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Expert Q&A:
What can I do to ease my baby's fear of the bath?

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My son is 20 months old. About six months ago, he began to get very frightened when I bathed him. Now he will take a bath, but cries if I am not kneeling by the bath the entire time. What can I do to ease his fears?


It's very common for babies this age to develop fears of objects or situations they previously took in their stride. In addition to bathing, your baby may become afraid of the dark, of thunder or even of the vacuum cleaner and other loud appliances. This is evidence of their growing cognitive skills. For now, stay close to him during the bath and be calm: your words and presence will reassure him. You may also want to include books about the bath - or about other fears he may have developed - in his bedtime ritual. You could try the bathtime-is-fun approach with bubbles or a new rubber duck. It's often difficult to find out if a fear has developed because of a real event or an imagined one, since most children this age don't have a vocabulary large enough to express themselves. As his language skills develop, however, you can talk about these fears, which may help subdue them. Be ready though - new ones will appear.

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