Ella has always loved bath time, although washing her hair has always been a bit shaky. She doesn't like getting tipped backward in the water but also doesn't like water being poured on her head, so we've just been pretty fast with the hair washing and she loves the rest of bath time. She would happily head up the stairs for bath time, get all excited, play and play while she was in there, and then not want to get out.
But recently she started crying when I'd wash her hair and it got worse quickly over a span of several days so that by the beginning of last week, she was crying from the minute she got into the tub until she got out. We started washing her hair every other day to make it less horrible for her, but she still was really upset the entire time. Then, it got even worse and one night last week when it was time to go up for bath time she said "no, night-night" because she wanted to just go to bed instead of having to take a bath :(. Her sweet little face got so upset and she started crying before I even got her in the bath...it was really upsetting and we just felt so horrible for her because she was clearly really scared. I'm the usual bath-giver but it was so stressful last week that Steve and I traded off nights so that she wouldn't be traumatized by me :(. She has tons of toys in the bath, I've brought in her favorite dolls and animals to sit on the sink so she can see them, I've tried singing, but nothing worked. She was miserable in the tub and wanted nothing to do with it.
I was at a loss for what to do but knew we had to come up with something to make bath time back to the happy fun time it was before. This past Saturday I was at Babies R Us with my friend to get some baby supplies for her, and when we were at the cash register on the impulse buy display there was a package of "bath tub crayons" for $1.99...I figured Ella likes crayons, it might be a fun distraction for her, and for two dollars, definitely worth a try even if she doesn't go for it.
So that afternoon when she woke up from her nap, I told her I got her a really fun surprise for the bath tub and she kept shaking her head and saying no, although she did seem to be getting a little interested since I kept hyping up her bath surprise. Once it was bath time I showed her the new bath crayons and that she could take them in the tub with her and draw on the tub and wall. She seemed suspicious but got in the bath tub, sans tears, which was the first time in several days. Once she figured out that the crayons were legit and she really could color with them, she started to really get into it and reasonably enjoyed the bath, with the exception of hair washing.
I also started filling less water in the tub thinking that she probably feels more secure when her head can rest on the tub bottom instead of kind of floating when I lean her back to wash her hair. I think that's made a good difference too. With the crayons, she draws on the wall of the tub, then says "what's that?" and laughs while I come up with guesses as to what is the amazing artwork that she has created. She also enjoys dumping a bucket of water on the drawings to help rinse them.
Today is Day 4 into the crayon experiment, and I am happy to report that tonight's bath time was 100% tear free - and - not only tear free, but, she actually told me she was READY to wash her hair and smiled while I was doing it - whoo-hoo!!! I called Steve in to watch and he couldn't believe it either. She was so proud of herself after and I was so proud of her, she did so great.
Moral of the story? Thank goodness for the bath tub crayons, quite possibly the best two-dollar purchase I've made!