When alone with my 10 mo son at bath time, I place his tub in the shower stall, shower first, and then clean him.

For the past couple nights, he’s suddenly started scream crying because he can’t reach the shower drain in the middle of the stall floor.

When I briefly moved his tub closer, he started putting his fingers in the drain hole. I stopped that immediately as the holes are dirty, being a drain and all. This made him angrier.

Tonight, he didn’t even get near the drain but still lost it for over 10 minutes, until we were done.

I’ve tried giving him another toy in the tub, moving the tub over the drain once the crying started (figured he wouldn’t see the drain and could calm down), and singing aloud. I also tried covering the drain with a wash cloth but that just blocked the drain and had no impact. In other circumstances, I’d put my son in his crib so I could calm down but he’s already wet so I’m stuck. Naturally, I don’t want to leave him alone in the shower.

We’ve done this for 2-3 months now and this has never been a problem until now.

Are there any other techniques to distract or disinterest my son from the drain, and break the scream crying cycle?


4 Answers 4


I'd give rag baths for a few weeks to separate him from the craziness of the situation. Then, when it's not bathtime, so it's not a stressful moment, I'd let him touch it and play with water going down it. Then coach him to wash his hands cause it's dirty if you feel strongly about the germs or dirt.

  • This is a practical answer. Let him mess with it. He probably just wants to understand what it feels like. Hands can be washed. Nice first post! Dec 3, 2018 at 1:31
  • I like this answer the most. We ended up moving bath time out of the shower for a bit. And letting our child explore in a controlled situation with an opportunity to re-enforce hand washing is great.
    – Craig
    Dec 3, 2018 at 15:57

Have you considered letting him examine it once? Once he knows what it's about he might not be interested a second time.

  • I did let him examine it briefly. But once he put his fingers through the drain holes, I stopped it as there's hair in there, it's dirty, etc...
    – Craig
    Nov 28, 2018 at 20:28
  • 4
    So what? Dirty isn't dangerous. Run hot water down there beforehand, and wash his hands after.
    – swbarnes2
    Nov 28, 2018 at 23:27
  • 1
    @Craig please don't let this feel like you are being attacked here. I hope you don't feel that way. It's just a simple fact that parenting is a dirty job and it's only going to get dirtier. Kids get dirty and as long as you teach them to watch their hands, everything should turn out just fine. Dec 3, 2018 at 1:34
  • I do understand that kids get dirty. Further, we let him explore plenty. Nonetheless, my wife and I are not high on giving him access to the drain.
    – Craig
    Dec 3, 2018 at 15:56

I strongly suggest you let him explore the drain. It's not as "dirty" as you think, and it won't hurt him. He is curious and has a need to explore. One which you are not allowing and since the screaming. He needs to understand where the water goes in the same way he needs food and air. It's part of learning and growing.

If you're that concerned with the state of the drain then clean it before bath time. If you think his fingers may get cut or stuck then replace the cover with something else.

As an aside, if you think the drain is dirty, you have no idea what you're in for in just a few short years.


How about making it a “fun” but controlled introduction to bath time? If you have a separable shower head, bring it as close to the drain as possible and have him help you spray water directly down. Point out the swirling water with your own fingers, hold and trace his fingers around the drain or lightly touching it, and teaching the words “drain”, “down”, “goes away”, “bye bye water”. Then, play time’s over once he gets distracted which at that age should be under a minute.

My 3.5 year old has been fascinated with all drain mechanisms inside the home and outside since 1.5 but it was easier at that state because we could integrate language to satisfy curiosity.

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