This question is a very loaded one because I’m definitely not in the business of telling you what to do with YOUR child, however I’m just not sure that people generally know that you don’t HAVE to bathe a child every day.
Newborns and very young babies are not getting dirty enough to be bathed every day, and their skin is so sensitive it’s advised that you don’t. Toddlers and young children are getting dirtier as they’re up on their feet and getting into all sorts of mischief so they require more baths than babies. However, there is a lot of information out there telling you that bathing should be part of your bedtime routine so I see where this message is getting misconstrued that bathing needs to happen daily.
As young babies we only bathed our children twice a week in plain water, then as they got older we added a bath wash to the water. When our first child reached a toddler age we started bathing 3 times per week (our second child a little earlier as he had to bathe with his sister when he could sit up by himself!), sometimes 4 times if they’re particularly dirty. We have never used bathing as part of the bedtime routine, in fact bathing seems to have the opposite effect on our kids and totally wakes them up! We use other cues for bedtime.
Many problems with sensitive, irritated skin are made worse by bathing habits that unintentionally dry out the skin too much. Soaking in a hot bath for long periods of time and scrubbing will lead to dry skin. Additionally, many existing skin conditions will worsen if you over-scrub your child or use drying, fragranced soaps.
If bathing is part of your bedtime routine I would suggest the following tips:
- Don’t use soap in every bath, just bathe your child in plain water some of the nights.
- Make baths brief (no longer than 5-10 minutes).
- Don’t use a flannel/washcloth every night, rub soap in with your hands if necessary.
- Use soap at the end of the bath not the beginning, so they’re not sitting in soapy water for an extended period of time.
- If your child suffers from sensitive skin, put ointments or creams on when they are still pretty wet (after a little wiggle so they’re not soaking).
- Avoid products with fragrances and chemicals you can’t pronounce!
You might find that you thought your child had dry skin but really it’s because they are being over-washed with too much product. Since removing toxic chemicals from my own bathing products I have found that I barely need to moisturise my body at all.
There are some beautiful ‘real’ natural (because there are many fake natural products on the market), toxin free, gentle products out there to choose from. Small, Australian businesses (aka mums!) trying to change the way that we care for our children’s skin. Check out our range of natural skincare products here.