I'm Ready To Quit Co-Bathing, But My Kid Isn't

Ad failed to load

Growing up is all about transitions, and that often means giving something up. As parents, we guide our children through these changes, helping them through relinquishing the bottle, pacifier, or lovey. Fortunately, we don't have to do it on our own. There are resources on how to wean your child from the breast, ditch diapers for the potty, and transition to a big kid bed. I wish I could say the same for co-bathing. I'm ready to quit co-bathing, but my kid isn't, and I honestly don't know what to do.

My daughter has always had a tendency to fear the bath. When she was tiny, the only way I could get her to stop shrieking in the baby bath tub was to give her a terry cloth starfish to suck on. Eventually, I figured out that if I got in the big tub with her, and sat behind her with my legs around her, she was much happier. I was even able to breastfeed her thanks to all that lovely skin-to-skin contact. I could also bend my knees and let her recline against my thighs. I think seeing my face went a long way toward reassuring her that bath time was nothing to be scared of.

Ad failed to load

Baby girl went through a short phase where she enjoyed splashing around and playing with her bath toys on her own, but now at 2.5, she's having none of it. When I announce that it's bath time, she asks, "Mommy, you go bath?" and takes my towel down for me. Then, it's all, "Come on, mommy. Shirt off. Pants off." If I suggest that she might try to bathe alone, she goes into full-blown tantrum mode. It's OK for now, but she's getting older, and I'm getting more and more pregnant by the damn day. Maneuvering my growing belly in a tub with a toddler isn't going to get any easier.

I don't personally think there's any point at which it's inappropriate, but some people get worked up about being nude in front of their kids or bathing with an older child of the opposite sex.

There are certainly wonderful benefits to co-bathing. For starters, it's great bonding time. With a baby you get to cuddle, and with a toddler it's uninterrupted time to play and chat when you can't be distracted by the phone. Co-bathing is also a convenient time-saver (I know I wasn't getting a daily shower as a new mom). I can also get a lot more leverage to rinse my daughter's hair (which she hates) if I'm in the tub with her. Co-bathing can be really relaxing for both a child and a parent, especially if the parent hands the kid over to their partner so they can enjoy a soak when baby's tubby time is over.

Ad failed to load

If you're going to co-bathe, however, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices (not the least of which is the possibility of poop in the tub). It takes some preparation. According to What to Expect, you need to gather everything you need (towel, shampoo, etc.) before you get in the bath because you don't ever want to leave your little one unattended, not even to grab the rubber ducky. It's a good idea to have a non-slip mat, too. You'll want your partner on hand to handle that slippery baby getting in and out of the tub. You should know that you're not going to be enjoying hot tub temps, either. Dr. Sears recommends running the water to body temperature.

I don't think it's going to fly with my kid if one day I just up and stop bathing with her.
Ad failed to load

Parents quit co-bathing for all kinds of reasons. I don't personally think there's any point at which it's inappropriate, but some people get worked up about being nude in front of their kids or bathing with an older child of the opposite sex. Whatever. It's a personal decision. For other parents, it's a matter of practicality, like you can't fit in the tub with them anymore. Maybe you're ready to hand over the responsibility to an increasingly independent child, or maybe you're just tired of taking your damn clothes off every other evening.

So, whatever your reasoning, you're done with co-bathing. What do you do now? Gradual extinction? Cold turkey? Rip the Bandaid off, so to speak? There's not a ton of guidance out there. Parents suggests playing up that it's a "grown-up privilege" and starting to hand over responsibilities such as washing and rinsing their hair and body. Momtastic recommends starting to talk about personal boundaries and watching for cues from your child that they're ready. According to How to Adult, it's a good idea to establish a new routine, but one that still includes you (just at arm's length).

Ad failed to load
After all, my little co-bather won't be little forever.

I don't think it's going to fly with my kid if one day I just up and stop bathing with her. I'm willing to listen to a little crying, but I have to pick my battles. So that leaves me with baby steps, if you will. I've already shown her how to lie back to wet her hair (which she much prefers to me using a pitcher). I put soap in her hand and let her scrub her little body. Slowly, I'm starting to exit the bath a little before her, and as time goes on, I'll get out earlier and earlier. Hopefully, she'll respond to this before her brother makes his debut and the slow and steady approach is no longer an option.

Ad failed to load

In the meantime, I'll try and get over having water dumped on my head for the hundredth time and remember that this time is special. After all, my little co-bather won't be little forever.

Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.

Ad failed to load
Ad failed to load
Must Reads

7 Hilarious Differences Between Having A Baby In Your 20s Vs Your 30s

I was 24 when I had my daughter. And even though that pregnancy was neither expected nor pleasant, I was optimistic. Sure, I guess your 20s are "supposed" to be about finding yourself, finishing college, starting your career, and navigating less-than…
By Candace Ganger

Babies "R" Us Was The First Place I Went When I Found Out I Would Be A Mom

For years I struggled to have a baby, and the sight of toys and layettes made my heart hurt. For me, Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us were a complete no-go zone, a reminder of everything I was missing out on. My mom would walk the long way around Target…
By Becky Bracken

New Moms Have Two Options: Be "Sad & Fat" Or "Desperate & Thin"

As the line goes, the worst thing you could say about me, I've already thought about myself. In the early postpartum period with my son, it was: "I am overweight, lonely, and heartbroken." It was four days after I brought my son into the world, and I…
By Danielle Campoamor

6 Fascinating Facts About Spring Babies: You Could Have A Leader On Your Hands

Does the season in which you are born affect you or are all seasons pretty equal? It turns out that there are many ways in which the your child's birth season could give you an insight into things to come. Whether you are expecting a baby in the next…
By Shari Maurer

Kids Will Love These TV Shows & Movies Coming To Netflix In April

It's that time of the month again: as March draws to a close, Netflix gets ready for a little bit of spring cleaning. Though some TV shows and movies will have to find homes elsewhere, their departure makes room for all kinds of exciting new media. A…
By Megan Walsh

I'm A Stay-At-Home Mom &, Face It, These 11 Stereotypes Are Totally True

Hello, friends! It's me, your resident stay-at-home mom. You know, there's a lot that's said about me and my kind, and the vast majority of it is not even remotely true. For example, this whole "we're lazy, vapid, unambitious, anti-feminist, backstab…
By Jamie Kenney

The Pressure To Worry About The Gap Between Kids Is So Bad For Moms

"Two under two is absolutely crazy," a friend recently told me upon hearing the news that I was expecting a second child. "Why would you do this to yourself? Seriously, why?" However harsh her words, she was only echoing the same feelings I'd been ba…
By Marie Southard Ospina

To Be Honest, I Couldn't Survive Motherhood Without My Job

The decision to work outside the home once you've become a parent can be a complicated one. Some people don't really have a choice, and go back to work because they're either a single parent or can't sustain their family on one income. Some choose to…
By Priscilla Blossom

I Feel Guilty That My Kid’s Dad Is A Better Parent Than Me, & That’s BS

I was scared, and he was sure. I was clueless, and he was well-researched. I was making mistakes, and he was picking up the pieces. From the moment I found out I was pregnant until just last night, when I threw my hands up in the air and left the alw…
By Danielle Campoamor

These Millennial Parents Are Taking Gender-Neutral Parenting To An Entirely New Level

A woman on the subway looks at my bulbous shape and asks, “What are you having?” I take a deep breath and throw a glance to my 5-year-old. “I’m having a baby,” I say to the woman. “No, no” the woman says laughing as she pushes further. “Are you havin…
By Madison Young

My Daughter Is Obsessed With Being "Pretty" & I'm Way Past Terrified

Last week, when I picked up my daughter after school, she immediately wanted to know if I liked her hair. "Is it pretty?" she asked. Her hair was pulled up into two ponytails that were intertwined into thick, long braids. A shimmering pink and purple…
By Dina Leygerman

7 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 20s, But I Will

I was 24 when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy was a surprise, since I was on birth control (side note: antibiotics and birth control don't mix), but my partner and I decided to continue with the pregnancy and committed to m…
By Candace Ganger

7 Things I Wish My Partner Had Said To Me In The First Hour After Giving Birth

I don't know if it was the buzz of the surrounding machines, the non-existent cry of our son as the doctors tried to resuscitate him, or the fact that I'd already been through labor and delivery once before, but I knew something was missing after I h…
By Candace Ganger

Moms’ Groups Weren’t For Me, Sorry

I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Dep…
By Samantha Taylor

Millennial Women Are Getting Married Later Than Gen X, & The Reasons Why Are Pretty Badass

The battle of the generations seems to come up when it comes to every lifestyle or career choice people make. Women, especially, are an important demographic when it comes to analysts looking at the lifestyle choices we make or the expected milestone…
By Josie Rhodes Cook

I've Had 3 Miscarriages But *Please* Keep Telling Me About Your Pregnancy

I can feel the tension the moment my friend announces her pregnancy. I can hear the forced nonchalant attitude she's willing herself to exude as she fishes for the ultrasound. I know why I was the last to learn that she was expecting; why she keeps l…
By Danielle Campoamor

7 Early Signs You're Going To Need An Epidural, According To Experts

Even if you've constructed an elaborate birth plan, it's impossible to control every aspect of labor and delivery. Complications can occur, proactive measures might be necessary, and your mind is subject to change when those damn contractions really …
By Candace Ganger

I'm Pregnant & I Refuse To Read Any Parenting Books

I didn't read any parenting books when I was expecting my daughter, and I refuse to read any parenting books as I await my second child now. I'm the first to admit that I don't really know what I'm doing when it comes to raising my daughter. A good d…
By Marie Southard Ospina

11 Essential Products To Pack In Your Hospital Bag, According To OB-GYNs

The minute you go into labor (or think you're going into labor), chaos ensues. You and your partner are likely to get a little frantic, just like in the movies, so you most definitely want to have a hospital bag packed before the day comes. This prec…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

7 Photos You *Must* Take In The First 6 Months Of Motherhood

In my experience, becoming a mom is like becoming an amateur photographer. There's just something about the need to capture every single coo and sorta-smile that leaves you obsessed with all things photography. I know I couldn't stop taking selfies w…
By Candace Ganger