Ablutophobia – the fear of pooping in the tub

This phobia is also known as fear of bathing, washing and cleaning. This type of phobia is more common with children and women than males and especially with those people who are very emotional.

The phobia is associated mental trauma with a persistent, unwarranted and abnormal fear of bathing, washing or cleaning.

The original catalyst would be a real-life scare of some kind (like pooping in the bath with your sister), the condition can also be triggered by any event seen in Television, films or even witnessing someone else experience trauma.

Those suffering form ablutophobia experience – dizziness, breathlessness, excessive sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, becoming mad or losing control.

Further those suffering from this phobia fear something that has little or no actual danger.

The victim gets terrified and feels worried.


I thought, given time, Avery’s fear of the bath would get better.  It has not.  The bugs are starting to swarm and the smell is nearly unbearable. 

No.  She’s still getting bathed, but she DOES NOT APPROVE.  With masterful comedic timing, the second we say the word “bath”, she follows up with “poop.”  As the water is filling, she clings to me like a little spider monkey, clawing at my back if I loosen my grip.  When I speak to her softly about how fun the bath is and Look!  Eirinn wants you to play with you!, she cries “no, no, no.”

Last night, we tried the 256th suggestion and this time it was my own – Put the girls in their bathing suits and call it swimming!  Yay!  Avery loves swimming!


All day long, we hyped up the night’s bath swim and she was totally into it.  They were even going to go swimming with the fishies, which sounds a little Soprano’s-ish, but we meant it literally.  She loves fish.  So we put a whole bunch of fish toys into my big, corner, soaker tub, called it a swimming pool (nevermind the fact that swimming pools probably shouldn’t have fish), and put them in their bathing suits.  Avery even got to wear one of Eirinn’s old suits and anything belonging to Eirinn is so much cooler than her own.

Eirinn got in and pretended to swim (she was in on the scam).  Avery clung to me, crying ‘no, no, no’. 

After a few minutes of getting no where, I caved.  I asked her if she wanted me to go in with her.  Of course she did because kids are evil and love to laugh at their mothers’ jelly rolls.  I may look skinny standing up, but get me in a two-piece bathing suit sitting down in a bath tub full of luke warm water and I can count three or four waves of blub that are normally hidden by loose-fitting clothes and tucked into my granny panties.

Anywhoodle, we were having a marvelous time – the girls playing fishing and Baby Shark and swimming around, me seeing if my stomach looked flatter with my belly button in our out of my bottoms (answer: neither) and keeping Baby Shark from biting my boobs. 

We stayed in for such a long time, I had to re-heat the water twice and all 60 of our digits were pruney little raisins.  After I had tricked them into having their hair washed and their bodies sort-of cleaned (as best as I could with bathing suits in the way), I announced that it was time for me to get out and dried off.  They could stay in for a few more minutes, but Avery seemed fine and I needed to get dressed before I could get them out.

Bad move.  Avery lost it.  Screaming, crying, reaching for me, standing up.  We were back to square one.  She wasn’t ok again until all three of us were dressed and the water was completely drained from the tub.

I don’t know what I’ll try next.  A few people have suggested having a shower with her, bathing her alone, hosing her off in the yard (thanks Dad!).  Unfortunately it is one of those things that I can’t just let go.  She needs to be cleaned, somehow, and it doesn’t seem to be going away on it’s own.  At least not anytime soon.

So, hit me.  Enlighten me with your wisdom.  What should I try?

Recovering, Post Traumatic Stress-style, with a bucket of apples.


14 thoughts on “Ablutophobia – the fear of pooping in the tub

  1. Do you have a hand shower? My oldest went through a phase of being afraid of the drain, so we took showers instead. I put the hand shower down as low as it would go and then she stood under it just like I stand under the big shower. It’s a little more labor intensive for me, but it worked for us. When she got over the fear, she went back to baths, but now she has the shower option.

  2. The poor girl, to be terrified of something I’m sure she loved doing. And of course the stress to you. My sister went through the same thing and had to bath her girl standing up in the tub with water running but not plugged and she outgrew the fear in a couple weeks. Hope it gets better soon.

  3. Find a particular food she doesn’t like, let’s just say mayonnaise or something, and then right before bath time smear a glob of it across her cheeks and neck. She’ll want so badly to get it off that the bath doesn’t seem so bad by comparison. Oh, and bathe her during the day so you can give her a cookie or something yummy afterward.

  4. The first comment reminded me: On weekends, I’ll often shower with the girls. I just put the plug in and stand in the stream of water, while the tub slowly fills up with both girls at the back. They play toys, with each other, and I kneel down and clean them.

    This might be a way to transition Avery back into baths without being in the bath. AH could do it, too.

    • I’m hesitant to try showering with her because Eirinn has never been a fan. She gets used to it once she’s in there, but she certainly doesn’t enjoy it. But, it might be worth a try.

  5. I have the same problem with my youngest daughter. She will be 3 in April. I have no idea what to do either. She is so terrified, it makes me cry everytime i have to give her a bath. We have been wahing her hair in our kitchen sink with the sprayer and just giving her a ” birdie bath”. But she is still very scared about the hair washing. If i happen to have a break through i will let you know, and can you please do the same for me.

  6. How about doing it like Asians do? Get a bucket full of water and a dip and pour the water to her body one dip at a time. Or the shower option is really good I think. You should try it.

    But if you really need to have her in the bathtub, how about distracting her while you are leading her to the tub. Like talking to her or have her fav things in her hand. I’m not sure it is easy to do, though.

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