Q&A: 2-year-old hates the bath

Paula writes:

"My 2 year, 3 month old daughter intensely dislikes the bath.  She has
never really enjoying bathing, but we’ve made it tolerable with wind up
toys, bath crayons, etc.  Lately, just the mention of a bath and she
begins crying.  She really screams when we wash her hair and continues
to cry during the bath.  It’s become really difficult especially since
she needs more frequent bathing with all the playing outside.  I’ve
been unable to determine what about the bath she dislikes.  I’ve tried
a shower with me, a bath with me, bubbles, blowing bubbles, sticky
letters, and every bath toy imaginable.  Nothing seems to work and it’s
only getting worse.  Any ideas?"

Could she be afraid that she’s going to go down the drain?

Mister Rogers did a segment on one of his shows demonstrating how it’s physically impossible for a person to get sucked down the drain. Before I saw that, it never occurred to me that a kid could be afraid of going down the drain. But sure enough, when my son was an older toddler he went through an anti-bath phase because he was afraid of going down the drain. (We showed him how his toys couldn’t fit down the drain, so there was no way he could, either. It took a few times, but he got it.) It seems like the fear would be even worse for a kid who already didn’t like bathing.

If it’s not a fear of going down the drain (or something else you can figure out–and remember that it doesn’t have to make sense to you), I’m not sure what else you could do besides try to wait it out. An older child will be able to understand that the bath is going to happen anyway, so she might as well just get it over with. But there’s no way a 2-year-old can process that. So aside from running her under the sprinkler or garden hose every night, I’m not sure how you can make it an easy experience. (Unless you can delegate the bathing to your partner, in which case it still won’t be an easy experience for your daughter, but it’ll be an easy experience for you. <insert evil laugh>)

Did anyone have a 2-year-old bath resistor? What did you do? Did it help?

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