June 22, 2006

Dread Or Dreds, What's It Gonna Be?

Why does the kid seriously freak out when I wash her hair? Still? It's been like this for a long time now.

From before she could even sit up, and I had to cradle her head and shoulders in the tub with my forearm, I can count on my one free hand the number of times she hasn't been a petrified, crying mess about it.

Part of it has to be that I am not usually on bath duty, my wife is, and that's gotta account for some of it. And no doubt, at the end of the day, if I'm frustrated by wails of protest, that frustration only compounds the kid's own anxiety.

But rinsing off with cups of water instead of leaning back doesn't help. Using the shower--which the kid's recently come to love, btw, go figure--is less worse, but still bad. the full back & shoulders & neck support wtih constant reassurance as I lean her back into the tub [just barely to her ears, because the ears can be a trigger point] doesn't work, either. The result is nearly always crying and fear of getting water on her face. [Never mind that when she swims, she couldn't really care less about a wet or submerged face.]

So. Is it me? I mean, obviously, it's me, but what should I do? Is there the shampoo rinsing equivalent of The Swaddle, a secret miracle technique that brings instant results? Or am I just doomed to be the cause of her future lifelong fear of dunking machines?

24 Comments

No help here. Ours is almost 3 and hair washing is one of the few things that really freaks her out. The novely of showering helped for about 2 weeks. We got her to lean her head back with a washcloth over/just above her eyes - worked great! Now we're back to baths (her choice) and back to square one.

Hoping for some words of wisdom...

Have you tried taking the bath with her?
Works for us.
Good luck

Have you tried having her hold a DRY washcloth tightly over her eyes/face. This is the only thing that worked for me as a kid. There's also a nifty rinseing pitcher thing you could try with one side that is rubbery and you press that part against the forehead. In think it's in the One Step Ahead catalog.

Your daughter is probably too old for this, but my son (who used to love to lie back into the water (supported by my arms) and relax but now, apparently, hates nothing more) has been persuaded to look up while I pour a cup of water over his head if I sing his favorite Laurie Berkner song "Moon, Moon, Moon." I sing "Look up, it's the moon, look up, it's the moon" and so on and he begrudgingly looks up. Maybe since your daughter is older and more sophisticated you could actually put something on the ceiling for her to look at?

Ditto on the towel over the eyes. My son is almost 4 and he still freaks out.

My son is 3 and he is a total freak about getting his hair washed. Of course, there is no problem in the pool, even getting cleaned up after with soap, shampoo etc..?

My feeling is "If he's 5 and still freakin then I'll worry," for now I'll just chuckle and douse him :-)

This is exactly the reason why, at 4 months old, i always make a point of pouring water over my daughter's head in the bath. even though she has no visible hair yet (at least on the top 2/3rds of her head), i still just dump it uncerimoniously over her. she blinks a few times, looks at me like i'm crazy, but goes about her business of flailing her little limbs and getting me soaking wet. I'm hoping she's still cool with it when she's 3...

Hey, Kate - I hate to say it, and I hope I am wrong, but that didn't work with us.

I don't think it is really the water on the face with our daughter (almost 2 yrs) so much as the shampoo. Unfortunately, she associates the water on the face with shampoo in the eyes, and freaks out. Now, she even freaks out sometimes when we pour water on the back of her head, knowing the front is coming.

Two things we've tried - the washcloth on the forehead. It does allow the water through a bit, but not the shampoo. This is still hit or miss.

The other thing we try is holding something interesting up over her and getting her to look at it. Still hit or miss with her, but works maybe 75% of the time.

Sometimes, she freaks out so much she wants to get right out of the bath. And this is a girl we usually have to take out of the bath, kicking and screaming because she wants to stay in.

Greg - hold her upside-down over the toilet and flush.

Swim goggles? The sheer novelty has helped us at times.

We had some of that, but bringing him into the shower with me solved it. (But I have to admit, he's almost two now. At one point is it going to be too weird? I mean, the other night he poked me in the crotch and said, "Kitty!" buying us both two years on the couch.)

What about a shampoo visor? One Step Ahead has them at http://www.onestepahead.com/jump.jsp?lGen=detail&itemID=128&itemType=PRODUCT&iProductID=128&change=117

If she doesn't mind swimming then fill the tub up nice and high and tell her to swim. Under she goes a quick rub on the top o' the noggin' and no tears. Worked like a charm for my boy

My two year old daughter hates the hair washing, too. Interestingly, she will dunk her head under water in the pool, so I have no idea what the problem is. She does like it more (hate it less?) if she is allowed to help with the sudsing up process, especially if the shampoo comes out foamy from a pump like the Kandoo line.

I'm not sure how reassuring it would be to tell you that at age 23 I'm still terrified of getting bathwater on my face? But I do manage to maintain a certain level of cleanliness, so that's all good.

Um, suggestions. I second the suggestions for a dry washcloth that can be held over the face. Also having a second cloth handy for her to wipe her eyes and ears when the ordeal is over.

Also, if she's willing to, you can teach her the 'mermaid.' Have her lay back in the water and swish her hair side to side to get it wet, then do the same thing to rinse out most of the shampoo. That reduces the number of times water has to be poured over the head and may give her a sense of control.

Dunno about you, but when I am tired at the end of the day my anxiety level goes up. If it's a possibility to bathe when you get home from work or earlier in the day, you have pretty good chance that agitation from bed time, burning eyes, water in your ears,etc. will drop off a notch.

If anybody is still reading this post, my trick is to let my 2 year old wash my hair first.

I lean over the tub and she pours water over my hair and then I sit up laughing and shaking my head like a dog. She loves it, and then she wants me to do the same to her. Works like a charm every time.

Of course I wear my hair short, so it is no big deal getting it wet. Your results may vary.

What about trying one of those shampoo visors? They have them at OneStepAhead, listed here :
http://www.onestepahead.com/product/86186/128/117.html
It might be worth a try.

Well, i keep Monster's head shaved, letting it grow out to no more than about 1/2". That way, we never have to worry about shampoo, just a quick once-over with a washcloth. Makes post-spaghetti cleanup at Grandpa's a breeze.

Of course, this doesn't work with a girl without several thousand dollars of couch time later on. I may also have to think up a new tactic for the new little miss.

Our 5-yr old daughter, who also always loved water, went through about a year of hating to have her hair washed when she as 2-3 yrs old. We went through a series of solutions, most of which have been listed here in other comments. Some didn't work, some did for a short time. One suggestion that worked the longest for us was to tell her to put her head back, stare at the imaginary moon, and howl like a coyote. We started this as a game outside of bathtime, then carried it into the bath during hairwashing. Not only did it keep her head tilted back, but she was allowed to howl as loud as she wanted to, which was so fun for her that she forgot to get upset about the water. And for those nights when nothing worked, a quick douse with resulting short-term crying was much better than half an hour of continuing to codle her, which invariably led to tears anyway. She swims like a fish now, likes to wash her own hair, and still loves us, so I guess we handled the trauma of hair washing OK.

Swim goggles worked for us, 3-5.

The soon-to-be-released "Flo" by Boon may be fun...we can't wait to try it. Hoping it will solve our hair rinsing issue as well.
http://www.booninc.com/flo.html

That Boon thing is pretty neat... now, if only we had a tub faucet that stuck out...

Our daughter is almost 17 months now. We've been dumping water over our her head since she was old enough to sit up in the tub, and she rarely complains unless she happened to be taking a deep sniff. And even then, it's just a little sputtering, eye rubbing and reproachful "how could you?" look. However, if we lean her back to wash her hair (which is soo long it sometimes requires a full immersion) the screaming and crying starts and doesn't let up until she's sat back upright. We suspect it's a remenant of that falling reflex all babies have, you know, the monkey one where they startle and flail their arms when rocked backwards suddenly. I can count on one hand the number of times when she hasn't cried during this process, and it's usually been while we're distracting her with song and comedy. It takes both of us, and if our energy level is low, she just gets the water dump instead.

We've discovered that giving our 2.5 yr old daughter a bath toy whose "hair" she can wash has worked a charm. We sit her in a shallow bath and get her to look right up while we pour a cup of water over her hair to rinse. Then she gets a drop of shampoo in her hand to do the duck/frog/whatever's hair while we do hers.
When water does inevitably drip onto her face we hand her a dry face washer or hand towel to dry her face off with. We're lucky though, our daughter is quite reasonable and I was able to point out to her that while getting water into her ears may feel funny it doesn't actually hurt. She accepted that and the panicky screams went way down.

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