Babies may have their first bath 24 hours after their birth. While most babies grow used to bathing and enjoy it, some may consistently dislike it to the point that it becomes difficult to bathe the baby. Switching to sponge baths could be a temporary solution, but you will have to figure out a way to make the baby used to bathing eventually.
There could be several reasons why a baby hates taking a bath. In this post, we present the reasons why a baby dislikes taking a bath and ways to make them feel comfortable while bathing.
Why Do Babies Cry During A Bath?
- Change in temperature: Placing the baby in a bathtub with cold water could startle them, causing them to cry. It is also not ideal for the baby’s body, which is still developing adequate body temperature regulation.
- Water or soap in the eyes: Placing the faucet close to the baby’s eyes or rubbing the soap close to the baby’s eyes could lead to discomfort.
- Uncomfortable bathtub: Some bathtubs may not have a comfortable base, making it difficult for the baby to sit comfortably.
- Tiredness before bathing: If the baby is tired or exhausted before bath, they are likely to cry while bathing.
- Hunger: A hungry baby is a cranky baby, and bathing them could worsen the situation. A hungry baby is likely to continue crying even after the bath.
- Cooling off quickly: Bathing for too long or not covering the baby with a towel immediately after a bath could cause them to lose body heat quickly. It can make some babies cry soon after a bath.
- Skin problems: Some babies with skin issues, such as eczema, may find contact with water uncomfortable. In some cases, it is the skincare product causing discomfort rather than water.
How To Stop Babies From Hating A Bath?
Parents may check for the possible reasons behind the baby hating a bath. You may observe the surroundings during baths or check the time when your baby usually begins to cry while bathing. Identifying the underlying cause and addressing it usually helps make bathing a comfortable experience for the little one.
1. Select the right time for bathing
Bathe the baby when they are well-rested and not hungry. It will help prevent any crankiness or discomfort due to fatigue or hunger. However, avoid bathing right after they have fed since it could make some babies uncomfortable. Instead, wait for at least 30 minutes after a feed to begin bathing.
2. Set the right bathroom temperature
It is ideal to pre-warm the bathroom by closing all the windows or ventilators before the baby’s bath. You may also place a heater in the bathroom to warm it before the baby’s bath. The bathroom’s ambient temperature should be warm and comfortable.
3. Choose the right bathtub and tub mat
Pick a baby bathtub that is ideal for your little one. Experts recommend a hard-plastic bathtub featuring contours that make it easy for the baby to sit in it. The bathtub’s interior texture should be ridged or have a pattern that prevents the baby from slipping into the water.
You may also pick a soft bathtub pad or mat that can provide insulation and make sitting in the bathtub comfortable for the baby. Remember, even if you select a bathtub or mat with maximum grip, you must never leave the baby alone and always support their back and neck with your hands and arms.
4. Select the right skincare products
Pick the right soap for your little one’s skin. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mild soap with a neutral pH and without additives for the baby’s skin. You may use a mild shampoo with the same qualities for the baby’s scalp.
You may use soaps sparingly to prevent the baby’s skin from becoming dry. Babies with skin conditions may require specialized skincare products. Speak to a pediatrician or pediatric dermatologist to learn the best soap and shampoo for your baby’s skin.
5. Maintain the right water temperature
Fill the bathtub with warm water. The water should not be hot, and you must check it with your elbow before placing the baby in it. The maximum temperature limit for babies’ bathwater is 120°F (48°C). Also, once you undress the baby, place them in the bathtub immediately to prevent them from feeling cold.
6. Use hands to clean the baby gently
Take the water from the tub in your hands and gently pour it over the baby’s body instead of using a faucet. While bathing, if some soap or water goes into your baby’s eyes, use a dry towel to wipe their face gently. Make sure you support the baby’s back and head while washing their torso.
7. Wash the baby’s head last
Rinse and clean the baby’s head at the end of the bathing session to prevent them from feeling cold quickly. Wet the baby’s scalp with water, apply the shampoo in your hands, and gently massage their scalp. Take water in your cusped hands and gently rinse off the shampoo.
If your baby is excessively bothered by water or soap running down their face, you may use a baby bath cap, which can direct the water away from the baby’s eyes.
8. Keep the towel ready
Wrap the baby’s torso and head with a towel the moment you take them out of the bathtub. It can keep the baby warm and prevent loss of heat. Use the towel to pat-dry the baby gently. You may use towels or bathing gowns specially designed to keep babies warm after a bath.
9. Stick to a routine
Select the time and days for bath and stick to it to establish a routine. It could be especially helpful for babies who cry during baths for no apparent reason since a bathing routine will help make things predictable for them.
10. Change the frequency of bathing the baby
Some babies may only cry when bathed often. It could be that you are bathing your baby more than needed. Bathing your baby thrice a week with a gap of two days between each bath is sufficient during the first year. Bathing the baby often may dry their skin and also vex the baby quickly.
If you wish to bathe the baby every day, you may keep the duration short and use soap only for three baths per week and use plain water for the remaining baths.
11. Consult a doctor if the baby continues to hate bathing
If your baby continues to hate baths or becomes excessively upset during or after it, speak to a pediatrician. If your baby has a skin issue, your baby’s doctor may recommend you a specific bathing routine. Some babies with skin problems may even require very few baths a month. Discuss the bathing routine and any concerns related to hygiene with your doctor.
Bathing is an essential activity in baby care. Most babies grow used to bathing and even enjoy splashing water during baths. Checking for possible reasons for hating a bath and tackling them can usually make bathing a comfortable experience for the little one. It is vital to keep bathing safe for infants. If your baby continues to hate baths for no apparent reasons or despite your best interventions, take the opinion of a healthcare provider.
2. Dipesh Navsaria, Bathing Your Baby; American Academy of Pediatrics
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4. Bathing and Skin Care for the Newborn; University of Rochester
5. Infant Water Safety: Protect Your New Baby from Drowning; American Academy of Pediatrics