Help! My 19 month old throws tantrums and freaks out when I try to wash his hair.

JoyJen - posted on 08/08/2012 ( 44 moms have responded )

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Hi! My 19 mo son HATES having his hair washed. He freaks out and twists his body when I try to lay him back. If I dump a cup over his head, he screams bloody murder. He's never really liked getting his hair washed, however I used to be able to lay him back and rinse/wash with him crying just a little. Now I feel he is out of control with this twisting and turning while screaming and I'm 26 weeks pregnant so this is getting to be a bit strenuous on my back and patience lol.

Side note: their father and I split so I do not have that extra help and would really appreciate some advice and perhaps even a cure to this madness lol.

Thanks!!!
Joy

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Dove - posted on 08/08/2012

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Don't wash his hair unless it REALLY needs it. Unless he gets a lot of food in it you can make due with just wiping his head with a wet washcloth most of the time.

Do you know WHY he hates it?

My son is 4.5 and I still can't have him lay back in the tub to do his hair. I do dump a cup on his head, but he tips his head back and closes his eyes and I do my absolute best to not get any water on his face. He's older now, so does cooperate but we went through the same issue... for probably a year and a half or more.

He HATED water on his face and would totally freak out. You just do the best you can to work with him and his fear or whatever the issue is for him and make due until he outgrows it.

Hang in there!!

Becky - posted on 08/11/2012

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Both of my kids HATE having their hair washed. Well, not so much washed, but rinsed. They hate the water running down their faces, and sit up straight when I try to lean them back to rinse. I finally gave my son (6) a dry washcloth to cover his forehead with when I rinse his hair, and that helped immensely. My daughter (18 mos) is to little to figure out the logistics of it, so I quickly dump the cup of water on top of her head then wipe her face with my hand and then dry her face with the dry washcloth. Then I rub the top of her head with the washcloth until her hair is just damp and doesn't drip down her face. So far so good!

Amanda - posted on 08/10/2012

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As someone who has been around water all my life I can give you some info on to why some kids don't like being on their back in the water. They feel like they are not in control of their bodies. I coached kids ages 5 to 15 so I got to see this at all ages. I had one girl who wouldn't float on her back but had no problem on her front. She would scream and leave the pool for the day. When on your back you can not see what is coming so he may think you are going to put his head under water. I found with these kids taking baby steps was best. My son also went through this and here is what I did. While in the bath I would let him lean on the back of the bath tub. Each bath he would sink down more and more until the back of his hair was in the water. Then each day he would go father. Once he realized that he controls where his head goes in the water he was fine with it, now he puts in ears in too. As for dumping water on his head many kids don't like the feeling of water running down their face. I know it sounds weird but my son said it feels like fingers on his face. I let him have a shower take some cars in and give them a car wash. The water would splash in face and it didn't bother him. In a shower your child can control where the water hits them. Worth a try. GOOD LUCK.

Sarah - posted on 08/09/2012

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Joy,
My son started having issues with having his hair washed around 22 mo.
He is almost 6 and it still is not a 'fun' task.
He was diagnosed with Autism @4.
A side note (because I know nothing about your son), but there is an actual
sensory issue that kids can have, with or without Autism/Aspergers.
I had asked his Pediatrician even before the diagnosis and he told me
that it can actually hurt some kids/people to have certain areas touched.
Still is strange to me how getting your hair washed can hurt.

I'm sure this doesn't give you any information to 'help', but sometimes
I need some perspective, a reminder, that maybe there is an actual reason
behind the 'madness'.
If it is in some way hurting him; his ears, the touch, water in the face, etc...
it can change how you view the situation a little. Right?
For me it does. Instead of looking at the tantrum, I am more
filled with grace and compassion.

Good Luck.
Oh, we ended up doing a year of private swim lessons @the Y (they are really inexpensive) when it got really bad. They were an amazing help. While he still doesn't enjoy washing his hair, or even drying it for that matter, the screaming fits are few and far between. I can tell he is still uncomfortable, but he's quiet :)

Sarah

Nickie - posted on 08/09/2012

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My neice used to hate getting her hair wet so one night I babysat her I brought my swim suit an got in the tub with her and made her poor water on my head everytime she did it I would laugh after 10 mins of doing that I poored some on her and before she could cry I started laughing an poored it on myself she laughed an I did that a few more times by the time bath time was over she didn't want to get out she started proofing water on herself lol she was 17 months and now she's 2 and loves her baths my daughter is 7 months and do far loves baths but if she starts hating water I'm gonna do the same thing I did with my niece :)

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Hope - posted on 09/18/2012

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I completely know where you are coming from. My 3 year old HATES water on his head period. Since you say he's over a year now, I would suggest taking a shower with him. That is the only way I can get my son to wash his hair. He gets to have the feeling of being a grown-up. I would understand why he hates having a cup of water just dumped on his head with no warning, it can be very upsetting and he probably thinks it's punishment. The shower solution helps him get used to having water running on him constantly so he's used to the feeling and won't freak out so much washing his hair. I hope this helps, and trust me it will get better as time goes by!

Leah Ann - posted on 09/17/2012

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My son used to really hate it too. What I did was, when he was playing with bath toys put the shampoo on and for getting it wet and rinsing, I wet a washcloth and pushed it back down his head to his neck and it got the shampoo off.

Katie - posted on 09/15/2012

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The best thing you can do. If nothing else works. Is get the clippers out and give him a buzz cut. Then just take a wash cloth and run it over his head while you bathe him. I do this with my almost 3 year old son who still doesn't like his hair washed and did it with my 8 year old boy when he was the same age.

Ann - posted on 09/14/2012

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Visor hat with a wash cloth over his eyes so that he can play "hide from Mom"...or whatever game would work at his age. We had this problem when my son was 2...and "peek a boo" worked.



The other thing is that if he has thick hair and it take multiple rinsings he'd hate it, so keep the hair cut short and thinned out if need be.

Stephanie - posted on 09/13/2012

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My son took a tumble in the bathtub around this age and was always really nervous about the water afterwards. At 19m he might still be a little small for these, but see if you can find a pair of child swim goggles and have him wear them. Before I found those I had to use a washcloth to squeeze over his head to wash out the shampoo. Good luck!

Donna - posted on 09/12/2012

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My middle child, second son- would have a screaming fit when I would put the baby shampoo on his hair and start scrubbing. I don't know why this solution came to me....but I thought if he could see himself....maybe then he wouldn't be so scared. I had a good-size hand mirror and after I got his hair all lathered up - I would bring out the mirror so he could see himself. I would mold his hair into different styles with the shampoo. Sometimes I would later it up and give him a beard! This took a few times until he felt comfortable! You never know what will work with one child and not with another. You have received many good suggestions. I'm sure that one of them will work for you or he will grow out of it! God's blessings.

Barbara - posted on 09/12/2012

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It's tough my 3 yr old still Hates in unfortunately it is a phase for now. As mean as it sounds I wash then do the water then dry his face and eyes until its done. U will get quick with it. I he twists and turn don't strain ur back just follow him and in a low calm voice just explain what ur doin and tell him when it's out u will b all done. And just have the towel to wash his face. It will get better I promise.

Sandy - posted on 09/10/2012

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My son did that and it turned out he had a sensory problem. He couldn't stand the way water felt and I had accsess to a infant toddler OT that little by little she helped him to adjust to at least taking a bath without the fight he is only 15 months but had the problem since birth.

Jodye - posted on 09/10/2012

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I know this might sound really stupid but I saw these things on the TV yesterday called Bathtastic! They are shampoo bands that you put around their head so the water and shampoo don't get into their eyes. I don't know if they work but I was going to try with my daughter b/c she HATES it too and I cannot get her to lie back. She does not scream or anything... just twists and wiggles.

Amanda - posted on 09/08/2012

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I do my kids hair every other bath. My girls BOTH scream bloody murder when I wash their hair. I think the younger one does it because older sister does:P

Rita - posted on 09/08/2012

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Little ones' usually go through a stage of what they want done and what you want done, lol

During his bath try and get him to wash his hair. Just playing with him say to him "how about you pour water on your head, then mommie will dry it" or let him dry it. Try this a few times with just the water, then again do the same but after he pours the water (if he will) say now "your such a good boy, put this in your hair". Make sure its a "no tear shampoo". If this does't work then just leave it. He will eventually change. However at times' they like to do things themselves at this stage and this just may be one thing he will do. Another is you washing your hair with him. If he sees' you do it, it may just get him to. Whatever you do dont' get impatient with him, even if its messy or he will not do it at all. Good luck Mom

Margaret - posted on 09/02/2012

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If you can, maybe ask a neighbor, sister, close friend, to help you out at bedtime. Especially being 26 weeks along, that's a LOT to deal with! Lower back pain, bending over, ugh! I feel ya, sista!



Have you tried transitioning him? Something like, "when the clock timer goes ding, it's time to go upstairs and get ready for bath"? If not, see how that goes for a few days, maybe a week...also, there's a potty training chart w/ Elmo on it, and instead of using it for potty training, see if you can use it for behaving well for Mommy at bathtime? At this stage, maybe he's feeling like he's not getting enough attention, or he just hates the change from day-to-night routine with you, who knows. Maybe he's expressing his hurt, anger, frustration about your split w/ his Dad. Kids have NO clue how to manifest their feelings with their behavior, so I can REMOTELY get that this is equally hard for BOTH you and your son.



Bottom line, if you can't get help NOW, then you might have to change how you react to how he behaves when getting his hair washed. Just try to relax your body a little bit, pretend that you DON'T hear him screaming, and maybe that will get things started. However, it might be better for you both to get help so that the transition for the new baby's arrival can possibly go more smoothly.



Take a deep breath - I know that you're an awesome Mommy and doing the best that you can. Be proud of that. Your son knows where and how his bread is buttered - he knows what's up. By reaching out to your local community, you'll tap into resources that you NEVER even knew about! Try a local chapter of MOMS Club International, a Moms' group through a local church that you might like, contact your nurse practitioner in your Dr's office....it might take a few tries, but be confident that you'll find a network of other Moms in your area who can help you.



Hang tough, Mama - I realize that it's stressful, but if ANYONE can do this, it's YOU :) Take care, God bless, and let us know what happens!

Kaitlin - posted on 09/01/2012

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I had the same problem with my 1 year old..I ended up trying to make a game out of it..and it worked for us! Now no more fighting, crying or tantrums! Good luck!

Shannon - posted on 09/01/2012

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my daughter didn't like her hair being washed and then in the end i made it into a game and stuck monkey and other animal stickers on the ceiling so i tell her to look at the monkeys and animals and she lets me wash her hair because she is distracted by something else.



Hope it helps a bit :)

Shaunna - posted on 08/28/2012

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you can buy shower caps my daughter hates having her hair washed she loves having a bath but soon has you try to wash her hair she kicks and screams and paddys out . She used to get in the bath with me and I used let her try wash my hair and she let me wash hers was like a little game shower caps for kids R good lets U wash there hair but stop water going in there eyes hope this help :)

Bethany - posted on 08/28/2012

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Just don't wash it, unless it physically had something in it, and even then, just wipe a damp face cloth over it , working the sticky bits out if needed. Doesn't even need to be in the bath, any time, when he's having a snack in his highchair, when ever. Kids don't need their hair washed much, unless it has stuff in it and then just the stuff needs working out.



If you need to have him smell 'nice', put some baby powder on your hands and wipe them over his head.

Alyn - posted on 08/27/2012

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I would look into sensory issues. My son has Sensory Processing Disorder. The Out of Synch Child book saved me. I had no idea what was going on with my son until that book. Then I was able to find the right doctor for help. An earlier post mentioned sensory as well. I don't know your child, but it is worth looking into.

JoyJen - posted on 08/27/2012

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Thanks ladies! I have a lot to try. I am also going to look into the sensory thing bc I really feel like he doesn't like the sensation of a wet head bc he freaks out when water drips onto his head (rain, etc). I do like the idea of getting in the tub with him and dumping water on my head as I laugh so he sees it's ok. I thought if he had a bath with his cousins, he would see that they are fine during and after hair washing so he'd be fine too, but that didn't work... Even though he is not autistic, I do feel like he might have a sensory issue. As a newborn and until he was 4 months old, he had cradle cap so I guess that could have made his head super sensitive... Lately he's really been enjoying bath-time and seems to be having tons of fun until he thinks he's getting his hair washed. I am going to look into the sensory issue, the bath-time visor, and getting in the tub with him lol. Thanks again everyone!!!

Tristan - posted on 08/26/2012

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My daughter is going on 4, and we still have that issue. I clear off my kitchen counter, and wash her hair in the kitchen sink. Is it the right solution? Who knows, but it saves a lot of grief for her and I. Sometimes the easy route comes back to bite you in the behind, but sometimes the easy way gives you the strength to get through, and sometimes that's what you need. I figure that if she's 16, and I'm still having to wash her hair on the counter, I'll deal with it then.

Kim Sue - posted on 08/20/2012

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Joy you need to make him feel like he is safe if you dont show him it is safe he will think he might drown or get it in his eyes or in his mouth it is not that he hates it it is that he does not know if it is safe or not

Jennifer - posted on 08/20/2012

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My daughter did it too! Only with time did it get better, and she still holds a wash rag over her eyes when she washes her hair (she's 7 now).

Bobbie - posted on 08/16/2012

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History of fear and anxiety will make any change a little more difficult but still quick results will come. There are great products today to make this a much easier task.
http://www.onestepahead.com/catalog/prod...
** No longer lay him back. Let him sit up at all times. Do you have an old bumbo seat? They are great for keeping slippery toddlers sitting up safely. My grandson still loves his seat though he doesn't need it anymore. He will be three in November and still sits in it to play in bubbles.
** Have a clean wash cloth wet and on the ready for him in case thrashing makes anything run down his face. The faster you can respond to "rescue him" the more secure he will feel:) Hand him the cloth and tell him you are going to wet his hair as he is sitting there. Let him know what you are doing, no sneak attacks. Say something like. Look, mommy knows how to do this with a cup! want to be a big boy and sit up?
**Shampoo when you first put him in the tub .
**Use only tearless shampoo/ baby wash combo with gentle natural conditioner which will help clean but also moisturize his curls in one step.
http://www.aveeno.com/baby-care/organic-...
**No need to scrub EVER or even work with fingers into a lather, just massage gently. He is just as likely to be sensitive to the movement and pressure of having his head manipulated. Quick moving fingers on his scalp can feel like shaken baby to him. I swear I was shocked when I first saw my friend scrub her poor little girls head! Women of color sometimes have those handed down habits of scrubbing and scratching the scalp to work the oils. Ouch! I can tell you that as a hair stylist (many years ago) no scalp needs scrubbed on a baby. There is no product build ups like hair spray, styling gels and waxes. So go super easy
**Be excited that he is all done even if he throws a fit. Say something encouraging and hand him the rinse aid cup to play with. He will then see the cup as fun and harmless and each shampoo with be easier.

Good luck with your back :) The bumbo seat will really help and allow you to sit on the side of the tub to do his hair as you get further along.

Meagan - posted on 08/14/2012

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My 2 1\2 yr old daughter has always hated having her hair washed then I found out she didn't like water getting dumped on her head .. I started getting her to put a wash cloth over her face so the water don't get on it and now I don't have a problem with it anymore ...

Stacy - posted on 08/12/2012

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I would definently not change his routine becasue he didnt like it, he needs to been clean plus learn how to deal with it, cuz of course its something he'll have to do for the rest of his life. Have you ever tried letting him try himself? Or maybe during the day other than bath time to experiment with things going on his head to show him its ok? I know its hard and to have the patience when hes acting out, but id just try to take the time to understand why he doesnt like it, once you find that out you can correct the problem. Do you think it could be because he may feel your controlling this specific routine and forcing him to do something he doesnt want to do? Have you tried making a fun game out of it?

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I would start by getting him used to water on his head. Take a wash cloth that is soaked on plain water and wring it out over his head but toward the back. Some will go over his face but most wont. This will make him more comfortable with water in his face and on his head. This is one of those things that needs to be started early before a fear sets in. But it is also fairly easy to reverse.

In the mean time, use another wash cloth to wash his hair and only do it when it is dirty or greasy.

Sherry - posted on 08/12/2012

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Dont dump a cup over his head ...try using a facecloth (a baby one ) rinsing hair taht way ...does he use anoutdoor pool?If so try this in the pool outside first in afternoon then in bath tub later . If that doesnt work bath with baby anmd hold him look at him face to face then use cloth wet hair add shampoo or baby wash then slowly lay him down holding head and yse cloth rinsing it....hope it helps

Shalee - posted on 08/10/2012

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Have you tried using a handheld shower head to rinse off the soap? Maybe being laid back and a big amount of water on his head is bothersome. Plus he can play with it and wash the soap off his body. He may like to be more independent. I've always showered my boys, has been easier to deal with then in the bathtub, so that may help you as well. When they were young, we would hold them in the shower. As they got older, they would stand. Just worked better for us.

Katrina - posted on 08/10/2012

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I used a visor thing for my first child who hated water on her face and that helped - once she got used tothis thing on her head lol My second couldn't care less and my third child, hates it with a passion. Although he has Aspergers but, that's one of his sensory issues, and as Sarah pointed out, sensory issues can affect anyone. Try googling "sensory processing" and read about it. It may sound like your son, and if so, may have some ideas to help you to help your son through the process. My son is almost 4, and he screams the house down - like he's in agony - and I simply stick to 1 wash a week, unless as everyone else said, he gets stuff in his hair, and I get it done as fast as I can. I give him plenty of warning that it's going to happen and stay VERY calm. And reassure him, as I did when he was a baby "i know darling" etc.Not sure if he can hear me or if it makes a difference but while I'm doing that I'm concentrating on NOT letting it overwhelm me, so I don't lose my cool, cuz he can't help it. So I can't offer any help as such, but know that you're not alone. I hope you find an answer soon xxx

Carrie - posted on 08/10/2012

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I've never tried it with my little ones, but I know there is a visor for kids to wear during bath time. That way, you don't have to lay the child back in the water to rinse their hair. You can pour water carefully on the head and the water won't go into the eyes. Maybe your child will feel more secure wearing this visor knowing his eyes will be protected from shampoo and his ears protected from bath water. I looked them up online, they're kinda cool! Not costly. Looks like you can order these bath visors online or purchase at Walmart. http://www.perfectlysafe.com/bathandsunv...

Also, my son who is now 6 had (and still has) the same issue. He is sensitive about different things and freaks out when I wash his hair, But, when I lay him back in the water (the cup method is worse for him), I hold the back of his head so his ears aren't in much water. I have him look at me and I try to soothly talk to him about relaxing and being at peace. Sometimes I let him hold a dry washcloth over his eyes to protect them. All that seems to calm him and he doesn't freak out like he used to!

Be blessed....

Erin - posted on 08/09/2012

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My son, now 8, was the same way. It took him til the age of 6 to be ok in water. He hated having it in his eyes.

This will sound bad, but i had to just make up my mind that he would not be 18yrs old and screaming when he washed his hair. I found ( after trying EVERYTHING) that the faster we got it over with the better. If he chose not to cooperate, we did the dump. Just dump water over his head til it was rinsed. Thinking back on it now, I'm surprised the neighbors didn't complain, because the screaming was ridiculous! Anyway, he's great in water now, swims like a fish and loves it. It did take 6yrs though!

Kelley - posted on 08/09/2012

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I would try using a wash cloth to wash his hair & only wash it if he gets food or dirt in it until he gets comfortable with it.

JoyJen - posted on 08/09/2012

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Thanks ladies ~ I'm thinking he just doesn't like the feeling of water on the top of his head bc I have tried the plastic toy before and he swats it away, tries to grab it and throws a fit lol. It was easier for me to handle that behavior before the belly bump got in the way, however I will keep trying and hope for a break-through lol. He had his ears checked recently bc he was sick and his ears were fine. I will also try getting in him swimming classes too so he becomes more comfortable with water getting near his head. He doesn't quite comprehend covering his eyes. I wish I could go back to the days when he let me lay him back with a subtle protest instead of these full body tantrums lol. Fortunately (and probably unfortunately lol) I'm the only one who bathes him and he hasn't had any traumatic tub/water experiences (except for the time I dumped the water over his head to finally just get it done). Thanks again ladies!!

Beth - posted on 08/09/2012

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My son did this too, he absolutely hated it. I even tried using our detachable shower head, to more gently rinse. What finally worked, honestly, was just time. As he got older, he figured out that it needs to be done, and how to hold his head to avoid soap in his eyes. He was also in swimming lessons, so I started putting his goggles on him for washing his hair, and telling him to hold his breath like at swimming. That helped a lot. Good luck to you, I know it must be hard with a growing belly.

Stifler's - posted on 08/09/2012

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have you had his ears checked? it might hurt when he gets water in them or something. i let my kids try to wash their own with the no more tears formula shampoo when they start carrying on. i only wash their hair really once a week anyway unless thye've put sauce in it or something. it's easier if you get in the shower with them too.

Monica - posted on 08/08/2012

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Why don't you try using a plastic toy watering can instead? It releases very low and gentle flow of water and doesn't give them a fright, I do that with my 20 month old and I don't even have to lie him back (he hates it too!).
Give it a try and see how it goes, sing twinkle twinkle little star as you do it to calm him down. good luck.

Toni - posted on 08/08/2012

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My son never had a problem with water until he was stolen from us from CPS. After we got him back from CPS I could not have a shower with him anymore and he would scream till he turned blue in the face every time I tried to wash his hair.
All I could think of was he must have had a bad experience with water while he wasnt with me.
It took a long time for me to get him out of it. At first I would only wipe his head down with a damp cloth, then after months of that I started using tiny bits of water at a time to wash his hair.
Now all I have to do is tell him to cover his face with his hands when I rinse off his hair. It doesnt really do anything, but it lets him think it does.
If this is not possible for you(which is understandable considering your expecting) try and get some of these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Soft-Baby-Kids-C...

JoyJen - posted on 08/08/2012

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Thanks Dove! I have no idea why he HATES it lol. He's never been a fan bc he has super curly hair and I could only comb it when it had conditioner in it. He no longer gets his hair combed in the tub bc it's shorter. He was doing better with washes for a while (no splashing around; just subtle crying), but all of the sudden he HATES it... he even starts to complain if he thinks he's about to get his hair washed. Lately I only wash it on an as needed basis, but since he uses his hair as his napkin, it's becoming more often. I will try the wet washcloth and see how that works.

Thanks again!!

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