Bathe Your Children Less Often

It’s really nice karma when doing what’s best for the planet, for your children’s health and saving time & money, all align.  It turns out that this is the case with bathing children, particularly infants.  I’ve consulted with several pediatricians and dermatologists they agree, if your child isn’t actually dirty, it’s not necessary to bathe him or her more than once a week.

bath tub faucet with running waterWhy have I consulted with several doctors on this?  To assuage my mommy guilt of course!  As a new mom of twin infants, I was just too tired and overwhelmed to bathe them very often.  Each time I had to clean off the counters, get out the soap, the towels, the bath tub insert, the lotions, I was just overwhelmed.  I didn’t want to do it.  My babies were preemies, so we had frequent doctor’s visits and I still remember on an early visit sheepishly admitting that I hadn’t bathed the babies all week.  The doctor assured me that this was perfectly fine.  New babies don’t need all their protective oils washed away all the time. She suggested that wiping their faces (and necks, those folds catch milk drips!) once or twice a day with a washcloth and wiping their hands was all they needed on a daily basis.

child in bathtub

Protect your childrens’ skin by bathing them only when dirty

As my children got older I’d check in on the whole bathing issue – and remember back to our once a week baths as children – and realize that there was no need to be bathing them too often.  I have since learned more about soap, and that many of them have harsh chemicals that I don’t want to put on my children’s skin that often and I want to minimize how much I put down the sewer system. Once I got to see the inner workings of our local water treatment plant and there was tons of soap scum and soap bubbles getting filtered out of the system.  It was gross.

During the summer they get more frequent baths – rinsing off pool chemicals and sand from our local swimming pond, washing the dirt off of their legs and knees.  As my daughter is getting older I find that her hair gets greasy faster, so she has to wash it about twice a week to keep it looking clean.  I’ve been recently thinking that teens and pre-teens probably have to bathe more often because of body odor and all the hormones cause greasier hair.  However, when you get older, it is helpful to realize that your body is producing fewer chemicals and you can cut back on the showering and hair washing.  I only wash my hair about twice week, since I trained it to need less frequent washing.  Speaking of which, it’s a hair washing night for me, so I’ll leave you with this thought:

Bathing your children once a week uses less soap, less water,  less energy to move and heat the water, and is better for your children!

Happy Greening!

Alicia

For more tips on saving water when bathing children, see our post Simple Water Saving Ideas.

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Comments

  1. “Babies don’t get dirty”, said our pediatrician, even before we left the hospital. I think he could see we needed the brakes put on a bit. So we did! You’re right, teens do need to shower daily. After that, it depends on your skin, your (pre)occupation, and your general stress level. But babies don’t generally have stress, and indeed they don’t need a bath too often. Phew!

    • Agreed. The only dirty to really worry about on newborn babies is the dried milk around their necks. A gentle cleaning with a soft wet wash cloth is sufficient to avoid a very stinky situation.

  2. I don’t bathe often, only when my hair gets dirty about every 3 or 4 days. My daughter followed my same routine. As an toddler toddler she took more frequent baths just for fun (water only plus tons of toys). She’s 5 now and just started Kindergarten and I find I’m bathing her more because I’m afraid of what might happen if people find her to be unclean. I don’t know… I guess I’m more afraid of other parents than I am of germs…

  3. I wash my girls’ hair about once a week. During winter, they bathe only a couple times a week usually. During summer, it’s probably most days to wash the dirt off – although it’s usually just a water bath without soap. When school starts up, it’ll probably be more frequent since they do a lot of outdoor activities.

  4. I totally agree. We bathe my daughter 1-2 times a week depending on how many trips to the sandbox she makes. Since she has very dry skin (eczema) we try to limit bath time as well and do a quick rinse, wash, and soap up her hair. My son bathes a bit more often… 2-3 times a week but that’s only because he LOVES baths and showers.

  5. Every other day. If we do water bazookas that counts as a bath. It takes SO MUCH TIME not to mention the drag on the environment.. And I do bathe the kids together :)

    me, every day. especially in the summer. walking several miles pushing the double stroller in the heat = shower required! living the no car dream :) i think it’s an acceptable tradeoff!

  6. Absolutely agree. When we had our first child, I thought a bath would be the perfect part of his bedtime routine…how wrong I was! He developed eczema and I finally realized that his skin needed it’s natural oils. Now we have 3 kids and they get bathed about once a week. Our baby never has dry skin and I’m glad they get less chemicals on their skin from soaps and lotions.

  7. My kids have never bathed more than once a week. As babies the milk was wiped off with a washcloth and well, the important bits were always cleaned at diaper changes. As toddlers, I find they need to be bathed a bit more as they play harder. Truth be told, though, this may all stem from laziness more so than an altruistic effort to save the planet. :-)

  8. Love this article! Most of the other moms that I know insist on baths every night for their kids. My daughter averages about 2 baths a week. She is 3 and it seemed silly to make her take a bath every day when she wasn’t the least bit dirty!

  9. Up until recently, my son was getting baths about 2x a week. Sometimes only once if we forgot. He turned 10 last week, and this summer we realized he needs to shower a lot more often. Every day after exercising is a must. If it’s cool and we don’t go anywhere/exercise he can skip a day, but that’s it! He’s also started using deodorant!

    I shower every day. I just FEEL icky if I don’t shower everyday! I only wash my hair once a week though! :)

    • Diana, I shower every day myself too. As our kids get older and their bodies develop, more frequent cleaning is as you put it “a must.” One of our kids is just starting to show signs of needing more frequent showers and using deodorant. We could never have managed daily bathing of the twins when they were younger or all three right now given our busy lives.

  10. Since my second child (now 14 years old) had very dry skin as a baby and the doctor said not to bathe him more often than once a week at the most, none of the children have had “proper” baths (hair washing and all) more often than that, and for the last two years, I have used no soaps or shampoos of any kind on the two youngest children (3 and nearly 5). A friend just a few days ago commented spontaneously on how soft and beautiful my three-year-old’s hair is. I haven’t used any shampoo myself for two years now, although I do use diluted vinegar about once a week and baking soda every maybe 10-14 days. (I don’t use any kind of soap on my body, but never did.) I shower every day, sometimes twice (it’s very hot and humid where we live), but I’ve had showers that have lasted under two minutes, and if it’s a five-minute shower, then it’s usually because a small person or two joined me. The two youngest children also shower most days, the 8yo and 11yo a few times a week, and I don’t keep track of my older two anymore. They’re the only ones who still use shampoo, also the only ones with greasy hair, but whether that’s because they shampoo too often, not enough, or just because they’re 14 and nearly 16, I don’t know. I do know that our water bill for eight people is lower than some families have for four people…

    • Sheila, our youngest loves taking what he calls “shower baths” where he gets in the shower with one of us and we close the drain while we shower. Great job keeping your showers under five minutes!

  11. Great post! It always kind of boggled my mind how often all my friends had their kids bathe – especially babies, who aren’t really working up a sweat! Mind you, I’d understand if it helped get them to sleep. once they were past a certain age it just seemed to get mine all revved up!

    My eleven year old is moving into a time when he does need to have more frequent showers, but as yet, two or three times a week seems to be plenty, even for him.

    (Hi, btw, I’m Kirsten. I just popped by from Simple Mom’s weekend links).

    • Thanks for stopping by Kristen, I hope you got the chance to check out some of our other posts. I do sometimes wonder why they bathe their children so often!

  12. Oh thank you! My oldest is 4, and I always feel a little guilty when we are out in the evening, and when it’s about time to leave, adults tell my kids they better get home to take their bedtime bath.

    My kids (the older two, 3 and 4 yrs of age) look at the confused, as we don’t actually have “bath time”. Not to mention “bed time”. I bathe them when they are dirty, and sometimes, I just wipe them down real quick before we head out the door!

    So, thank you for confirming that I am not horrible for not bathing them every.single.night. With 3 little kids, bath time when not needed is sometimes too much work :)

    • I totally agree Sabrina, bath time is too much work with a bunch of little kids – and sometimes even with just one. I’m so glad we’ve hit the point where my oldest two can pretty much give themselves baths!

  13. I’ve started using a product called DryBath “the world’s first bath-substituting gel”, first invented by some high school student 5 years ago. It took some time to get used to the idea when my husband suggested it, but the product works better than I thought. It works wonders on those days when my kid throws a tantrum about bathing, I use it as a great treat for him during some weekdays. You can see it at http://goo.gl/18jnbP, and make sure to watch the inventor’s funny TED Talk about it on http://goo.gl/Et1Boj . Haha I’ve actually started using it on lazy days, and the company also has a funny campaign where they’re trying to get people to skip showers for a whole weekend.
    Hope you find it as useful as I did :-).

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