My baby has always loved bath-time, almost since he was born. He learned to splash when he was only a couple of months old and loves to play around with the water, and over the past few weeks I've been giving him bath toys. He could stay in there as long as you let him, happy and letting all his energy out.

He's now 8 1/2 months, and the past few nights his behavior has changed. About 3 nights ago he suddenly started shrieking inconsolably in middle of the bath, and kept it up till he was taken out and dressed. The next night his behavior was the same, although I managed to distract him for a couple of minutes with his toys, but a bit later he went back to screaming. Tonight when we took him into the bathroom he started screaming as soon as he saw the water and kept it up all through the bath, acting terrified and miserable and not even paying attention to his bath toys.

I think the room and the water are warm enough (and not too hot), and nothing around him has changed. Why the sudden change of attitude?

  • I took the advice of 1 of the ladies And I was suprised n happy, I changed locations on where to put the tub, but didn't put no water in there , and gav him a sponge bath just putting lil water n soap on a rag n massaged his head n body, he did fine , by the end of the bath I was able to keep on putting water on him.. Thnx so much for the help..
    – user2981
    Jul 19, 2012 at 2:27
  • I also, have been having some issues with my 18 month old. She absolutely loves bath time but her mawmaw tried giving her a bath a week ago at here house and she screamed the whole time! Its like something scared her completely to death! Then my husband, her daddy, tried bathing her today while I was at work and she did the same to him. Any advice?
    – user6481
    Jan 14, 2014 at 23:41
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    babies do random things for no apparent reason, then they do other things for no apparent reason, this is how the short people act while they are learning the world
    – user6497
    Jan 15, 2014 at 6:10
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    If you have different bathroom, try it.
    – Jayan
    Jan 20, 2014 at 11:08
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    This isn't really am answer, just a personal experience. When my kids were about 2, old enough to communicate, we went through a similar phase with each of them. They would not take a bath, and acted like the water was acid, but they were more than happy to go swimming in the (same) bath tub.
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 26, 2019 at 13:22

6 Answers 6


Something happened. What, nobody knows except him. Probably he is now reminded of this when you give him a bath, and he starts screaming.

If you now force him to have a bath even though he is screaming, this will just keep on making it worse. For every bath you give him while he is screaming, the association between horror and bathing will be stronger.

You'll need to reverse that process, by "amateur behavioral therapy", ie, you will have to make bath time fun, and you will have to make him slowly get used to bath time again, making sure you keep it fun and happy at all times, and that you also take him out before he want to, so that he longs back to the bath, and remember that the next time.

I've gone through several spells like this with my daughter, the first one cause by her not liking the bathtub we used at my grandmas, one by her having to take a baths in the big tub at her aunties, as there was no small tub there, and one or two others of unknown origin.

Patient, calm and gradual approaches to bathing worked, starting with a patient, calm and gradual approach to the bath tub. Make sure he doesn't scream when he sees the bath tub. Let him play in it without water. The next day you fill it with water and let him splash, but do not put him into the water. The next day he might stand in the water and splash. Then next day wash him, while he is standing. The next day he can sit and play, and soon you'll be back to happy bath times again!

I used the same approach to get her used to using the big tub, which she originally was scared of.

  • 4
    While he hasn't accepted the bathtub yet but really needs to be cleaned, wash him outside the tub, by the sink, using a washcloth. Don't worry about water on the floor, except for slipperiness. Jan 16, 2012 at 9:12

8 1/2 months is close to one of the "wonder weeks", so it's not unlikely that something changed mentally. It's possible the sensory feeling of the water is a problem for him; while my older son never hated baths, he was always the kid at daycare that hated playing with mud/snow/yogurt/jello with his hands, and never finger painted - he just didn't like the 'icky' feeling on his hands. He might feel the same way about water; after all, being immersed in water is a lot of sensory information at once.

Showers as suggested elsewhere are a good idea, though that might be just as bad. Wash cloth baths aren't a bad idea either, at least in the short term. This is something that probably will go away over time, so I wouldn't worry too much about short-term fixes.

You might also try other forms of water play. My sons both really enjoy/ed playing with water in their high chair trays; just pour a cup of water in the tray and let him fool around in it, splashing and whatnot. Might be a good way to get him used to water in a positive, safe environment - and then move to a water table or something else with more water in it.


Something happened. What, nobody knows except him. Probably he is now reminded of this when you give him a bath, and he starts screaming.

This is absolutely correct. If you continue with the 'forced' (for lack of a better word) bathing, then it'll wind up being miserable forevermore.

What is it? could be some kinda soreness on his li'l bum. maybe he had . . . well i dunno what you'd call it in a nice way, but let's just call it 'diaper juice' . . . maybe he had diaper juice that chafed his li'l rectum or in a fat crease and the water/soap was irritating. You might check him out closely. I'm truly just grasping here, but the bottom line is that it probably had to do with something that was physically irritating, and now he want's nothing to do with bathtime. be sure to get into all his little creases with the wipes when you're cleaning him up, and to do a good crease-rinse before actual washing.

I would suggest that you change up bathtime completely. make it different. how do you do that? Take a shower. you with him. hold him in the shower with you, let the water splash over him, let him tongue the jets, chew on a towel, etc etc. I alwasy held with one arm with the other arm supporting so you're holding with both arms and it's pretty sturdy.

Then after a few minutes of that, set down the bath chair in the tub and put him in it with the water falling towards him. This works best if you have a hand-nozzle shower as you can point it wherever you want and change the stream to something soft. sure there's no bath toys, but he'll love being in there with either parent.

do this 3-5 times. The point is that you're hoping he forgets and you can go back to baths.

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    I found that my kids HATED showers until they were about 4. I wanted to take them into the shower for expediences sack but that was just not happening. Jan 17, 2012 at 17:46
  • @morahhochman, same with mine. They seem to have found it too irritating, their skin was just so sensitive that the shower tickled them unbearably. Jan 17, 2012 at 23:05
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    If you are showing with your baby, if they are wearing a shirt, they aren't as slippery.
    – nGinius
    Jan 18, 2012 at 1:09
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    @morahhochman - I live in the Netherlands where showers are the norm, and kids typically stop using the baby tub around two years old. The advice we got is to pour some drops of water over our son's face whenever bathing him, from day 1. And to start taking him into the shower with us as well, as soon as we felt ready, but essentially from day 1 would have been fine. Otherwise, kids have a hard time adjusting and are normally afraid of the shower. The Dutch would know :)
    – Ana
    Jul 19, 2012 at 9:57
  • I showered with both my kids from about two weeks, if not sooner (Dutch too). But be careful, they can be slippery when wet. Always maintain a firm grip.
    – SQB
    Jan 14, 2014 at 7:16

Something is scaring or upsetting him. Change the routine.

I think 9 months is old enough for showers. Maybe try that?

Just hold him, sit on the floor and be very careful (to not drop him, splash too much water in his face, etc).


Is he having other sensory issues that have changed? IE- need to always have blankets or never wanting blankets This is the only thing I would be worried about, if it is the case call the doctor. If not then... Try taking a bath with him, that will certainly change things up.


We found this as we had the same last night. Our girl is about 8.5 months. On Friday she loved bath time as usual, Saturday we went out for our first overnight stay without her and left her at ours with her grandparents. They said she didn't like her bath time but swear nothing happened and I believe them. On Sunday we went to bath her and she went hysterical, really scared, shaking uncontrollably and inconsolable for 5 minutes.

When she calmed down we tried again and it was like the very idea of going back in freaked her out. She tried to climb up us to safety as we lowered her down and as soon as her toes hit the water she went nuts again. We gave up that night and I googled so found this page.

Today (Monday) we put her in the bath with her toys and without water - she didn't like that at all at first but my wife got in bath and sat down with baby on her lap. After a bit she did eventually show some interest in her toys but never got off her lap (unheard of for her as she has been crawling/won't stay still for 2 months already).

Later tonight we tried again and she didn't like being in bath without water but we derived to run a bath anyway and my wife got in first before I handed her our daughter. Little by little we were able to distract her, sponge her. When we tried to get her to stand in the water she didn't like it so my wife picked her up again and soothed her. We tried again and this time progress she was OK. Long story short by the end of that bath time she was sitting & playing and happy in the bath again. My wife even managed to get out the bath and our daughter remained happy.

So relieved and hope that means tomorrow's bath time will be back to her normal happy time. Will post back if not

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