fear of water

For about about a month now, or maybe longer, Alice has been afraid of the bath.

She loved the bath.

And then, she stiffened her shoulders when I lifted her over the edge of the tub. She curled up her legs when they were about to touch the water. She shook her head, ‘no.’ She screamed unless I stepped in with her.

It’s better now. She is mostly calm at bath time. Happy sometimes, I’d say. But still, she would rather not sit down.

It started shortly after she slipped while crawling in the tub one night. Her face got wet and she gulped some water, but I had her scooped back up in half a second. Wrapped in a towel and consoled on my shoulder in not much longer.

I figured that’s what had scared her.

But after a couple of weeks, it seemed impossible she could still remember and be frightened by such a small accident. And then again, no more impossible than another explanation I have since read, attributing sudden-onset bathphobia in toddlers to fear of being sucked down the drain.

(Are you afraid of being sucked down the drain?)

It is more challenging than I would have thought to abandon appeals to reason and reassurance —

“You’ll be OK.”

“I’m right here.”

“I have you.”

“It’s so fun! Let’s splash! Let’s read! Let’s sing! Let’s pop bubbles!”

— To accept her perspective and go with it. She’s clean and she’s happy. She bathes standing up. Enough.


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