I try to wash him and forget getting him to lie back to wash and rinse his hair – there’s no way I can keep the water out of his eyes when he won’t put his head back.

Yes we have bath toys, but that’s part of the problem I think.. he loves his bathtime so much that it’s like he thinks it’s his playtime and he doesn’t want pesky things like -oh, say getting CLEAN- to interrupt his fun time.  He actually screams and kicks when we take him out!

Don’t even get me started on trying to clip his toenails – wouldn’t it be nice if there were baby salons we could just drop them off at?

Anyway, I’m desperate for suggestions… anyone?

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Michelle says:

You should read the book “Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood” http://www.amazon.com/Love-Logic-Magic-Early-Childhood/dp/1930429002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259942634&sr=8-1. The strategies in this book have worked wonders for our family. It’s all about giving a child choices that you both can live with (even for a tyke Jasper’s age). In actuality, though, I like to think of this book as teaching creative ways to manipulate my child into doing what I want her to do. Seriously, check it out.

Sheri says:

I don’t have a lot of great tips. But we found one thing that helps with the hair-rining. For a long time, I had a swim suit haning on the shower fixture in the bath tub. A would look up and point at it, so I caught on it was a good opportunity to hurry up and rinse his hair. He got bored with that, so I’ve hung a rubber duck up there, and it’s working again.

I love all these tips! I’m definitely going to start letting the water drain!

Sherean says:

I totally clip his nails (both finger and toe) in his highchair AFTER he’s finished eating. Full belly buys me a few minutes.

Hunter LOVES his bath time, too, and gets mad when we get him out. Here are some of the things we do:

1) We don’t use a wash cloth. Just soap (the Weleda stuff you recommended!) and fingers.
2) We’ve never worried about getting water or soap in his eyes. We just dump the water on his head and he pretty much ignores it while he goes about the business of playing. The soap doesn’t sting his eyes as far as we can tell.
3) We have stacking cups with holes in different places, including some that make a little rain shower. He loves that so we’ll often “rinse” him with that.
4) He’s probably not that dirty. We get most of the crud off his face using a wipe after meals and clean up after diapers as well as we can, so we’re not that concerned about bath time being all scrubby, scrubby. We still look at it more as a nice way for him to unwind before bed. Cleaning is our secondary goal. So far, we don’t have the “stinky kid” so I think it’s all right.
5) Sometimes, my husband bathes with him. Chris gets cold but loves playing with him and can sneak in more cleaning this way. Plus, Hunter loves having someone in the tub to play with.
6) We think it’s hilarious when he splashes up a storm. I call it Hurricane Hunter. Throw some towels on the floor, grab my Flip, and get out of the way for a bit. Yeah, no real bathing goes on in those moments. But we get some priceless footage that keeps my Facebook friends in stitches.

Now, after bath, all hell breaks out. We often hold him up to a mirror and make faces for a while to ease the transition to the towel/diaper/jammies bit. While we’re getting him dry and dressed, we give him toys and sing to him. Sometimes it works, sometimes he just cries.

I just got the Happiest Toddler on the Block book and am starting to try Dr. Karp’s mirroring technique so I’ll say, “Hunter, sad, sad! Sad because his bath is over . . . but now he gets to play with Mommy and Doggie!”

It works occasionally. But I think I’ll try a shot tonight.

Good luck, Hon!

Jules says:

I never once worried about water getting in my boys’ eyes. I just take the pitcher and start dumping. Even when they were babies, I would at least let a little dribble in front of their faces to get them used to the idea of water on their face. #1, It’s water, not molten lava. It won’t hurt them. #2, They have to wash their faces eventually, might as well kill a couple of birds with one stone. #3, I didn’t feel like I was getting a good rinse by being delicate and taking care to keep the water out of their eyes. And, again, it’s only water and a little bit of tear free shampoo.

I have to say, the boys are great about being in the bath. When it’s time to rinse they will grouse a bit, and I tell them, nicely, too bad and told hold their breath and put their heads back if they want. When they started swimming lessons, they were the only kids who weren’t afraid of going underwater or getting their faces wet. Hah! My abuse paid off.

Nicholas used to complain about the tub. He wanted to play, and I let him for a while. Then, it’s wash time. Again, I didn’t care how much he screamed or yelled. If I say it’s time to wash, we’re washing. You do something enough and they get the message. Nicholas will still kick and cry sometimes (he could stay in there forever) but I ignore it. I may sound cruel, but really I’m not! My parents allowed us to walk all over them growing up, and as convenient as it was for me at the time, I vowed to be the boss when I grew up and had kids of my own.

Jenna says:

Yeah, bathtime can get pretty rough with a toddler :/

A few things that worked for us:
-We have a garden tub in our master bath and one of us would get in with him. We had a little more control that way.
-Showers. We made Mason take showers with us and he LOVED it.
-We don’t bathe every day. **gasp** I would lose my mind.
-Jasper’s probably still a little young, but Mason loves those tub crayons by Crayola. They’re worth their weight in gold!

Sarah says:

jbhat’s suggestion about the “shower puffs” and dry washcloth above the eyes work pretty well for me, too. I can’t get Finn to lean his head back for anything. I also just try to wash, wash, wash really quickly right away while he’s first occupied with a bath toy that keeps him relatively stationary. He’s currently enjoying these: http://www.booninc.com/products/BathGoods. He arranges them on the side of the tub while I’m washing him. Letting him put his hands in drizzling water also keeps him pretty focused while I scrub him up.

MY problem is that he keeps trying to drink his bathwater — and not b/c he’s thirsty! He just thinks it’s funny — maybe because I keep asking him not to do it… (sigh).

Rachel says:

Just skimmed the other comments, but I hop in the bathtub with my daughter and breastfeed her while washing her hair (which we only do once a week). Same for nails – all done while she’s eating. You might also want to limit the bath toys to one at a time – we had to do that for a while because it was getting too crazy.

jbhat says:

Oh, and try one of those shower puffs for bathing him. Maybe he’ll think it’s funny, plus he’ll get a little exfoliating in : )

jbhat says:

My recommendations:

Our kiddo used to freak out during toenail clipping time too. I would tell him that it wouldn’t hurt because there were no nerve endings in his toenails (!) and then Dad would distract with bubbles. I probably bribed with some sort of post-traumatic experience reward of some sort too.

On the bath: I long ago gave up on giving actual baths. Do you have a shower hose attacment? If not, get one. That way he’s just standing there and you control the water. Also, fold a dry or damp washcloth to hold over his eyes to keep the water out while he leans back for the rinsing. That has worked really well for us.

Good luck!

ariana says:

Whoa, I just cut his toenails in peace while he was eating goldfish in the high chair… Yipeeeeeee!!!

ariana says:

Well…..at least I’m not alone! Some great tips here guys, I’ll implement and keep you posted.

As for the toenail clipping in the highchair.. I can just see in my head how that one is going to fail. I think I’ll try it and video tape the experience.

Sarah, your post gave me a “doh” moment that we should let the water drain from the tub instead of lifting him out – no water is a pretty definite cue that bath is over and it also happens gradually- brilliant!

Michelle says:

I don’t have a real problem with it, but Jack DOES not lay on his back for anything. I am a pushover, so I don’t make him… I just work around it. I put soap in the water too. I have a little pitcher with a flexible rim that you can press against their little noggins and it keeps the water and soap out of their eyes. Of course, Jack doesn’t mind soap and water in his eyes so he puts his head down right when I pour. He sometimes throws a fit when it is time to get out, but I tell him I am going to make him a Baby Burrito (he thinks it is hilarious!) and he will then let me wrap him up. Putting clothes on him is an entirely different matter though… he is cold, teeth chattering, fussing at me, but doesn’t want clothes on.

Smiles~ Michelle

Sarah says:

Bath time sucked for us for quite a while once DS discovered how much he loved water. Getting him to sit was a daily chore I dreaded. For us, a few changes have helped. We only do baths on nights when he is in a good mood and isn’t overly tired. Over tired boy and bath time = choas in our house so we just skip it. We also let him help us — the extra wash cloth keeps him happy, he holds the bucket of water for his hair, etc. And we give him lots of warnings that thing are going to end — one more time filling up your bucket and then the water goes off. One more minute and then the water goes night night. We ask him to say bye bye to the water as it goes down the drain and we let him know we’ll see it tomorrow. And if that doesn’t work, we haul him out of the tub and distract him with either bubbles or his toothbrush until we can get him dry and dressed.

pam says:

Oh yeah, I feel you. Two of my boys loooove bathtime, so it’s impossible to get them out. The other one isn’t a fan, and he WILL NOT sit down in the tub. So I have two sitting and one standing. Ugh. Nightmare.

But, I just make the water all bubbly with some baby bubble bath, and let them play and don’t stress too much about getting them “clean”. Unless they were playing in the dirt that day. ;) When I wash their hair, I rub their heads with the shampoo and then run my hands on their tummies and arms and legs to attempt to get them somewhat clean.

Judy N says:

Ah…yes, bathtime is full of fun toys and the cleaning part is very much disliked by my son. Maybe it’s a boy thing? :) We skip the washcloth now and just soap up our hands and wash him that way…he seems to mind less, and it’s easier to do while he’s playing since we touch him normally anyway.

I clip fingernails and toenails during naptime…always have. Never have tried it with him awake…and can’t imagine how terrible that would be!

I’ve read online for ideas on how to rinse baby hair without getting soap in their eyes…especially once the transition to regular tub happens…it seemed to me that online the consensus is that you just pour it over and let the water flow wherever…and that the kid learns to hold their breath?!?! Seems mean, though, so I still get him to lay in his baby tub to rinse…strange/funny thing that works for him: He has a floating ringtoss toy (http://www.amazon.com/Boon-Splat-Bath-Toy/dp/B0021JKAPS/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=baby-products&qid=1259867039&sr=8-2) that goes in the bath..and if I give him a ring when I lay him back, he gets quite intrigued trying to get the ring around his penis?!??! I have no idea where that idea came from, but he does this and is distracted long enough for me to rinse!

Kimberly says:

LOL, Jasper just won’t give you a break ANYWHERE, will he? ;) You’ve got your hands full, Mama, which you already know.

I often put James in the shower with me… not sure if that would work for you. To get his hair rinsed in the bathtub without pouring water in his face, I’ll hold up a favorite toy (usually a ball) over his head and when he looks up to reach for it, I pour the water over the back of his head. Works every time.

I agree with verbally preparing for change (5, 3, 1 more minute until we get out of the tub!) and timers for an auditory cue of time running out. And what about just giving HIM the washcloth to play with and you wash him with soap on your hands? Faster, easier, and it does get them clean, I promise! :)

Alicia says:

For toenails – clip them while he’s sitting in his high chair eating (or not) and can’t see what’s going on down there!

Megan says:

My baby is younger, only 11 months. But…

I do the bathing right away. Before any toys are allowed in the tub. So far she’s compliant, all though I have to chase her around the tub. And I just quickly try to dump water over her head to rinse the hair.

Also, I’m trying to pavlov her. She gets so upset at the end of bathtime that I got a wind up kitchen timer and I set that for 10 or 15 minutes. I tell her how much time is left periodically. Then when the buzzer rings, I open the drain, so the water runs out while she’s in the tub. I’ve only been doing this a couple of weeks and we only do baths once or twice a week. (the rest of the time she showers with me – she’s had bad diaper rashes from antibiotics so the doctor told me not do do baths as sitting in water softens the skin). However, I did pavlov her with her music box for sleeping time, so I think this will eventually work.

Toenails and fingernails I do once a week after she nurses and I usually turn the tv on for it. I use cuticle clippers, I found them easier than the baby clippers. I’ve heard using the high chair can be good too.

Oh, and I let her play with her own washcloth while we bathe. Hope it helps.

Heather says:

I’m sure these are things you’ve heard before and probably decided aren’t for you, but I’ve used them with at least seven families of children and seen them work. I’m suggesting that there’s never any testing or that the first few times will be easy, but with consistency I’m always successful – even with kids I’ve just met. Of course this means it will be harder for you because you are mommy and he knows just where to push.

Soap in the water is helpful. Even the best washer misses places and toddlers have some creative bowel movements, they end up in places we can never imagine!

[This one is extra, not needed but occasionally helpful] sometimes I put the kids in as I’m filling the tub, after I’ve set the temperature. This makes them feel more involved, like they are part of the process.

I think the most important thing I do is tell the kids what to expect up front. Yes it does open the door for counter-attacks but it also says, I think you are important and I want to you know what to expect.

Before they ever get in the tub, if it’s going to be different I said, “Baby, it’s going to be different.”

Alright, other suggestions will come out in explanation.

“Baby, I know that we usually get into the full tub and play with toys. And that can be fun but it isn’t working because once you are playing you don’t help me get you clean.”

Now, I know, this is a big speech for a little person, but treating them as if they can understand encourages them to try to understand. If not then you know they enjoy the sound of your voice.

“Today Baby, we’re going to wash THEN play with toys.”

[insert expected refusal]

Take a minute, encourage Baby to breath and relax. Once you return to calm, continue.

“I see that you are frustrated Baby, but you can help me. Here, I brought a washcloth Just for YOU!”

[give cloth]

Next, well, I just go for it.
“I know that washing your hair is your least favorite part so we’re going to do that first and get it over with. Let’s get into the tub now.”

If you are still meeting resistance there is nothing wrong with pouring water over their heads. It will get their attention and you can explain that with help, you can keep it out of their eyes. Some of the kids have asked me to do this, I rub them with my hand or the wet washcloth, and others feel better with a dry washcloth just for their eyes. Then we do it together, wet, wash, rinse.

Then BIG PRAISE!

Then the washing THEN the toys.

I love bath time, it’s as much fun for me as it is for them. I get to watch them play, explore and be adventurous. I think you can do it, change your expectations just a little, explain to Jasper through actions and words that there are other [more dramatic – I mean no toys?] options out there and get him on board.

Good Luck – Hope this time next week brings you happy-bath-time-fun!

Catharine says:

I have my husband sing to my son when doing nails, it’s the only thing that works. Sort of. Sometimes I just try to do a toe a day, figure they’ll all get done at some point!

Bathtime is tough, beyond washing his hair, I just make sure there is soap in the water, bad mom. probably!

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