How Often Should You Be Bathing Your Kids?

How Often Should You Bathe Your Kids

After my five-year-old son spent an entire long weekend with me, I was somewhat reprimanded by his Daddy who said, ‘I know you’re a great parent. I just wish you would bathe him more often when you have him on your weekends.’

Yes, I did the deplorable! I sent my kid to his father’s house unbathed. Sort of. My son was bathed Friday evening, but that was it for the rest of the long weekend. Sure, my son may have been a little, um, sticky, and yes, he may have had marker all over his arm, but he didn’t stink. It’s not like I sent him back to his father’s looking like an extra playing the role of an orphan in Annie.

Because I sleep with my son and I’m all about smelling fresh and sleeping in clean sheets, I just kind of know when the little dude absolutely needs a bath, and likewise, when he can get away without one for a couple of days.

I gave him mini sponge baths here and there using diaper wipes to clean his sticky hands and face. But I don’t even know how often I’m supposed to shower, let alone how often my almost-six-year-old should be bathing or showering. Is there some kind of rule?

Am I wrong to assume my son really just needs to be bathed if he’s super dirty and stinky?

Bath time for kids (and parents) can either be super fun or super annoying, depending on whether they love baths or not.

Most toddlers and little ones are clean, thanks to the nightly baths, not just to get the grime of the day off their skin, but in hopes the bath relaxes them before bed, so they can fall asleep quicker. My son, however, is still a ball of energy after a bath, wanting to jump on our trampoline for hours before bedtime. He does get sweaty, but it’s not the kind of sweat that smells at all. He smells like nothing really.

How often do you bathe your children? Turns out, a little dirt doesn’t hurt!

Because his father showers twice a day I think he believes that our son should be bathed every day, where I’m more laid-back when it comes to nightly bathing. At least when it comes to my son. When it comes to me, I’m inherently NOT a morning person, and I can’t get moving unless I take a full-on shower, which includes daily shampoo and conditioner. (Yes, I can hear hair stylists all over the country gasping!)

According to this article, the American Academy of Dermatology advises parents on how often to bathe their little ones based on how ‘dirty’ and ‘smelly’ they get. ‘If they’re not too dirty from playing, the recommendation is a bath at least once or twice a week for kids between six and 11.’ Personally, I think a bath only two times a week, for an almost 6-year-old who likes to kill bugs and who purposely likes to lie on public floors, is definitely not enough. This is not because he smells, but because he’s gross.

But every day? Parents, from the moment they bring their babies home from the hospital, get into a routine of bathing their children every night. But could it be possible that we’re bathing our children too much?

The American Academy of Dermatology, says that a little dirt doesn’t hurt. ‘Their little developing immune systems need some dirt (organisms like bacteria and small doses of viruses and infections) in order to grow up strong.’

So, even science tells us that we don’t necessarily have to bathe our children daily. The AAD also suggests that kids should bathe or shower only if they get dirty, after playing in the mud, after being in a pool, lake or ocean, or when they get sweaty or have body odour.’ Thanks! That’s some genius advice! I will admit, that even if my son has been in a lake or ocean, I don’t necessarily make him bathe after either.

But when kids hit puberty, around 12, there really is no official guideline, basically leaving it to us parents to tell our kids, ‘You stink. Take a shower! And, by the way, you should start using deodorant.’ Dermatologists suggest that once puberty starts, kids should shower or take a bath daily, along with washing their face twice daily to remove oil and dirt, or after playing sports or sweating heavily, all otherwise known as…common sense?

And then, of course, is the question of how often we should shampoo our children’s locks. Like I said, I wash my hair (except on vacation) every single day, because I like my hair to smell a certain way and, also, I need the full body shower, which includes hair, to wake me up.

When it comes to children, there are shampoo guidelines based on hair type and activity level. We found a recommendation for kids between 8 and 11, which likely applies to younger kids as well. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends shampooing kids’ hair only 1 or two times a week, with a few exceptions for dry or curly hair.

As for us adults? Glamour Magazine says that a growing number of people are ‘rejecting the idea that you should lather up regularly,’ arguing that it’s actually better for our skin to be a little dirty.

According to dermatologist David E. Bank, M.D., director of the Center for Dermatology in Mount Kisco, New York, it varies. ‘Depending on your activity level, you may need to shower daily, for instance, if you have a labor-intensive job or if you exercise for over an hour every day,’ he says. Bank says there are perks to skipping the shower since over-showering can lead to dry, flaky skin. ‘By showering every other day you are able to help maintain your skin’s natural oils and make the skin softer and less irritated by hot showers,’ he says, adding that ‘the oils in your skin can help protect it against harmful bacteria.’

While I can inhale my son forever after he has been bathed, I’m not too concerned about not bathing him every single day. Honestly, how often do you bathe your kids?

Next time he hasn’t showered or bathed on one of my weekends, I’ll just lather my son up with some yummy smelling lotion. Just don’t tell his Dad.




  1. Melissa on May 28, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    My daughter has never had daily baths; they never settled her as a baby, in fact they did the opposite and energized her. Now at age 8, there’s absolutely no way she would ever get in the tub daily. It’s a fight to get her in once a week, and she *does* stink and obviously need a hair wash, too. She’s been wearing deodorant for months because she’s a very active kid who happens to have a “hot” body (she’s always warm) so she sweats quite a lot and it has started to smell. Our routine is shower on Sunday evening before snack.

    As for me: I can’t imagine showering daily, let alone twice daily. That’s a huge waste of water and completely unnecessary! I can understand having a shower at the end of the day, especially if you have a dirty/messy job (when I worked at a pet store I showered at the end of my day), but then having another shower in the morning? Nope, way too much. I shower once or twice a week, depending on the weather, how hot it is, or what I’ve been doing. On days when I work 6+ hours outside in the blazing sun, I’ll have a shower when I get home but those aren’t everyday. If I had my way, I wouldn’t need to shower more than once a month: I do NOT like showering, especially in winter!

  2. Josh on July 24, 2020 at 10:48 am

    This really depends on what region you live in. We are in Arizona and be it sweat or dirt, my daughter needs to at least rinse off daily. She does not bathe, but showers. When she is at my house, we get her in for about 5 minutes daily to just get off any dirt/dust and to teach a little girl how to take care of herself. She brushes her hair and teeth twice a day.

    As for the bathing, her mother thinks she only needs a shower once a week. My daughter swims almost every day at her mom’s house and rides horses almost every day. They have dirt all around the outside of the house. Yet she tells my daughter its not healthy to shower every day.

    I couldn’t disagree more with a daughter. I can maybe understand with a son, as I too hate to shower daily. The male body just does not have the same dangers when it comes to hygiene. We may stink a little, but a little girl not cleaning herself especially after being exposed to pool chemicals or Arizona dust/dirt/sun and horse materials (hair, poop, sweat) needs to shower daily.

    As far as hair goes, every other day I ask her to wash her hair. My sister is a cosmetologist and has been for years, she has okay’d this one. Her hair is healthy so its not doing any damage.

    I would say if you are worried about the oils on your kid being washed away. Lather them up in coconut oil afterwards.

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