17 May 2022

Me & You with Jennifer Griffiths: Bath time AND hair wash … buzzing with bubbles or shampoo screams?

Me & You with Jennifer Griffiths: Bath time AND hair wash … buzzing with bubbles or shampoo screams?

Bath time AND hair wash … buzzing with bubbles or shampoo screams?

I had a lovely bath a couple of nights ago, chocolate, candles and my book … bliss.

I know that’ll be the same for many of you (a moment to relax!). But, for some of our little people, it’s definitely NOT a moment to relax.

So, this week, after chatting to my parents, thinking of my own child’s bath time experiences (and mine), I thought, yes - that’s the theme for the article this week.

For some little people bath time is fun with toys galore, whether shop bought or home-made (quick ideas; give them three different sized measuring jugs, or various sized empty bottles, washing up liquid squeezy bottles (if you don’t mind a wet floor!), let them take in their tea set, dinosaurs to wash (and dolls of course). 

But for some, bath time is not so good, maybe they slipped and had a bump (idea again; get a bath mat for inside the bath) maybe they hurt themselves on the tap (always cover with a cloth).

Whatever the reason, there is always a reason, they are worried, scared, anxious and simply do not want to get in, if you put them in they cry (or scream) and simply want to get out. The result, they are upset and you are too.

So, let’s think of solutions …

Try using a baby bath, maybe in the bathroom - but NOT in the bath, not yet anyway. If they won’t get in the baby bath, bring the baby bath to the kitchen (no carpet) and encourage water play with the emphasis on ‘no YOU can’t get in.'

Make sure you play too - have fun, don’t be tempted to splash, just take it calm, relaxed and enjoy.

Maybe add food colouring, the cars, whatever your little one enjoys.

Don’t even think about talking about ‘you could get in’ this is meant to be fun, a no pressure, ‘let's see what fun water is experience.’

Once they are happy playing with the water, try washing their toes, (toes not feet we are taking this slow) let them do yours too - do enjoy it. Then another time feet too and next time, ‘ooh that is nice, think I’m going to stand in it now, not you though, just mummy’ (unless they insist of course) Just keeping calm, them seeing you relaxed, having fun will help them to learn there is no need to be afraid or worry.

PLEASE, this is so important, be ready for the wet floor, don’t say, be careful, don’t shout ‘oh no the mess’, don’t say ‘stop’ - these expressions will simply reinforce the negative feelings.

Once they are happy standing in it, maybe sitting in, pop the baby bath in the bath (no water at first, then a trickle, then a bit more), eventually use the tap to fill water toys and let a tiny bit be in the bottom of the bath - encourage them to see this as a little bit and nothing to be afraid of.

Eventually, you’ll be able to have more water in the actual bath and less in the baby bath.

Whilst you are transitioning to the ‘big bath’, try activities in the bath that don’t need water… try shaving foam writing, try bubbles or a bubble machine, and of course let them see you chilling in the bath.

If you are feeling really brave and don’t mind mess, get their big brother or sister involved - let them have a jelly bath - your little one doesn’t have to get in but they can play.

Again, it’s the same message bath time is fun!

BUT, whatever you do, whatever stage you are at, DO NOT TURN ON THE SHOWER! If they are already a little anxious (or very scared) to suddenly have water pouring down your head, in your eyes, ears and everywhere is simply going to make it worse! 

That does though, bring us on to hair washing. Most little people go through a phase of not liking their hair being washed, is it the bubbles in the eyes, (even if they can hold a flannel or sponge over them (yes another idea) the water pouring over them, the not being able to see, did they choke, is it the fear of what will happen?

We maybe don’t know BUT what we do know is, if we simply get cross and say, ‘I’m sick of this’, and pour the jug of water over their head anyway, wash their hair whilst they sob, scream, cry that this will NOT help. It’ll simply make it worse - it will definitely give them something to worry about, something to be scared of!

So, what’s the solution, I agree, they simply cannot never have their hair washed, but let’s be realistic if we take a calm approach this is not going to last forever - it is a phase.

So, what can you do, you can’t seriously leave bean juice in their hair, so after tea, after their beans, just wipe their hair with a warm flannel.

I know you wash their face and hands so a QUICK hair wipe should be no problem!

Start with just one warm wipe, then two, then three, then let the first have a little TINY bit of shampoo on.

See, again, build up slowly. And again, DON’T make a fuss! When this becomes the norm introduce this at bath time, THEN bring on dolls tea pot, yes the dolls tea pot!

Use this to trickle, yes trickle the water very slowly over the back of their head, build this up till you can do it all over BUT not down their face otherwise it’s back to square one!

Then, only then introduce the ‘just a drop’ of shampoo and again build slowly.

Maybe your little one can learn to lie down and have the water trickled, the shampoo dripped and eventually have their hair washed normally!

A last thought, and a simple solution too, some children worry that they will go down the plughole with the water, yes sounds crazy to me but not to them. So, show them that dolly doesn’t fit, that they are bigger than dolly, show them where the water comes out of the pipe outside, show them pipes when they are out and say, ‘no people in there, people are too big.'

Bath time, hair washing, whatever the problem, it’s a worry, their worry, accept that, think how they feel, how you would feel, be calm, have patience and understanding. Oh and bathing the dog together might help too!

All this talk of bathing, think I’ll get the bath running and the chocolate and candles out! Make sure you do too, after all, this will help you AND your child. xx

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