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Bath Time Tips for a Fussy Baby


Lately, our daughter has been less than thrilled about bath time. At best, she puts up with it; at worst, she screams at the top of her lungs and attempts to climb out of the tub. Like any good parents, we turned to the internet for answers.

Last week, we shared some of the tips we found on our Facebook and Instagram and got a few more from people in the comments. We tried them out and figured we’d share how they went.

Why Your Baby Hates Bath Time

Our daughter used to love bath time. So, when all of a sudden, she started hating it, we were at a bit of a loss.  According to what we read, this can be caused by the baby having a bad bath time experience, like getting soap in her eyes and being afraid that it will happen again.

There are a few instances where we had to rush bath time, or we were at someone else’s house and didn’t have our usual setup that could have led to a bad experience that caused the change.

Another possible reason is that she was overtired. Like many families, bath time is part of our bed time routine. A tired baby will be fussier and potentially more difficult at bath time.

Some sources say that a hungry baby can be more difficult at bath time, but we always bathe her after she eats. The temperature of the bath can also be a problem. If the baby isn’t comfortable, they are more likely to get upset.

Tips for Bathing a Fussy Baby

Here are the tips that we found:

  • Lower the baby slowly into the water to get used to the temperature
  • Try an earlier bath time
  • Bathe together
  • Distract baby with songs and conversation
  • Make sure baby is fed first
  • Try bubble bath

We tried them out and here’s how it went.

Lower the Baby Slowly into the Water

Lowering the baby slowly into the water so that she gets used to the temperature is something we always try to do. Since it was always part of our routine, it didn’t really make a difference.

Try an Earlier Bath Time

We tried bathing our daughter after lunch, hoping that she would be less tired and more receptive to bath time. She definitely had more energy for screaming and flailing. It didn’t really do anything to improve her attitude towards bath time.

Bathe Together

Getting in the tub with her seemed to be the most effective strategy. She seemed to enjoy bath time again, playing with toys and patiently letting us clean her. When she’d had enough, she would just try to climb out.

Distract Baby with Songs and Conversation

Distracting our daughter with songs and conversation is our go-to when she gets upset. The problem is that it doesn’t work for very long. It may be enough to get her through a quick diaper change, but doesn’t do much for bath time.

Make Sure Baby is Fed First

Feeding our daughter before bath time was something we already did. It’s just more practical to bathe her after dinner, because she gets pretty messy when she eats. Hungry babies are more fussy, so this seems like good general practice.

Try Bubble Bath

Someone suggested that we try adding bubble bath to make it a bit more fun for her. This may have helped a bit to distract her. It definitely made things more fun for the both of us. It probably helped somewhat, but distractions don’t seem to last long.

The Verdict

Bathing together was the most effective thing that we did to keep her calm in the bath. Maybe it’s the added sense of security that helps. The challenge is that this isn’t very convenient. There’s a lot to do at bed time and having to dry yourself off and change just adds more to it. We don’t plan on jumping into the tub with her every night.

Our approach has been to get in the tub with her for a few nights to get her comfortable with bath time again, then switching to it just being her in the tub. This has worked pretty well, but she is still more fussy when she is alone in the tub.

Like everything else, it’s a constant process of trial and error. She is changing every day and what worked last week may not work today.

We hope that sharing these tips and our experience has been helpful to you. If you have any other tips, please let us know in the comments.

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