Bath time can be different in every house, with some kids loving their time splashing in the tub, and others dreading having to stop playing long enough to hop in the shower. It seems that when children are younger bath time is more fun because for many its an extenuation of playtime, but as kids get older it becomes more of a chore. And like most chores, it can take a lot of nagging to get your child to actually do it! While we know that babies definitely do not need to be bathed daily, parents are often stumped as to how often their kids need to hit the showers as they begin to grow up and mature. The answer to how often kids need to bathe differs depending on the age of your child and how active they are, but here are some guidelines you can follow to make sure your child is getting clean.
Age definitely plays a part in how often your child needs to bathe because once a child begins puberty they will require more frequent bathing. When children are infants they really only need a full bath once a week. Sure, there will be a few sponge baths here and there, especially if there is a particularly messy feeding or diaper situation, but daily baths can dry out their skin and sometimes cause irritation.
As your child gets older they will obviously need more frequent bathing, but not as often as many parents think. For children between the ages of 6 and 11 the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests that while daily bathing is fine, kids this age only really need to bathe once or twice a week. Obviously, there are exceptions, like if your child has been playing outside in the dirt or participating in sporting events that would necessitate a bath or shower, but those situations are normally obvious.
At this age, the AAD suggests making the determination as to how often a child needs to bathe as you go. If your child has been swimming in a lake or pool, they should bathe after since both pools and the beach contain a lot of germs. Kids may think a swim in the pool is the perfect substitute for a shower, but they're wrong. If your child has matured earlier than their peers and perhaps has started to perspire or develop body odor, they should also bathe more often, at least once a day. The Mayo Clinic also suggests bathing two or three times a week is fine at this age unless the child is particularly dirty or has begun to sweat or have body odor.
Exposing children to a little bit of dirt is often viewed as a good thing by many healthcare professionals as well. "Exposure to a little grime may protect kids," Dr. Michael Welch of the American Academy of Pediatrics told Parenting magazine. "Because their immune systems are still maturing, they seem to benefit from being around viruses, bacteria, and dirt." So the next time your child is arguing about bath time, remember that it may be good for them to be just a bit dirty, as long as they're not smelly! Sometimes all they need is a good wash at the sink with a facecloth and some antibacterial soap and they're good as new.
Once children hit the tween and teen years the rules change once again and bathing should become a daily occurrence. For those that participate in sports or play outside often where they sweat and get dirty, more than one shower a day may be required. Once puberty begins, which is typically earlier for girls than it is for boys, children should not only be bathing daily but they should also be learning how to properly wash their face. With the onset of puberty, many children will begin to develop blemishes and pimples or experience a build up of dirt and oil on their face. Teaching them how to properly wash their face at least twice a day can help contribute to good hygiene practices in addition to daily showers.
Teaching proper hand washing techniques is also crucial for children of all ages as well. Children at a young age need to know that they should always wash their hands before eating, and after using the bathroom as well as when they return from playing outside. Getting your child to bathe can often be a struggle for many parents, but hopefully, as your child gets older it gets easier. As children become teenagers and are more invested in and aware of how they look and smell, parents won't need to nag as much to get them to take a shower!