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Bathtime Tips

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Your child never minded bathtime as a baby, and he still enjoys the pool. So why has he become a tub-resistant toddler? It probably isn't due to a fear of the water, says Denaye D. Barahona, a licensed clinical social worker and child-behavior expert in Evanston, IL. “As a baby he was content to follow the schedule you set, but now he has his own ideas of what he'd like to do. Taking a bath instead of, say, playing might not exactly be what he had in mind,” Barahona explains.It's not just about the bath. He may be resisting the start of the wind-down for bed.

Don't get in the habit of skipping baths to avoid a confrontation. Instead, tweak the timing so it doesn't interrupt the same activity each day. If you tend to give your child a bath right before bed, for instance, the two may be linked in his mind and what's he's actually resisting is the start of the wind-down. Alternate with some morning baths so tubtime marks the start of a fun day rather than the end. Try these tips, too:

1. Give your child a heads-up five minutes before scrub-down time so he isn't surprised.

2. Run the water with the bathroom door closed, then bring him in—the faucet can be loud to little ears.

3. If your guy seems to be scared of the drain, put a few inches of water in the tub, add a small toy, then pull the stopper to demonstrate that even his little plastic boat is too big to disappear.

4. Let him watch a video on your smartphone or tablet while he bathes (just be sure to invest in a waterproof case to protect it first).

5. Act confident during the bath, and give him a big hug after so it ends on a positive note.

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