Daily Baths? Nope, Our Kids Don't Need Them

by Joelle Wisler
Originally Published: 

Finally, something I’m doing right.

Before becoming a parent, I remember visiting one of our friends’ homes for the weekend. They already had two children, and my husband and I watched them with awe and fear as they wrangled their baby and toddler all day. I remember being completely amazed at the amount of clothing negotiations and snacks and meltdowns that needed to happen just to get out of the house to go to the park for 30 minutes.

It’s possible that when we left, we bought condoms in bulk and started sleeping in separate beds for the next five years.

I also specifically remember that, each night, our friends would load their kids into the tub for a nice bath before going to sleep. They brought out a basket of toys and warm towels, and the kids splashed and frolicked and generally seemed to love the ritual. They also managed to soak every rug in the bathroom, and I think everyone might have cried, including me.

I thought, Oh, that seems like such a sweet thing to do. But I also thought, Oh crap, I don’t know if I’ll have the energy to do that every day. I guess I was planning on being a lazy parent even before I was a parent, and dreams do come true because I was right. I am a lazy parent — but it turns out I can just call myself free-range and everything’s cool again. Whew.

By the time bedtime rolls around, I’m exhausted. My kids are some serious work. Free-spirited, bold little firecrackers. The last thing in the world I want to do after a long day and dinner negotiations is draw a bath and argue with my daughter about her extensive mermaid collection and explain why she needs to wash her body parts and not create a tsunami in the bathroom. I pretty much only have energy left to argue with them about toothbrushing, the number of stories to be read, and why it’s not the ideal time to have a rave in our living room. I’m only human.

Well, it turns out that it’s laziness for the win on this one, folks.

According to Yahoo Parenting, experts say that kids actually don’t need baths every day. In fact, bathing too often (especially here in dry-as-bones Colorado) can exacerbate problems such as eczema and be tough on some kids’ sensitive skin. Research says that “children’s skin is more delicate and therefore more prone to irritant and allergic contact dermatitis.” Being clean is great, and yes, if your kid is extra stinky, muddy, yogurt-y, or barfy, a quick dip in the tub is probably a good idea. But generally, the American Academy of Dermatology says that kids from ages 6 to 11 only need to be hosed off once or twice a week. Hallelujah.

Babies need even less bathing. Wet wipes and wash cloths work well for babies’ diaper areas and all those creases and folds. This is all very good news for those of us who enjoy 10 minutes to ourselves in the evening in order to sit catatonic in front of some mindless programming.

Dirt is even good for kids and can help them build a healthy immune system, so step away with that antibacterial soap, which has been shown to do more harm than good. Just recently, antibacterial soaps with the ingredients triclosan and triclocarban can no longer be sold because using them over time can be harmful, since it’s possible that they allow bacteria to become more resistant. So, no thanks. Just regular soap and water has been found to be best.

So if you’re lazy, I mean free-range, like me, and you don’t give your kids a bath every day, you can put your guilt away. Don’t worry, there are plenty of other things that we can feel guilty about, like not being a very good cookie-baker, getting bent out of shape about nose-picking, and basically having the parenting patience of a goldfish.

Baths aren’t necessary every day, and I’m going to assume that goes for me too.

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