When my oldest child was an infant, I was so concerned about every little thing. Like most first time parents, I wanted to do it all correctly. Make no mistakes. Follow the book. Well, I quickly got over that feeling once my second child came along. Parents with more than one child will understand that you soon move from doing it all correctly to making sure everyone stays alive.
One of the areas that I didn’t find answers to in my parenting books was bathing. How often should you give your child a bath? Does that change as they get older? Do you need to scrub them with soap every time and shampoo and condition that fine little baby hair? My pediatrician gave me some great advice and I’ve used it with all three kids. He said – generally speaking – that newborns do not need a bath more than once a week, unless they have blowouts and you want to rinse them off in the tub. Their body’s don’t produce a lot of oil, so there’s no need for soap in the water. You can shampoo occasionally, or use a washcloth with some infant body wash on it every few weeks.
Once your infant becomes a solid food eating, messy hands in the hair baby, you can wash two to three times a week; but there still isn’t’ a need for soap in the water. The soap dries out their skin quickly, and since their skin is still thin and more delicate than older kids or adults, you want to take care not to wash it too often. Simple soap and water can actually do a lot of good.
You can keep up this “two to three times per week” routine until pre-puberty, when oil glands increase production and they become a bit more stinky. I hear many parents of elementary or pre-school aged kids bathing nightly and in my opinion and experience, that’s just not always necessary. Parents, you’re wearing yourselves (and the kids) out with all the bathing!
Exceptions to this rule of thumb…I always bathe after swimming, excessive sunscreening, extremely dirty playing outside, rolling around in the grass, crafts that involve painting or glue, or when they’ve been places with a lot of other kids in close contact. Take a trip to the museum? Don’t need a bath, but be sure to wash hands thoroughly. Vacation Bible School? Probably a good idea to kill some germs in the tub. Heard there is a nasty stomach bug going around school? You can’t bathe enough. 🙂
If your kids attend a daily day care and it gives you peace of mind to do a nightly bath, go right ahead. But maybe don’t always use soap or shampoo their hair to prevent over drying. Getting your kids to bed on time is nearly always more important than a bath, so give yourself a breather once in a while and gain some extra time snuggle time in their bed.
Wondering what soap to use? My personal favorite is Arbonne’s ABC Baby Hair and Body Wash. It’s super gentle on sensitive skin and can double as shampoo. Be extremely cautious choosing soap for your kids. Most products labeled “hypoallergenic” or “baby” are not formulated for use on children and contain loads of gross stuff. Be picky, do your research, and your children will reap the benefits for years to come.