Typically bath time is either an extremely preferred activity or a least preferred activity for parents and children alike, as there are many sensory components involved with bath time. Bath time is supposed to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience, which can ideally calm a child down before bedtime or help to wake a child up in the morning before starting the day. When bath time becomes a least preferred activity it can become a dreaded weekly event and can cause extra stress for the entire family. Here are some reasons why your child may not like bath time.
5 Reasons Your Child May Not Like The Bath:
- Tactile system: your child feels the temperature of the water against his skin (e.g. hot, cold); he uses a variety of bubbles and shampoos which can be slippery and foamy; he uses a washcloth and towel which can be rough and scratchy
- Vestibular system: your child tips his head back for hair washing, causing his head to be out of the midline position and a change in the position of his ear canals
- Auditory system: your child hears the water running and splashing, which may be amplified if the bathroom has an echo or if he takes a bath with siblings which can increase the noise level
- Olfactory system: your child smells the different products (e.g. shampoo, body wash, bubble bath) and different environmental smells (e.g. the blow-dryer sometimes has a burning smell)
- Oral motor system: your child feels the water on his lips as he blows bubbles through his mouth or holds his breath during hair washing as to not get soap or water in his mouth
Similarly, your child may also have fear of the water, just as he would at swimming lessons (e.g. putting his face into the water, getting water in his eyes, or having a “bad” experience prior and he is now scared to do the same activity again- such as slipping underwater unexpectedly or falling on a slippery surface as the bathtub or pool deck can be very slippery). If this is the case for your child, it is important to help him to work through his fear and regain confidence and control over the situation. This can be done by talking through each step of bath time with your child and gearing him up for the activity before it even begins.
Stay tuned for my next blog which will address strategies to work through these bath time difficulties.
Note: If any of the above qualities apply to your child, talk with an occupational therapist to work through these sensory hypersensitivities.