My Toddler Only Likes Cold Baths, Should I Be Concerned?

Cold baths do not cause infections and rarely lead to hypothermia. Some kids simply like cold temperatures better. If your baby flat out refuses lukewarm or warm baths, observe him for any other signs of sensory processing issues. These include very weak or very strong reactions to things kids see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. Seek medical help if these signs are present to rule out any behavioral disorders.

Unless your child is running a high fever, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a cold bath. Some kids simply prefer a colder temperature, while others opt for a warm shower. And some kids just don’t mind the temperature at all!

Just to make it clear, cold baths do not cause infections or diseases. There’s a small chance that your child could get hypothermia, which is an overall decrease in body temperature, but this typically happens if you use ice baths or a really, really low temperature.

However, one thing to rule out when a child has difficulty adjusting to situations (such as the change in temperature, for this case) is the possibility of sensory processing issues.

What is sensory processing?

Sensory processing is a process through which a child connects what they see, hear, touch or smell to what they understand about the environment. This, in turn, translates into how they respond to these sensory inputs.

Two toddler girls are sitting on a picnic mat at the park, playing with their sensory toys.

This is an important tool for learning; this is necessary for a child to learn how to regulate his behavior and emotions.

What happens when there are problems in sensory processing?

Children who have issues with sensory processing may respond to sensations differently. They could be overly sensitive, such as a toddler crying in pain when walking in sand. Other kids could be under-sensitive, like when a child prefers touching people or objects a lot more than usual.

As of now, there isn’t a definite cause for problems in sensory processing, but researchers think that environmental and genetic factors play a role.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sensory processing issues may be related to developmental or behavioral disorders. The most commonly associated conditions include autism spectrum disorder, anxiety disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

However, not all children with sensory processing issues end up having a behavioral disorder as well.

What are other signs of sensory processing deficits?

Check if your child has a few of the following signs:

  • Easily irritated by bright lights or loud or rough sounds
  • Excessively loves or avoids being touched
  • Avoids too hot or too cold objects or rooms
  • Very irritated when wearing rough fabrics
  • Persistently avoids eating a certain type of food
  • Difficulty understanding the concept of personal space
  • Frequently head banging or spinning around
  • Always wanting to move around
  • Prefers unusual body postures, or easily trips over
  • Has very low or very high tolerance for pain
  • Has difficulty falling asleep, needing comfort or rocking

What’s the next step for my child?

If you see your child exhibiting several of these symptoms, it’s best to have them checked for other behavioral disorders.

Important healthcare providers in evaluating kids include a developmental pediatrician and an occupational therapist.

It’s up to healthcare professionals to determine whether a toddler will need therapy, which is done on a case-to-case basis. Kids with sensory processing deficits may be treated with sensory integration therapy, focusing on the sensory input that is lacking or excessive.

FAQs

What temperature should a bath be for a 2-year-old?

The optimum water temperature is 98.5-100.5°F (37-38°C). If you’re mixing hot and cold water from the tap, the maximum temperature from the tap should be 122°F (50°C) to avoid any scalding.

How long should kids stay in an ice bath?

Bath time should not go beyond 15 minutes. Taking long baths can gradually lead to dry skin.

Takeaway

Some kids simply prefer cold baths, but it’s best to watch out for other signs of sensory processing deficits in your child. These could indicate an underlying developmental or behavioral disorder that may need medical attention and treatment.

Sarah is a healthcare writer, motivated by her love of reading books while growing up. She took up human biology and further studies in medicine, in order to fulfill her passion for helping kids. While she isn't a biological mother yet, she has taken two young dogs, named Indy and Obi-Wan, under her wing. She would love to someday travel the world and meet kids from different cultural backgrounds.

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