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Hair Washing Wars

Aug17

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Advice Smackdown ArchivesHi Amy!

I’m in need of some quick and dirty (perhaps literally) bath time advice. My 22mo old loves pool time and bath time…so she is OK with water. Until it is time to wash her. And then it is like full-on panic/trauma/fight or flight. I feel awful (AWFUL) watching it unfold. I feel like if I were a neighbor who overhead the crying and pleading, I’d be tempted to call Child Protective Services. That bad.  I also have a 5 month old (i.e., my life is not lacking for useless baby gear; nor is it overflowing with free time or energy to devote to clean toddler hair. I mean, seriously? Is there even such a thing?). So I need some no nonsense ideas. (as opposed to loading up on random bath aids like shower visors, goggles and baby shower contraptions. unless they are some kind of miracle that I need more faith in)

What I’m really looking for is (a) Why God WHYYY? Can I do something to minimize the trauma (something that is super low maintenance)? (b) How long does this bath/shampoo-aversion thing last? (c) What is the least cleaning I can get away with? I already only shampoo her hair once a week (I’m not gonna lie, that is not much more than I shampoo mine, we aren’t very oily people she and I). She has curls and will let me condition her hair, which I do more frequently (go figure? I imagine this is because I condition her ends and shampoo her roots, which are closer to her face/eyes.) This child doesn’t really go for putting much of anything on her head (bows, ponytails, etc) so I’m doubting the visor or goggle thing will work. When she sees the shampoo time coming, she freaks out. So I don’t imagine asking her to lean back or do something equally peaceful/logical will work. My next plan was a foaming shampoo that is quick to wash out (i.e., can be rinsed off with a wash cloth). Am I overlooking some other simple solution(s)?

Failing that, do I have your permission to just never wash my child’s hair again? (kidding. kind of)

AH MAH GAH. The shampoo terrors. I remember them well. Noah had them from about your daughter’s age until…oh, I am sorry to do this to you, but THIS YEAR. As in SUPER RECENTLY, IN THE PAST COUPLE MONTHS.

He is going to be six.

And apparently, he got it from me, because my mother can tell you truly epic stories. The first of which occurred at my baptism. I was a very young but highly verbal toddler who apparently shrieked DON’T PUT WATER ON MY HEAD! at the minister.

He put water on my head. So I kicked him.

So my mom was never very sympathetic when I would wail on about Noah’s hairwashing terrors, because I put her through the exact same thing for YEARS. Until elementary school, apparently, which is when I started swimming lessons (I started them later than most kids because of chronic ear infections and surgery for tubes). I actually remember the night I decided to get over my fear and stuck my own head in the bathwater voluntarily. I then marched downstairs (bathing unsupervised FTW!) to proudly show my mom what I had done. LOOK I’M BRAVE NOW!

(She was…not as thrilled as I’d been expecting, because I’d forgotten the part that now my long, fine hair was sopping wet and would need to be combed, detangled and dried. By her. And this wasn’t supposed to be a “hairwash night.”)

With Noah, we tired all the usual tactics. No visors or anything (he hates hats), but I did buy one of those rinsing cup/pitcher things with the rubberized side that was supposed to go against his forehead and minimize the water in his eyes and face. I can’t find the exact model anymore on Amazon, which isn’t too surprising because it did not really work at all. It required cooperation from your child, as they needed to stay still and in a certain head-tilt position, and as you probably know, when you’ve got a wet, naked, slippery kid who is genuinely terrified out of their gourd by the mere SIGHT of the shampoo bottle, you aren’t getting any cooperation.

(It never occurred to me to try a shampoo that could be rinsed out with a washcloth — honestly I had no idea such a thing existed. If it does and it works, GO FOR IT.)

What helped Noah, in the end, was the same thing that helped me as a kid: swimming lessons. Not free fun play or those mommy-and-me groups in the pool, but actual instructional lessons. We enrolled him in February (also older than I would have liked, but his sensory/attentional difficulties needed to be worked through first) in group lessons and occasionally even lucked out with “private” lessons when the class wasn’t densely enrolled and he was the only kid to consistently show up. The teachers got him to put his face in the water, then to wear goggles and go completely underwater for a few seconds (all skills we’d tried and failed to teach him ourselves), and by the time he was going under to retrieve sunken toys I realized that the drama at bathtime had all but ended.

Was it a maturity thing? A confidence thing? Learning how to properly hold his breath? A realization that nothing bad would happen even if he DID get water in his eyes/nose/mouth?  I don’t know. But he lets me wash and condition and rinse his hair now.

(Though it would be great if he’d stop running from me every time he sees me approaching him with a hairbrush. Sigh.)

The problem, of course, is that our local YMCA doesn’t start actual instructional swimming lessons until age 3. (Before that it’s basically a glorified Gymboree class in the water, and while my kids enjoyed going and all, it never had any effect on our bath troubles.) (Ezra really hates hairwashing too, though not to the violent fight-or-flight level of Noah. He’s getting signed up for lessons this fall ON HIS BIRTHDAY I SWEAR.) Can you find “real” swimming lesson programs for a 22-month-old? I don’t know. And I certainly don’t know how much they’d cost, or if that investment would be worth it, as your daughter may ALSO need to simply get a little older and more mature before getting over her fear.

So how did we survive all those years of bathtub panic and screaming? (Oh my God, the screeeeeeeeeeeaming, and we live in a townhouse and my children’s bathtub is against the shared wall and I CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT OUR NEIGHBORS THOUGHT WAS HAPPENING.)

Not going to lie: I washed Noah’s hair when it looked dirty. And not a day before. Rarely more than once a week, IF THAT. Especially in the winter. Summer? Well, summer was harder, what with swimming and sweating and sunscreen. (Note that I’m talking about hair washing, not BATHING. I promise my kids aren’t completely filthy. I just don’t think their hair honestly needs washed all that much to look/feel/smell just fine.) (We’ve also been incredibly fortunate in the head-lice-scare department.)

And I just…did it as quickly and matter-of-factly as possible. Like, sorry dude, this has to happen but if you cooperate it will be over super quick. I usually gave him the choice between me wetting/rinsing his hair with a cup or small bucket or the shower head. (He never chose the shower head — that was the scariest option, so a toy cup was an “easy” choice in comparison.) I would give him a hand towel to put over his eyes either during or immediately after, and I would do my darnedest best to both minimize the water on his face AND go as quickly as possible, like a Band-Aid. Sometimes we’d do bath time earlier on hair wash nights, so I could dangle the promise of a pre-bedtime snack or an episode of Dora afterwards.

Sometimes, it was okay. Sometimes, it was awful. Sometimes, I TOTALLY delayed hairwashing until Friday night when the babysitter was coming and left her to deal with it, because I AM JUST THAT TERRIBLE. NOW YOU KNOW.

But it was not forever. It was longer than I would have liked, but not forever. It won’t be forever for your daughter, either.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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44 Responses to “Hair Washing Wars”

  1. Angela Aug 17 at 2:35 pm Reply Reply

    How about working on getting her to look at the ceiling?  Can you pick out some sort of decal to put up high for her to focus on while you rinse? There are all sorts of removable wall stickers these days, or maybe something fun to watch that can hang from the shower head?  I am wondering if one of those stretchy musical animals that hangs from a crib might help…then you would have both something to look at and an “it will be over when the music stops” time frame for her to think about.   (Like this: http://www.amazon.com/Gund-Baby-Pullstring-Musical-Duckens/dp/B003EE0BNU/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1313606085&sr=8-7)
    Once they learn that tipping their heads back really does keep the water out of their faces things have gone more smoothly for my kiddos.  

  2. HereWeGoAJen Aug 17 at 2:49 pm Reply Reply

    Depending on her hair, I do give you permission never to shampoo it again. My daughter has curly hair and had eczema. Her eczema totally went away when I stopped soap and shampoo. I use just water on her and she stays perfectly clean. I haven’t used any shampoo on her (with a few paint/glitter/playdough exceptions) for more than two years and she is just as clean as all the other toddlers.

  3. Heather Aug 17 at 2:56 pm Reply Reply

    My son got organic kid (made out of burning eyes) soap in his eyes once and it was GAME ON for screaming fits of fear and awfulness for awhile. Two things stopped it …
    1. Hair was first thing in the tub, he earned his bath toys by getting it done and out of the way. 2. He washed my hair one night (he was a tiny bit older than the writer’s child, but not much). He used the same tools and soap that I did, I talked through it with what I thought he was going through (“there is the soap, I don’t like soap in my eyes, I’m scared and don’t know what to do, I’ll try and be brave”). When he got soap in my eyes (standard no-tears kids soap) I just kept talking through it. It helped some, but I think just getting it out of the way at the start helped more.

  4. Tracey Aug 17 at 3:16 pm Reply Reply

    I was totally that kid. I used to lay on the counter and my mom would wash my hair in the sink. I would put a washcloth over my eyes (doubled up for extra protection) and my dad would make a barrier with his hands to keep the water out. The one time I would cooperate was at the salon – my mom used to take me with her and I would let them wash my hair. In fact, I told my mom that we should just get a sink like that.
    Eventually my parents got a removable shower head and let my do it myself – although, to this day I hang a dry washcloth over the shower bar so I can dry my face off in the shower.
    But I have no issues with swimming.

  5. Tracey Aug 17 at 3:25 pm Reply Reply

    I was totally that kid. My mom used to wash my hair in the kitchen sink. I used a doubled over washcloth and made my dad put his hands on my forehead to make another blocker. I did like getting my hair washed at the salon – in fact, I told my mom I didn’t understand why we couldn’t get a sink like that at home. Maybe try that?
    Once I got bigger, we got a hose thingie attachment for the shower and I did it myself. To this day, I keep a dry washcloth on the shower curtain rod to dry off my face if needed during the shower.
    But I have no issues swimming and I have always opened my eyes underwater. Go figure.

  6. Tracey Aug 17 at 3:27 pm Reply Reply

    Didn’t mean to spam the comments! Darn internet

  7. ahmielyn Aug 17 at 3:27 pm Reply Reply

    I employee a two-pronged approach: 1) a wet washcloth folded and handed to the kid to hold over her own eyes, and 2) encouraging her to tilt her head really far FORWARD. 

    It sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but if her head is tilted back then all the water runs down her face. When her head is tilted forward, the water tends to sheet down the sides of her face, especially if the hair is long enough to hang.  If the water misses her eyes and mouth, and if she has control over pressing the washcloth over her own eyes, it helps with the terror.  

  8. ahmielyn Aug 17 at 3:27 pm Reply Reply

    I employee a two-pronged approach: 1) a wet washcloth folded and handed to the kid to hold over her own eyes, and 2) encouraging her to tilt her head really far FORWARD. 

    It sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but if her head is tilted back then all the water runs down her face. When her head is tilted forward, the water tends to sheet down the sides of her face, especially if the hair is long enough to hang.  If the water misses her eyes and mouth, and if she has control over pressing the washcloth over her own eyes, it helps with the terror.  

  9. Mary Aug 17 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

    Our local YMCA, through our Parents As Teachers program, does offer swimming lessons for the under 3 crowd. We took them with our 7 month old, at the time, last winter. It’s really more of a water introduction class, but it helped us with his “getting his face wet in the tub” issues. If you can find them, it might help.

  10. Kim Aug 17 at 3:58 pm Reply Reply

    Wel,, we’re in our second year of swim lessons, and hairwashing is still a thing. Not the knockdown screaming meemie thing it once was, but still a thing. IMy 4yo gets two dry washcloths, folded into strips., We call thos her goggles, and she keeps them plastered across her eyes. SHe gets one for wetting her hair, and a fresh one for the rinse. We do use the rubbery cup. The leaning forward thing sounds interesting,but I’m not sure how well it owuld play. Ialso resort to the “gotta happen, here we go” approach when necessary

  11. Olivia Aug 17 at 4:04 pm Reply Reply

    Well, I’m just happy to see this is not just something my kid does. She’s almost 2 and a half and she’s been doing the screaming during hair washing (and conditioning) for quite a while. It seems better, but just yesterday was a scream fest. I have no advice. I’ve been trying to teach her to look up so the water doesn’t get in her face, but she still doesn’t get it. I just try to do it as quickly as possible.

  12. Melissa C Aug 17 at 4:28 pm Reply Reply

    We bought my 2.5 year old daughter one of those silly looking visors and she LOVES IT. Haven’t had a problem since.

  13. Stefanie Aug 17 at 5:15 pm Reply Reply

    I really like Heather’s suggestion of allowing her to see you wash your own hair in the tub and pour water to rinse–and wish I’d thought of it! My daughter hates the hair washing too, but a little while ago we had to give her eye drops for an eye infection. She was terrified of them until she saw me put some allergy drops in my eyes. Now she actually asks for it!

  14. Bekki Aug 17 at 5:30 pm Reply Reply

    My nearly 3 year old twins were awful about hair washing, but we have a system now and we get through with just a little whimpering and wiggling.
    1. An empty tub and a hand held shower. Once they figured out I would only spray their hair, and keep the water off their face, they were cool with it. It helps that the more they wiggle, the more likely they get water in the eyes or ears, so they tend to stay still. We also employ the dry washcloth on the eyes technique.
    2. The hair washing song from Yo Gabba Gabba and repeated requests to to be brave

  15. Kirsten Aug 17 at 5:37 pm Reply Reply

    I was also that kid, although probably not to the degree described here. My mom told me that, very early on in my infant bathing experiences, she learned that I needed to be facing the water — if she tried to lean me back, I would absolutely freak out on her. Later on, I do remember people having me lean back to rinse my hair, and I always hated it. I didn’t hate it so much in salons, but it always made me quite nervous (still does, just a bit). I didn’t hate the water-in-my-face part as much as the having to assume a very trusting and relaxed position when I was already upset and anxious over the potential water-in-the-eyes. So, I’d say give the washcloth over the eyes and lean very far forward idea a shot. (Unless the washcloth-rinse shampoo works. I’d think that would be Plan A.) Anxiety makes people want to curl up and protect themselves, and leaning forward seems more in line with that idea — it may help her feel more in control.

  16. Abby Aug 17 at 5:47 pm Reply Reply

    OH MY GOD this is so my son. He is about Ezra’s age and hates hair washing with a white hot, fiery passion. As in, he cries so much he occasionally makes himself throw up in the bathtub. He refuses to look up to keep the water out of his eyes, so I end up just dumping it on his head while he is screaming at me. He has done this since…10 months old? I think? With no end in sight. We have tried everything we can think of with none of it making a lick of difference. He just hates hair washings. LOVES to go underwater in the pool, though. Weird kid. Will be checking the comments for new ideas!

  17. JenVegas Aug 17 at 5:59 pm Reply Reply

    Can you use dry shampoo on a 22 month old? Cause I vote for that if possible. Also I was totally afraid of getting water in my eyes and in my nose for a long time when I was little. I would go into the ocean, into pools, take baths, whatever but I always held my nose and sqqqqueeeezed my eyes shut as hard as possible whenever there was a possibility of getting water in/up there. And then one day my dad said “What’s gonna happen? You’re not going to die. Just exhale while you’re going under and you’ll be fine.” So I did. And I was.

  18. EG Aug 17 at 8:30 pm Reply Reply

    My 29 month old has been going through this for the past 8-10 months. I can’t take the sobs of terror and the violent involuntary shaking that happens when we attempt to wash his hair. So I will admit here, amongst you understanding folks, that we’ve stopped washing his hair completely. I wipe his hair down with a wet wash cloth and call it done. So far he doesn’t seem any worse for wear, but I’m a little dismayed to hear this might go on for years!

  19. Julie Aug 17 at 8:54 pm Reply Reply

    My 2.5 yo has good days and bad days with shampoo. I basically use Amalah’s method, with the addition that I can sometimes get him to lay down on his back and pretend to swim and sing a silly swiming song to at least rinse the worst of the shampoo out of the back of the hair before going for final rinse. Some days he’ll even let me scoop the water over his forehead in that position as long as I’m really careful and don’t get any in his eyes. We have a handheld shower head, so on the bad days sometimes I’ll have to resort to ignoring the screams and hosing him down with that as quickly as possible. (Also the method I used when he went through his “scared of baths” phase.)

  20. Julie Aug 17 at 8:57 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, and I second those who say you don’t need to wash the hair unless it actually gets dirty. Otherwise, just rinsing is fine. Google the shampoo free movement – many adults do it, and kids have even less oil production. I don’t go that far (I do baking soda wash and vinegar rinse for myself), but I don’t think your average kid needs hair washed more than once a week unless they got something in it.

  21. Rachel Aug 17 at 9:35 pm Reply Reply

    We actually use the opposite approach with our 2.5yo, which is to wet his head every night even if we weren’t shampooing. We found that if we took a few days off he would totally loose his shit when we put water on his head. When we wet it every night he seems to accept it (more, he still usually complains but not as much) as part of the routine.

  22. v Aug 17 at 10:08 pm Reply Reply

    tips
    (1) look up “nopoo” — it’s a whole movement … most shampoos are toxic and unecessary. many adults are not washing their hair with soaps now.

    (2) cut her hair until she grows out of the phase. long hair is just a mild form of vanity at that age.  can’t get lower maint than a buzz cut.

  23. Jessica Aug 17 at 10:43 pm Reply Reply

    I often use regular baby shampoo and still just rinse with a wet washcloth. I just get it really wet, have him tilt his head back (just tell him to look at the ceiling). Then I start at the front and “stroke” back while squeezing the washcloth and follow right behind it with my other had to keep the water away from his face. Takes 3-4 passes to get all of the shampoo out, and I’ve never gotten it in his face. Two caveats, though: 1) He is not afraid to start, so might be more cooperative. 2) He doesn;’t have a ton of hair (2ish inches long and somewhat sparse), so rinsing isn’t that much of a challenge. My son is 27 months now, but I’ve pretty much always done it this way.

  24. Kate F Aug 17 at 11:15 pm Reply Reply

    My son is almost 1 and is impressively loud about getting his hair rinsed. I’ve been using the tap lately–it’s a clashing tub so the faucet is pretty high up and he LOVES running water, so I just kind of lean him forward under the tap for a sec. It takes 2 seconds vs 900 rinses of water from a cup, so by the time he’s mad it’s over and he can play.

  25. Kate F Aug 17 at 11:16 pm Reply Reply

    Clawfoot tub, not clashing. Damn you, autocorrect!

  26. GJ Aug 17 at 11:28 pm Reply Reply

    The thing that stopped the crying fits for my now-21-month-old was warning her that I was going to put water on her head, and telling her how many cups of water I’m going to pour; also, I do it the same way every time. I use one cup of water to get her hair wet (“I’m going to put one cup of water on your head now—ready? Go!”), and three cups of water to rinse it. This means I have to watch how much shampoo I use, but that’s okay. I count the cups loudly as I pour them, and she still usually sputters during cup 3, but it’s a token sputter. And then I offer her the washcloth (sometimes dry, but usually wet) to wipe off the excess water (and I’ve been working on just using my hands to do that). She was well on her way to full meltdowns when I got her hair wet or put shampoo on her head, but the counting really helped her, and I’m so glad!

  27. Megan Aug 18 at 4:52 am Reply Reply

    I had long curly hair that had to be washed every day because brushing it dry caused it to frizz out of control and then when I started swimming the chlorine had to come out. We used a washcloth over the eyes and a cup in the shower until I learned to lean in just enough to rinse it all myself. Important was that I got to hold the washcloth (they helped when I was small but I was in control). 

    After the shampoo was gone they always got my head wet and I think that’s how they managed to keep ‘issues’ focused on the soap and not on the wet head thing.

  28. AllyO Aug 18 at 7:51 am Reply Reply

    The washcloth on the face/quick rinse with a cup worked for us. Then peer pressure to take a shower (vacation with friends) finally put us on the path to less drama. When he was older having a towel at hand for him to wipe his face after the rinsing helped. Then finally swim lessons last year (at 5) did the trick for good.

  29. trish Aug 18 at 8:10 am Reply Reply

    We’ve been going through this for a few months — G is almost 23 mos. I keep a baby hair brush in with the bath toys. He’ll usually let me wet brush his hair with little fuss. This won’t get out sunscreen, but it does a good job with food and minor dirt.

    When he needs a real hair washing, I’ll put a tiny bit of shampoo on the brush and use that to wash, they a combo of the wet brush and wet washcloth to rinse. It’s hit or miss. Sometimes its ok and there’s just a little concerned whimpering. Sometimes he gets really worked up about it. 

    Getting him to look up at something (I tried several variations on this), worked for one or two times and then he was on to me. 

  30. Kim Aug 18 at 9:06 am Reply Reply

    So our 3 year old TOTALLY had this prob. Still does, some nights. He started around 3 years and 4 months old.. so.. delayed, considering most responders. But yeah – total BEATING of a bath-time.
    We did some ‘desensitization’ therapy, so to speak. Washed his little noggin EVERY night for like 2 weeks. We noticed less of a battle every night. When we’d skip 4 or 5 days between, it would be like SQUARE ONE all over again. He just basically accepted it and threw a mini-fit and moved on. Rather than went total ape-doodoo over it.
    And, I know I am sleep deprived right now, which is what I am blaming for not drawing the connection – but we totes DID have him in swim lessons the last few months…… so maybe that is why it’s gotten so much better??? Wow. I didn’t even think of that. I highly recommend swim lessons now, too! :)

  31. Christine Aug 18 at 10:02 am Reply Reply

    My daughter has this problem, this past year we discovered she had extreme allergy problems and this was the reason why she had so many ear infections and surgeries. The doctor told us that this also explained her behavior in the tub. He suggested water proof ear plugs, and she has been fine since.

  32. liz Aug 18 at 10:05 am Reply Reply

    Keep the hair as short as you can stand, and then just wipe it with a damp washcloth.

    For some kids, it’s the leaning backwards that’s the truly scary part. They feel unbalanced and like they’re going to fall, so the leaning forward idea makes sense.

  33. Clueless Aug 18 at 12:14 pm Reply Reply

    We havent had this problem but …..We also gofor leaning forward (always have). It’s much easier to distract with something cool to look at in the kid’s lap and we rarely have water in the eyes. I would also attempt to wash/wet more often. Like I said we haven’t had this problem but I would imagine that the behavioral idea of desensitization would come into play; you would need to use techniques to decrease anxiety, take babysteps (like water on the nap of the neck first then on the base of the head etc) and provide reinforcement after successful attempts.

  34. amy corinne Aug 18 at 12:54 pm Reply Reply

    We have this cup, which may be the same one that Amy was talking about in the original post: http://www.amazon.com/Munchkin-Shampoo-Rinser-Colors-Vary/dp/B001QKFBO8

    I love it. I can rinse my daughter’s hair without her having to tilt her head back and she loves it because water doesn’t get in her eyes.

    I think this may be the newer version and I can’t comment on how well it works though:

    http://www.amazon.com/Munchkin-Shampoo-Rinser-Colors-Vary/dp/B004HM35Y0/

  35. Emily B Aug 18 at 1:59 pm Reply Reply

    For little kids–as young as babies who can roll over on their own–you can try Infant Swimming Resource (infantswim.com).  They are short 10-minute lessons daily/several times a week that teach kids how to float and then when older how to swim/float/swim as a water survival technique.  My son has done it for 4 years and now his instructor is teaching him side breathing, crawl, and breaststroke.  It’s been great for us–although we do sometimes have the shampoo wars at our house.

  36. Lydia Aug 18 at 4:08 pm Reply Reply

    I love that someone gave the advice to buzz cut your daughter’s hair. God bless the internet.

  37. Heather Aug 18 at 5:24 pm Reply Reply

    Three things that kinda work with my son: 1) Getting in the bathtub with him, so he can lean his head against my legs while I wash his hair. 2) No bath toys in the tub until the hairwashing is done. 3) Showers – I don’t actually wash his hair in the shower, but he takes one with me or his dad a couple times a week and I figure that rinses his hair pretty well so I can delay washing it.

  38. Heather Aug 18 at 5:27 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, and the buzz cut comment… I’m pretty sure that my son, who freaks out mildly about getting his hair washed, would be plastered to the ceiling if I came anywhere near him with buzzing electric clippers!

  39. Ailidh Aug 18 at 9:33 pm Reply Reply

    We do all of the above with my nearly three year old: washcloth that he holds, using a cup or even just our hands, super minimal washing (like if he lies down in the sandbox or some such – and then I tell him at the park). He also won’t lean back, but sometimes consents to tilt his head back.
    My guy hates the very idea of the shower, but would your girl be willing to try it? Then maybe weekly (or as needed) she could shower with you, and rinse herself. Having control like that might win her over…?

  40. Olivia Aug 19 at 8:11 am Reply Reply

    Reporting back to thank all of you for the suggestions. When I got home last night my husband was bathing our daughter and when I heard her start protesting about having her hair washed I rushed in and handed her a washcloth for her face. She immediately calmed down and the rest of the bath was pleasant. I could kick myself to not thinking of that earlier!

    **************
    Isabel says: so happy to hear; thanks for the update. I do the same with my son. except he doesn’t use a wash cloth, he uses a hand towel which is bigger and more absorbent.

  41. Sarah Lynn Aug 19 at 9:59 am Reply Reply

    With one of my three screamers I had some luck having her lie down in the empty tub, head toward the drain, and then wetting the hair and rinsing with water in cups I had already filled. Bath to follow as a reward. Just terrifying to have the faucet on while she was lying there, of course. No luck in getting her sister to lie down, and I just washed their brother’s hair with a wash cloth and minimal soap. Other daughter and both granddaughters would cooperate if they held a dry washcloth tightly over their eyes. If I had any more little people to shampoo, I would try swim goggles.

  42. Momma Fergie Aug 23 at 5:11 pm Reply Reply

    Hmmm… perhaps try one of those spray shampoos. You spray it in dry hair and then just brush it out. They work pretty well and you won’t have to battle the soapy water.

  43. laura Aug 29 at 2:54 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you everyone for the advice!! We did a sort of kitchen sink approach and tried everything at once (wash cloth, leaning forward, only washing when it was obviously dirty and mommy getting in the tub with her). I think the getting in the tub with her was some sort of miracle. It is like how she doesn’t want veggies until she sees them on my plate going into my mouth. I took a cup and dumped it on my head and GOD HELP ME, SHE DID TOO! and she washed my hair, let me wash hers, etc. it was amazing. It took a few times to go from nervously being ok to full on, this is actually kind of cool. God bless you internet. buzz cut suggestions and all! that one sort of made my day.

  44. Sarah Docherty Jan 13 at 4:54 am Reply Reply

    I had some success with making up the hair wash hokey pokey song for my daughter. Something along the lines of we put the shampoo in, we rub it around, we put the shampoo and rub it all around. We do the hair wash hokey pokey and we turn around… I then made up verses for rinsing and conditioning etc. it at least distracted her for awhile. Getting her to hold a washer over her face and also help washing my hair were good.

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