How often should children in grade school bathe? If you ask Circle of Moms members about family bath time rituals, opinions vary — from settling for thrice-a-week baths to insisting on showers once (or even twice) every day. To help you decide what to do, here are six factors to consider when setting bathing routines for your children.
1. Dirtiness and Germs
Perhaps the simplest benchmark moms use to decide whether their kids should bathe is whether they've been playing outside that day. As Candi P. shares, “My daughter gets a bath everyday for the most part. She is very fond of being outside, so there is no helping in the fact she is coming in dirty. However, if it has been a day where she can't be outside and hasn't gotten dirty or real sweaty, then I let her slide with every other day.” Crystal R. has a similar routine in place: “During school times my three kids get a bath every night. On the weekends like Friday and Saturday it depends on what we have done. If it was a day at the park they get a bath. If we lounged around the house then they can wait.”
Other moms, however, insist that children should bathe daily whether they've been playing outside or not, in order to eliminate germs. As mom-of-four Amanda L. shares, “Your skin is the protective layer of your body and comes into contact with everything, even though you may not see anything wrong with bathing every other day or every three days. You still have germs, dust mites and bacteria all over you either from your bed sheets, your clothes, furniture, people around you and the outside air.” Dawn B. agrees: "OK, call me old-fashioned, but I believe kids should be bathed at least once a day as a rule."
2. Skin and Hair Type
Genetics and health concerns also play a role in how moms decide on their children's bathing frequency. Some kids have oily hair that needs frequent washing, while others have sensitive skin that reacts poorly to frequent exposure to hot water and soap. As Amy F. relays: “My younger son has very dry skin and it's unkind, especially in the winter, to make him shower, so he does a sponge wash several times a week and showers once per week.” Lissa H. agrees: “It's twice a week for the children in my house until they reach the stinky teenage years. Bathing too often causes skin problems and washing hair too often strips it of its natural minerals.”
Puberty is another important factor to consider when setting your children's bath routines, since the sudden surge of hormones during puberty is generally accompanied by some smelly perspiration. Claudia E. shares: ”For my six-year-old, every other day is no big deal, but for my 10-year-old, because he is going through puberty and is starting to perspire, he gets a shower every day.” Moms like Jennifer C. are also quick to point out that suggesting (or making) a tween bathe more often may even save your child from teasing among her peers: “My 10-year-old says if she doesn't bath regularly people will make fun of her and no one will want to hang around with her.”
It’s certainly more common for kids to get stinky during the hot summer months. As a result, moms like Carol E. recommend increasing how often kids bathe during warm weather: “If their hair doesn't need it then wash it every other day in the winter, but in the summer wash it every day. Remember, with the heat of summer smells are worse because we sweat."
Lauren G. agrees. “I bathe my kids every day, especially in the summer,” she says. “Once in a while they will skip a day in the winter if we didn't do much.”
5. Tomorrow's Schedule
Will your kids be hanging out at the pool or neighborhood park sandbox tomorrow? Or will they need to be scrubbed and shiny for school or church? In some houses, the “to bathe or not” question comes down to how clean the kids need to be the next day. Beth Y., for example, absolutely insists her preteen shower before things like family gatherings and church.
6. Today's Schedule
Moms like Shannin T., whose kids only bathe a couple times a week, say a daily shower simply isn't realistic given her family's hectic schedules. “Between homework and football practice and cooking dinner, and my daughters really long hair, it’s really hard to fit it in.” Similarly, a member who goes by the name Mama B. shares: "I have decided that it's enough for my seven-year-old twins to have a shower every other day and sometimes we even leave it to two days unless they have had sports or are particularly dirty."
How often do you bathe your kids?
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