I used to assume that babies were supposed to just LOVE baths. After all, that’s what baby shampoo advertisers would like us to believe, right? That is, until I had a baby that obviously had no interest in starring in a soap commercial. She would be okay while getting lathered up. Then she would get that transitioning-to-fussy face…which quickly escalated into five-alarm inconsolable screaming upon removal from the bath.
I’d like to be okay with letting that sour crust of vomit build around her neck, and just forgo both our bath time misery entirely until this phase passes. But that would be a wee bit unsanitary. And smelly. Through some desperate web searching, I found some suggestions that getting pulled from the bath might feel like being “born” all over again–going from being naked in warm liquid in a small space, to open, cold air and bright light. So I tried to make the bathroom as womb-like as possible for her (minus the deafening sound of blood rushing through major arteries). Here’s the ridiculous but effective routine that worked for us–and might for you, too:
1. Make sure she’s not hungry/crabby/tired/in that waking “window” of time when she’s easily upset.
2. Pray fervently to the bath time gods. Light some candles. Offer a sacrifice of the finest handcrafted goat’s milk soap. (Just kidding).
3. Turn off the lights and use daylight from the bathroom window.
4. Pre-heat the bathroom to luxurious sauna temperature using a small portable heater.
5. Leave a pair of large, soft dryer-warmed towels right next to the tub.
6. Run juuuust enough bathwater (in the perfect temperature) in her plastic infant tub so that only her bottom and legs are partially submerged.
7. Get right into the tub with her so I’m facing her, and engage her attention with a sugary-sweet enthusiastic voice. Distraction is everything, right?
8. Cleanse all chins, folds and crevices as quickly as possible using the smallest bits of water before she realizes she’s In.The.Bath.
9. Pull the bath plug to let most of the water out, then start gently drying her while she’s still in the tub.
10. The MOST important step. Very carefully remove her from the bath and immediately wrap her whole body in a cocoon of warm terrycloth, rocking her for comfort. If I remove her an iota too abruptly or don’t wrap her up fast enough, the scream-fest begins. In that case, I offer a bottle to see if something to eat will distract her, which generally works. We do what we can to survive bath time!
I’m looking forward to when all of this won’t be necessary. Maybe someday she’ll enjoy bathing like those mythical advertisement babies. But until then, we’ll stick with it!
Do you have a kid who fights bath time? What strategy do you use to get them in and out of the tub fuss-free?
Image by JilliBean on MorgueFile.com