Some parents swear by giving their kids a bath every day while others think once or twice a week is good enough.
So which option is the healthiest one? Nightly baths to help little Susie sleep or bi-weekly scrub downs whenever Tommy gets too dirty.
Let’s look at some important information below.
What’s The Point Of Bathing Anyway?
The whole reason behind bathing is to get clean.
Now 100 years ago (okay, maybe not even that long), and in some countries today, people only take baths once a week. You remember the Little House On The Prairie episodes where the kids would get their weekly bath on Saturday evening so they were clean for church on Sunday. Well, that was common practice back then. Now maybe the parents who were out working and sweating day in and day out took baths more frequently, but not the kids. In fact, I’d say it wasn’t too common for most people to have more than 2-3 baths a week then. Daily baths are more of a modern convenience that came about with indoor plumbing and cheaper electricity.
Now, I’m not advocating only bathing once a week. I’m just making the point that bathing is for cleaning the body. That’s the reason behind it. So if your kid is dirty, bathe him. The age of your kid and how active they are will play a big role here. Babies, they’re not going to get as dirty as let’s say a toddler will unless they spit up all over themselves or their diaper leaks.
Is There A Problem With Giving Your Child a Bath Every Day?
Giving your child a bath every day can be a problem, and there are a couple of reasons why.
- Drying to the skin
- Decrease natural bacteria count
Daily baths equal shampooing, washing the body, and soaking in warm water. Under normal circumstances, this doesn’t cause too much of a problem, but if you use a soap that’s not a mild or gentle soap, and water that’s too hot, it can pull too many of the natural oils out of your child’s skin causing it to dry out. People who suffer from eczema have also reported that frequent bathing leads to an increase in breakouts due to their skin becoming too dry.
Another disadvantage of giving your child a bath every day is that it gets their skin too clean. Too clean? Yes. Too clean. The skin needs to stay at a certain pH level in order to protect itself (and your body) from infections. By washing it with soap every day you’re removing a lot of the surface bacteria that keep the skin’s pH where it needs to be, and you can cause yourself (and your child) to be more susceptible to infections.
What About The Benefits Of Bathing Daily?
Of course, there are benefits to having daily baths. You always smell nice, your hair is always fresh and full of body, and you’re energized and ready for the day… or relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep.
Speaking of sleep. This is the main reason parents choose to bathe their kids every day… to help them relax before bed and get a good night’s sleep. It’s usually not because kids are dirty and need to get clean. It’s because it’s routine and habit. It’s because this is what they were taught to do when they had a baby. You remember right? Give the baby a nice warm bath with chamomile or lavender essential oils to help them sleep well. I remember that… although I was too busy to actually do that on a regular basis.
If helping your child have a good night’s sleep is your main reason for giving them a daily bath, let me share some other ways you can help them relax and sleep that have nothing to do with a bath.
4 Ways To Help Your Child Relax Before Bed
1. Bedtime Massage
Kids of all ages like massages. It feels good, and it’s good for their skin and their mood. You can use oils, creams, or lotions on them before putting their jammies on, and this really sets them up to be relaxed and sleep well… especially if your oil or lotion has a nice relaxing scent using essential oils.
2. Essential Oil Aromatherapy
A lot of companies are now making essential oil diffusers these days.
But, I’m not sure how safe these are. I can’t speak negatively about them because I’ve not looked into them or tried them. I’m tempted to because I’d love to find a way to have more essential oil smells in my home, but my concern is with getting too much exposure to the oils at once. Essential oils are great, but they are strong and they can have negative effects on health if too much is used. They can be very cleansing to your home since many oils have disinfectant-type properties, but I’m not sure if constantly breathing them in would be no good. Like I said… I’ll have to look into this more. I just wanted to put that caution out there in case you were wondering about it like me.
Another way to use aromatherapy for your child is to use a linen spray for their sheets or to use an essential oil light ring. You can even wet a washcloth and put a few drops of oil on it and set it beside your child’s bed. The vapors will slowly release into the air as they sleep.
UPDATE: Since writing this post, I’ve done some research on essential oil diffusers and found that most aromatherapists recommend this type of application over many others as it’s one of the safest ways to use EOs. (Harris, 2013) My mother-in-law bought this essential oil diffuser for me, and I love it! However, I am still very careful about using it and the oils in a safe manner, especially with my children.
3. Bedtime Routine
Bedtime routines are probably the first place to start when trying to help your kids relax before bed. Part of your routine may occasionally be a bath along with the above options as well as a book or some one-on-one time with mom or dad talking about your kids’ day.
4. Bedtime Tryptophan Snack
You’ve heard about turkey meat and warm milk helping you to sleep, right? That’s true, and it’s because they contain high levels of tryptophan. Tryptophan is one of the 9 essential amino acids that your body needs as it helps the body produce serotonin .. a chemical that promotes a proper sleep cycle.
Snacks like poultry, nuts and seeds, dairy products, seafood, and legumes all contain higher levels of tryptophan with the meats being the highest.
So What Do You Say… Does Your Child Need A Bath Every Day?
Well, I’m not sure about you, but here we don’t bathe every day. I bathe my kids when they’re dirty, and that equals out to about 2-3 baths a week. One bath each week is complete with getting their hair and body washed with soap/shampoo, but the other baths usually are just with oatmeal milk baths or bath bombs. This way, their skin is getting clean, but also being nourished at the same time. They look and smell just fine, and I’m not worried about any harm coming from our bathing regimen.