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Making Bathtime Fun Again

Your kid used to love his bath, but now the sound of running water sets off his own waterworks. Toddlers can suddenly develop a fear of taking a bath, usually after a change in routine -- like going from an infant tub to a big tub -- or after slipping or getting water in their eyes.

But you can make bathtime fun again, says Tanya Remer Altmann, M.D., author of the upcoming Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents' Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers. Try these simple steps for a week:

Introduce new bath toys outside the tub. Let your toddler play with his boats on dry land, then show him how much fun it is to float them in water.

Make the bath not a bath. Fill the tub with just enough water to cover his feet and let him sit and splash around in there, gradually adding water as he gets more comfortable.

Keep it safe. Buy a nonskid mat; he'll feel more secure if he's not slipping around.

Give him a heads-up. Warn him when you're going to pour water over his head. Help him tilt his head back, and have him hold a washcloth over his eyes.

Keep the focus on fun. He doesn't need to be soaped and shampooed every day.

If he still resists after a week, don't push it. You can try again in a few weeks with new ideas, such as making up a funny song or asking him to help one of his dinosaurs get used to the bath. "Just like with potty training or other milestones," says Dr. Altmann, "your child may just need a break."

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