How Often Should I Bathe My Child?

No, Your Kid Doesn’t Need A Bath Every Day

January 25, 2016 Updated August 6, 2016

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A daily bath for your kids might be overkill.

Few things will test a parent’s mettle like trying to wrangle a screaming, slippery toddler into a bath mid-tantrum. Why do some kids hate baths, anyway? Baths are delightful! Since becoming a parent I personally would rank baths and naps above diamonds and Champagne as life’s ultimate luxuries, but children seem to hate both those things. It makes no logical sense, but at least we can give ourselves a break every now and then, because it turns out kids don’t really need a bath every day, anyway.

We want our kids to be clean and have good hygiene, but according to Yahoo Parenting, experts say that it’s not really necessary to bathe a child every day. In fact, bathing too often can dry out a child’s sensitive skin and exacerbate skin conditions like eczema. It might seem counter intuitive, but refraining from the bath might be better for the skin after all.

Newborns in particular tend to have very sensitive skin, and they don’t tend to move around a lot, so they usually don’t get all that dirty. As long as an infant’s diaper is changed regularly and its bottom kept very clean, a full bath is often not necessary at all. As long as a baby does not appear actually dirty or smelly, a wet sponge or washcloth under the arms and in any skin folds will often do the trick.

Once kids start diving face-first into puddles and rubbing peas into their hair, more frequent baths obviously become more necessary. And a kid who works up a sweat playing could use a wash, as could a kid who is smelly. Nobody wants to send their kids off to school in a cloud of body odor like Pigpen from Peanuts, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to scrub a kid every day. A gentle wash every once in awhile is fine for most kids, and that’s good news for anybody who has better things to do with their time than fight with a small child about bathtime, which is all of us.

The American Academy of Dermatology says that unless they get dirty, kids between the ages of 6 and 11 generally only really need a bath about once or twice a week. That certainly does not sound like a lot, but if a kid isn’t getting dirty, they might not actually need more than that. And a little bit of dirt isn’t necessarily bad for a kid, either. A bit of dirt and germs can even be good for a kid’s developing immune system.

“Exposure to a little grime may protect kids,” said Dr. Michael Welch of the American Academy of Pediatrics to Parenting magazine. “Because their immune systems are still maturing, they seem to benefit from being around viruses, bacteria, and dirt.”

By the time kids are adolescents, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends daily baths or showers, but by that age one would hope one would no longer be having to fight with a kid over bathtime. In the meantime, it looks like we can all relax a little bit and leave the daily scrubbing to the teenagers.