Taking a bath or shower is how we keep ourselves clean and free from germs. Grown-ups have different schedules for showers – some do it every other day, while others do it daily. However, when it comes to babies and toddlers, parents often wonder how often they should bathe their little ones.
Different parents have different opinions on this matter. Some suggest making it a bedtime routine, while others suggest doing it less often. In this article, we will clarify this topic.
How Often Should I Bathe My Baby Or Toddler
Deciding how frequently to bathe your baby or toddler is entirely your call. Some parents include bathing as part of their child’s bedtime routine since it helps them sleep better. However, bathing too frequently can do more harm than good. During the first year, babies do not need to bathe daily; bathing them three times a week is enough.
In fact, the recommendation for the first bath has changed over the years, and delaying it for 24 hours after birth is now considered more beneficial. This delay aids breastfeeding and reduces the risk of hypothermia. For now, cleaning up after spit-ups and diaper changes is sufficient. When your baby starts crawling, you can increase bath times. If you’re concerned about germs as your baby explores, you can wipe their hands whenever possible. However, don’t worry too much since not all bacteria are harmful.
As your baby grows into a toddler, you can increase the frequency of baths. The toddler stage (between 12 to 36 months) is when they start exploring things with their hands. They might try self-feeding, dig in the dirt or even play with garbage. These activities require proper sanitation, but you still don’t need to bathe them daily. Instead, teach your toddler how to wash their hands properly with soap and remind them to do it after playing.
Why Everyday Baths Are Not Always Ideal
Not All Germs Are Bad
If you’re worried about germs when bathing your baby or toddler, you might be surprised to learn that not all bacteria are harmful. As your child is still developing, including their immune system, exposure to certain germs can strengthen their defenses against viruses and conditions like asthma and allergies.
In fact, a study found that the youngest baby in a larger family was less likely to develop allergies and asthma, as they were exposed to germs and bacteria from their siblings’ infections earlier on. While not every infection is beneficial, exposure to certain contagions is necessary for a baby’s body to learn how to fight them.
Bathing your little one too often can lead to dry skin and worsening conditions like eczema. This can be a frustrating problem for parents. Keeping your baby’s skin moisturized is crucial in managing eczema flares, so cutting back on bath time can help.
But it can be challenging to find the right balance because not often bathing enough can also worsen eczema and other skin issues. It’s not necessarily the water that irritates sensitive skin but rather the soap and cleansing products we use.
So, if your child has sensitive or eczema-prone skin, limit baths to every two to three days. If you choose to bathe your baby daily, keep it short and use lukewarm water. Use cleansers or soap only at the end to minimize exposure.
After the bath, gently pat your baby dry with a towel, don’t rub. Then, apply a child-friendly moisturizing lotion or cream recommended by your pediatrician. If you’ve noticed a sensitivity to oat cereal, it’s best to avoid any skin products that contain colloidal oatmeal, as it can worsen eczema.
To help combat dry skin, apply the lotion or cream while your baby’s skin is still slightly damp, then pat gently again with a towel.
If you’re bathing your toddler every day, it’s important to be mindful of the shampoo you use. Shampoos are designed to remove oils from the hair, which can give it a shiny and healthy appearance in adults. However, it’s a different story for babies and toddlers. Over-shampooing can dry out their delicate hair, especially if they have coarse or curly locks.
Keeping toddlers’ hair clean can be challenging, especially for girls who love to get stuff in their hair. The key is to wash it only when needed, and when you do, use a mild baby shampoo that won’t strip away natural oils with frequent use.
How long should I bathe my baby?
You should aim for a bath time of 5-10 minutes for babies and 10-15 minutes for toddlers.
What products should I use for bathing my baby?
Use mild, fragrance-free baby soap and shampoo, and avoid using any harsh chemicals or scrubs.
What should I do if my baby doesn’t like baths?
Try to make bath time a fun and relaxing experience with toys, bubbles, and gentle singing. You can also try bathing your baby to help them feel more comfortable.
Can I use bath oils or bubbles for my baby?
It’s best to avoid using bath oils or bubbles for babies under 6 months old and to use them sparingly for older babies and toddlers.
What should I do if my baby gets water in their ears?
Gently tilt your baby’s head to the side and use a clean towel or tissue to dry their ear, being careful not to insert anything into their ear canal.
A Little Bit Of Dirt Is Harmless
New parents often wonder how often they should bathe their little ones, and it can be challenging to determine the best course of action. Experts generally recommend bathing babies and toddlers about three times a week during their first year. However, it’s entirely up to the parent’s preference and routine.
If you choose to bathe your baby more frequently, it’s important to minimize using soap and cleansing products. Short baths are recommended, and after each bath, apply a baby-friendly moisturizer to help keep the skin soft and supple.