Ask AF: Fear of Bath Time

If your child panics every time she's placed in the tub, you might start to feel concerned.

Q: We recently came home with our nine-month-old daughter. She screams whenever we bathe her. Bath time in her orphanage must have been rough. How can we help her overcome this fear of bath time and feel safe and happy in the tub?


A: As you surmise, bath time in her orphanage was likely not the enjoyable experience you are attempting to create now. In general, bathrooms are not child-welcoming places — bright, cold, scary noises! Take a complete break from the bathroom for a week or two. (Keep your daughter clean with a washcloth and soap.) The break from a difficult routine may make a big difference.

As your daughter feels more comfortable with you and her new home, re-enter the bathroom slowly, and allow her to have positive experiences there — by playing with her on the bathroom rug, or letting her sit on dad’s lap and watch you in the tub. You can also introduce water play outside the bathroom: Put a few toys in a small tub of water on your kitchen floor. Keep in mind that you may need to introduce many new experiences in a similar fashion.

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