How often do your kids need baths? Photo by Corbis Images.
Almost every parent on the planet has the same dirty secret: Bath time doesn’t necessarily happen every day. And the good news is, skipping the bath every now and then in favor of a tantrum-free evening is totally okay.
Here are some guidelines: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies younger than 1 have a full bath three times a week or less (any more than that can dry out a infant’s skin), and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) states that kids ages 6 to 11 only need a bath once or twice a week, unless they’re dirty, sweaty, or have a skin condition that requires more bathing, as per their doctor. Once kids hit puberty, a bath or shower a day is key.
But in the long run, a daily bath for a kid of any age isn’t dangerous and in most cases won’t cause skin issues for your child, Katya Harfmann, MD, a dermatologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, tells Yahoo Parenting. Here are some tips for the best way to clean your kids.
Work your way up to daily baths: “The barrier function of skin isn’t as developed in infants as it is in older kids, making a baby’s skin more fragile and prone to infection,” says Harfmann. “For infants whose umbilical cord stumps have fallen off, immersive baths, where most of the body is under the water, can be alternated with sponge baths outside the tub.” Of course, this depends on how much your baby needs a bath — if she’s had a major diaper blowout, getting into the tub may be the quickest and easiest way to clean her up. However, after about a year, babies’ skin becomes more resilient and can withstand a daily immersive bath.
Start without soap: Plenty of toddlers love to play in the tub, but experts don’t recommend mixing playing with washing. Instead, allow your toddler to play in a soap-free bath for ten minutes, then get down to business. That way soapy water won’t disrupt the skin barrier. And keep the water lukewarm (about 90 degrees) to avoid skin irritation. Another must: Set your hot water heater for a maximum of 120 degrees to avoid burns, especially if your child has a tendency to reach for the taps.
Apply loads of lotion: A 2014 study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that applying lotion on children can reduce the chances of eczema. So rub some on your kid immediately after a shower or bath. If your child’s skin is sensitive, opt for brands with the National Eczema Association’s seal of acceptance, a sign the product doesn’t contain any known irritants. Since lots of toddlers can be finicky about having lotion applied, give him or her the “job” of putting it on certain areas of their body while you target others, so they feel like they’re part of the process.
Play lifeguard: To prevent accidental drowning, never let your kids bathe alone in the tub before the age of seven and have them keep the door open if they’re older than that. The same caution should be applied to teenagers who are safest leaving the door unlocked when they’re bathing.