How often should you bathe your kids?
How often should you bathe your kids? As most parents know, the answer to this question will vary depending on who you ask.
Like many parenting topics, everyone has an opinion. But it can be hard to find some solid facts on the matter.
We asked Tori Srour, Midwife and Dr Jill Gamberg, GP to shed some light on this (sometimes divisive) topic.
For many new parents, bathing babies can be a daunting experience. The good news is that Midwife Tori says frequency is an individual decision.
“Two to three times a week is generally what's recommended. Daily baths are just not a necessity because babies aren't very dirty generally. We clean the dirty parts every two to three hours anyway,” says Tori.
She adds that if bathing is a soothing technique for your baby, it's absolutely fine to do it every day.
Dr Jill adds, “For newborns and infants, bathing two to three times per week is fine. Of course, if there are occasions like giant poops or wees or vomits, then bathing more frequently might be necessary!”
Both of our experts agree you should avoid soap and opt for simply water when it comes to bathing babies. So, you can remove the baby wash from your baby hospital bag checklist.
For bigger kids
Toddlers, preschoolers and primary kids have a real knack for getting dirty. So, Dr Jill advises that it’s a good idea to increase their bathing frequency when visits to sandpits, pools, mud and beaches become a regular thing.
“When children get older, they tend to get dirtier more frequently and may need to bathe daily,” she says.
Teens and tweens
As you would expect, our experts advocate for daily bathing towards the later stages of primary school.
“Once they become preteens or adolescents, they may start to get sweatier or have body odour or develop acne, then daily bathing is appropriate,” says Dr Jill.
What happens if you don’t get it quite right?
Too much bathing may make your child’s skin irritated, dry or itchy. And the hotter the water or the longer the bath or shower – the more it might dry their skin.
It may also upset the balance of microorganisms on the skin. “Our immune systems need a certain amount of stimulation by normal microorganisms, dirt and other environmental exposures in order to create protective antibodies and ‘immune memory’,” explains Dr Jill.
Bathing too frequently is also not recommended for children with eczema. Parents with any concerns should talk to their GP.
There are some other factors to consider as well
Dr Jill reminds us that bathing habits will differ between cultures and countries. Access to clean water and sanitation can play a part in bathing habits around Australia and the world.
So, next time you’re arguing with your child about bath time frequency, you have all the proof you need to make it happen. Because arguments with children can always be won with (looks down at notes) logic.
Dr Jill Gamberg is a General Practitioner and one of the first Australian Lifestyle Medicine Physicians whose goal is to help prevent disease and maintain wellness with evidence-based practice, and to passionately improve health literacy.
Tori Srour is a Northern Rivers based midwife who is passionate about empowering and educating women so they can walk away from their birth physically safe and emotionally well.
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board September 2021.