Baby’s first bath is a sweet and fun experience for you and for your baby — and your baby ends up smelling wonderful. But from that first bath until teenage years, how often should your child bathe? While baths might be fun at first, squeezing a nightly bath into your bedtime routine might be hard to do. How often you bathe your child depends a lot on their age and level of activity.
The following guidelines can help you know how frequently to bath your kids. You may need to adjust for your particular circumstances. Only you will know how often your kids need to wash away dirt and grime.
Don’t bathe the baby daily
It might be unavoidable. After all, babies get messy. Spit up and diaper blowouts make a quick bath a necessity sometimes. But when you can help it, it’s best to avoid daily baths for babies under one year old. Instead aim for one full bath a week.
Daily baths can dry out your infant’s skin. As your child grows, their skin will be able to handle more frequent bathing. Instead of washing your baby or toddler first thing with soap, start the bath without soap; allowing your baby or toddler to play for a few minutes before washing them up. Less time sitting in soap means less skin irritation. Use plenty of lotion when bath time is done.
Bathing kids age 6-11
You know babies need less frequent bathing, but your older kids get dirty! Daily baths for older kids are fine. Their skin can handle the frequent washing. However, they may not need to spend much time in the tub. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends bathing children age 6-11 once or twice a week or when:
- They get dirty from playing outside
- They finish swimming in a pool, lake, or ocean
- They get sweaty or are dealing with body odor
- Your doctor or dermatologist gives you recommendations for certain skin conditions
Bathing after puberty
While younger kids might get dirtier, your pre-teens or teenagers are dealing with other issues. Puberty makes it necessary for your child to bathe daily. Your pre-teen and teenagers should:
- Shower or bathe every day
- Wash their face twice a day (helps to avoid acne)
- Shower or bathe after sweating heavily, playing sports, or swimming
It may not be difficult to get your teenagers to bathe daily, especially if you explain its benefits. If it difficult, keep encouraging. It’ll help keep their skin healthy and body odors to a minimum.
While it’s not always necessary for your child to take a daily bath, frequent handwashing is critical. Teach your child to wash their hands before meals, after using the restroom, after blowing their nose, or after playing with pets. Healthy handwashing should include the following steps.
- Use warm water to wet your hands.
- Apply soap and rub your hands together to lather. Remember to get in between your fingers.
- Keep lathering and rubbing your hands for about 20 seconds.
- Rinse with warm running water.
- Dry your hands on a clean towel.
Even when your child isn’t bathing daily, they can still maintain healthy handwashing habits. It may take some time for your child to remember to wash their hands, so keep reminding!
Bathing safety tips
It’s easy to forget that even older children can get hurt — or drown — during a bath. Follow these safety tips to protect your child.
- Always be present while bathing children younger than seven years old. Encourage older children to keep the door open while bathing alone.
- Turn down your water heater. Avoid burns by keeping your water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use fragrance-free soaps and lotions to avoid drying out your child’s skin.
- Keep baths brief. Your child doesn’t need an hour-long bath. Instead, shoot for about 10 minutes.
It doesn’t matter if your child is 2 months or 12 years, regular bathing is an important part of their hygiene habits. Knowing how often your child needs to bath will help keep their skin healthy and happy.