It’s been a hot topic of conversation for the past month or so since mentioning to a group of girlfriends (fellow mothers) that I bathe my boys every single night and feel horribly guilty on the rare “off” days when they manage to skip by without a full and proper wash down. Fact being, I was the only one in the group who felt daily baths totally necessary. The more I asked around, the more I saw that I was in fact in the minority in regards to views on such a ritual. I explained how gross and grimy they are at the end of the day. “Yep, my kids too” they laughed. How even the sheets show what we failed to scrub away on the days they get by without one. How I literally can’t stop myself from envisioning dragging a sopping wet cloth across their dirty little faces while they are mid way through a playdate, begging me for an extra hour in the sun, caked in dirt. Stained with jelly. Fingernails lined with mud.
What I gathered was that most people I know, with kids about the same age, do not feel an end of the night bath or shower is vital to their children’s overall well being. Which of course made me come to question mine entirely. Especially because on certain days, seeing to it that four boys are bathed with brushed teeth and combed hair before bed itself is overwhelming. And for me it’s not about the germs. In fact those who know me know that I almost painfully lax when it comes to such things. For me I would argue that it’s more about a sense of comfort and routine that comes with soaking in the tub after a hard day’s play. About clean slicked hair and freshly gleaming cheeks smelling sweet as I tuck them in. Not to mention the nice little break it offers me just when I really need it most. Sometimes a full hour I can sit and answer emails or make phone calls while they splash happily around in the bathroom. But then again, I am a life long bath lover myself. I take one every morning in the winter just to warm and / or wake myself up. When I have a head ache, or a heartache, or just an altogether hard or stressful day the first thing I want to do is draw a bath and sit there in silence in steaming hot waters. So I suppose it’s also a form of therapy for me as well when I start to consider that just about any ailment that strikes has me in the back of my head thinking, “nothing a warm bath can’t help.”
As for frequency, when I questioned various friends about their own household habits they all confessed to “about three times a week” to “maybe every other day” to once “or twice” a week for babies. And then my friend Julie sent along an article, after our conversation during a playdate recently, sharing this link (actually written by Lauren, a much valued occasional contributor here. Hi Lauren!) in which I figured the subject was well worth its own post here as well.
Excerpt for example: “But back to the question of bathing. Search for “how often should I bathe my child” and you will find varying opinions. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that children aged 6 to 11 should bathe at least once or twice a week, or after they have been playing in dirt or mud, have been swimming in a pond, lake, ocean, or pool, or when they get sweaty or have body odor while others, like pediatrician David Geller, says that swim in a pool or lake counts as the bath.
For newborns, the story is even less clear. Despite the fact that babies are born with a natural skin protectant which is also full of immune properties (vernix), it is considered routine for hospitals to administer a baby’s first bath within hours of the baby’s birth. Delaying baby’s first bath for at least a couple of days is reasonable– wiping with a wet cloth around the neck and diaper area should be sufficient in keeping baby clean.
It all seems pretty straightforward; wash your kid if he stinks or is visibly dirty, but otherwise we can relax a bit on being clean as a whistle. Wash hands regularly with good old-fashioned soap and water and spot clean with a washcloth between baths, and I’m willing to bet everyone will be happier (and healthier). After all, haven’t we all heard the saying, “A little dirt doesn’t hurt?”
The answer is no, of course not.” – Via The Washington Post
So, let’s hear it. What’s you take on the bath debate? When, why, and how often?