Julia has had a fear of the bath tub since the day she was born. Maybe it had to do with the fact that she pooped on her dad the first time she had a bath, maybe it’s the bright lights or the vastness of the huge tub. Who knows…but we tortured her and ourselves many times before we had the brilliant idea to start bathing her in the kitchen sink.
Julia had quite the set up in the kitchen sink. Her dad would set up towels in the sink so that she would have her own little relaxing spa. She seemed to be happier with the arrangement for many months. But then something happened. She got bigger. She no longer fit in the sink and she was no longer comfortable. She started to get upset again every time she had a bath and it was again a traumatic experience.
Then I had a brainwave. If Julia was afraid of the big bathtub by herself why wouldn’t I get in the tub with her? At first, Julia would only go in the bath tub if I was holding her tightly to me. She had to be facing me and sitting on my chest. She would not touch the water with her hands and she still cried when she was washed even though I tried to do it very gently. When she looked at the front of the tub, it seemed to be that she was afraid of the faucet. She really enjoyed being able to nurse in the tub when she got upset and I also found it very relaxing to nurse her in the tub.
It was amazing watching the progression of her enjoyment in the tub. First she started to interact with me more and then the semi splash started. Not a full splash…just a hand in the tub and moving the water around. Then one day the full splash came but not too much because otherwise it would get her in the face. Every so often I would try facing her forwards (away from me) to see if she had become more comfortable with her surroundings. It was always the same though, she would cry and I would turn her back towards me.
I remember the day that she let me turn her around and keep her there. It was also the day where her splashes became more confident. I started bringing her rubber ducky and a water book in the water with us. She slowly became more adventurous and would play with her toys happily. Her splashes were huge and she didn’t even care if she got splashed in the process.
Then came the day that she stood up in the tub (with me holding her of course). She even walked up to the faucet and played with the bath sponge that dangled from it. She has become a confident little girl in the bathtub all thanks to a mom who didn’t push her to overcome her fears. I could have forced her to have miserable screaming baths until she either gave up crying or maybe she would have never got over her fear of the bathtub. Instead, I listened to what she needed and held her hand through the tough times. I have not yet attempted to let her have a bath by herself, it did take four months to get to the point that we are at now. I won’t do it until she is ready even if that means I am still bathing with her when she is four.