Children are stinky little creatures! Most parents find that when a child is born, bath time is one of the more pleasurable times of the day. Most infants and babies love spending time in the water and don’t fuss much. In fact, for parents of colicky babies or for parents that have a fussy baby – a nice warm bath can be just the thing to turn the mood around.
Unfortunately, as kids get older – they’re adherence to the rules of hygiene tend to change. Sure, they may love spending time in the bathtub, sitting in their own pee until the water turns cold, playing with toys and blowing bubbles – but they aren’t really doing much to cleanse themselves.
The question today is how often should children bathe? Do kids need to take a shower every day? The best way to answer this question is to break it down the bathing requirement by age group.
For Infants and Babies
Your infant and baby probably doesn’t need to be bathed very much. In fact, because their skin is so new too much bathing – especially with soaps and shampoos can dry out their skin and hair and cause patches on their skin that mimic eczema. Under the age of 2, and especially while your child is wearing a diaper – you can bathe your child just several times a week because chances are good that you sponge bathe them several times a day. It is very important to make sure that you lift up the folds of their skin, and get in the cracks and crevices with a washcloth so that they don’t develop any sort of yeast build up. Yeast infection under the neck, and in the folds of a young babies skin are fairly common problems.
Most toddlers love their bath time. Bath time is a time to play in the warm water, and often relaxes a toddler who is overly excited and is a great way to get them ready for bath time. Toddlers often attend pre-school and throughout the course of a day, can get into many messes. Ultimately, this means by the end of a typical day – a toddler can turn into one big germ. But germs aren’t always a bad thing, as they help to build up the immune system. This certainly doesn’t mean that your toddler shouldn’t bathe often – but most often, a daily bath is not necessarily and can lead to drying out the skin too much. The best rule of thumb to follow when it comes to your toddlers is to bathe them when YOU think they need it. Toddlers need help bathing, especially in ensuring that their genital areas are cleaned properly which can reduce infection. One important thing to note, especially if you have a little girl is that allowing her to sit in bath water for an extended period of time can lead to urinary infections. Most physicians advise against using bubbles in the bath water, and encourage parents to rinse their children off thoroughly after taking a bath in the tub.
Pre-School – Elementary Children
Most preschool and elementary aged children don’t smell bad when they sweat. Smelly sweat usually begins with the onset of hormones. Hand washing is in fact, the most important aspect of hygiene for this age children. And since head lice is so prevalent in school, it is important to note that head lice prefer immaculately clean hair. Washing your child’s hair every day can actually make them a better host for head lice. Additionally washing hair every day makes your child’s hair more prone to get greasy more quickly. At this age, while your child may still prefer a bath – kids should be learning how to take showers with the assistance of parents. This way they can actually use soap and water to clean the important areas of the bodies. And since most kids this age begin wiping themselves, cleaning their buttocks and genitals is essential to avoiding infection. Normally, unless your child seems to sweat a lot of smell badly – bathing 2-3 times per week should be sufficient.
Pre-Teens and Teens
By the time your child hits the teen and pre teen age, they will likely not mind bathing on a daily basis. Hormones cause children of this age to smell badly, and hopefully your child has learned the basics of hygiene by this point. Of course, the more active your preteen or teen is, the more they may need to bathe. Remember that the sweaty smell is actually bacteria that needs to be washed off the body. This is the age that kids should be encouraged to use deodorant as well – even if they do not have any underarm hair. If you begin to smell an onion smell when your child sweats you can rest assured that they are entering the hormonal phase of their life. How often your child bathes at this point will be based upon how they smell, how much activity they are involved in, and what time of year it is. Obviously, in the heat of summer showers and baths should become more prevalent. Many parents of teens find out quickly that their teen wants to shower more than once a day because of fear that they stink. And girls who are menstruating should try to bathe daily during their monthly cycles.
As a parent – teaching your child how to bathe, and bathe properly is an important task. Let’s face it, even older kids will often play in the bath water or stand under the shower but not really wash their hair, or take the time to clean between their toes. And this can be problematic and embarrassing as they get older.
Since every child comes into this world with a different set of DNA, how much they bathe will mostly depend on the child. If your child smells bad, has been playing in the dirt, or looks like they need a bath – then make sure they get one. If they can go a day or two, or even three without becoming smelly – then make sure that they touch on the important parts of their body like the hands, feet, face, and genital area – and save the full fledged showers for the next day. And again, remember that sitting in dirty bath water can actually counteract the benefits of bathing – so try to make sure your child learns to rinse off in the shower AFTER baths at a young age.