I have an 18-month-old daughter. She loved having a bath from birth, and now all of a sudden she screams her head off when I mention bath or give her a bath. It's really stressing me out. I don't know what to do.
We had something like this for a while but when our son was a bit younger. He also had a similar kind of phobia with sand closer to your daughter's age.
What helped for us was to find some new ways to make it fun so he was too interested to worry about being afraid. Could you try getting some new bath toys to get her excited? Or let her take one of her favourite non bath toys with her - plastic is obviously easier to dry off after and not get ruined.
With the sand phobia, it helped when our son discovered he could do stuff with it - move it around, make shapes, put it in containers etc. He also enjoys this kind of play with water - pouring from one container to another, pouring over a toy. You could try this from outside the bath to get her interest. It will help her to have positive feelings associated with the bath and bathroom.
Another thing which helped but may seem odd was taking him swimming. Our local pool has a nice warm kids pool and I think being able to go in together and see other kids enjoying helped him to enjoy the water again. They also had some toys in the pool which helps.
Finally, once you do manage to tempt her back to the bath, be very careful for a while about doing anything that might upset her, like splashing water on her head or getting it in her eyes. You don't have to do this forever, just until she feels more comfortable and gets her confidence back.
Did not mention if you were giving her the baths in a normal tub but that is what I assume.
I can offer 3 alternatives but I would guess the last one wont work at this time:
- Take a shower with her. It's harder to wash their hair (water can't be kept out of their face) but that can be done separately.
- Be with her in the bath, get in first.
- We used a big (around 60L) transparent container bin. The size of a bathtub was too much (space or water, not sure).
We didnt need to do it for long either, once they were confortable in the bin and got used to playing in the water they were ready for the normal one.
I hate to bring this up, but it has to be said. Especially because other question(s) have been asked with similar characteristics and just pointed back to this one. Any drastic change in behavior can also be a sign of abuse. This does not mean that any time there is a change in behavior like this that there was abuse. There could be a totally innocent explanation for this - kids will sometimes develop a phobia very quickly for some reason that is completely beyond us. But sometimes it is abuse. If there has been a baby-sitter or someone else involved in bath time, and especially if the child has also started displaying some fear of that person, then you need to look into this. But again, don't jump to conclusions, it could be something else entirely, and I hope and pray it is something else.