How often should my toddler take a bath?

If your toddler resists when it’s time to take a bath, you’re in luck: young children don’t need to bathe every day. That doesn’t mean you need to hold off on a bath on those days when Baby goes around rubbing everything from finger paint to pasta sauce in their hair, but most days, they can get by just fine with a little bit of spot cleaning.

Why some toddlers are bathed more often

For some families, having a bath before bed is just part of the routine, like reading books or singing songs. Other toddlers may spend more time exploring the outdoors, digging in the dirt or sand each day, and by the end of it, they may end up needing a daily scrub. For children whose routines aren’t tied up in bathing, and who don’t get quite as messy, bathtime can be a great way to unwind and connect, but if, after a not-particularly-messy day, you’re just not up for giving a bath that night, there’s no reason to force it. In fact, in some cases, daily baths can actually start to become too much of a good thing.

Potential problems associated with too-frequent bathing

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies and toddlers do not need full-body washes each day – three full baths or fewer per week, unless they’re especially dirty, should do the trick. Extra bathing for toddlers who have sensitive skin can actually lead to further irritation, like drying, which can be made worse by long soaks and excessive scrubbing.

If you like a daily bath…

Stick with it if Baby isn’t showing any signs of skin issues. If you’re concerned, be sure to keep the water lukewarm to avoid skin irritation, and be sure to moisturize the skin after the bath, to reduce the risk of it drying out. Studies have shown that applying lotion to young children’s skin can also reduce the chances of eczema.

If you skip a daily bath…

That’s okay, too! On those less messy days, a good wipedown with a warm cloth should do the trick. Since young toddlers are prone to diaper rash, be sure to put extra emphasis on making the area is both dry and clean at the end of a wipe-down.

When it comes to how often you should bathe your toddler, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. So long as they stay fairly clean, and isn’t showing signs of irritation from bathing too often, stick with the routine that works best for your family.

  • “To Bathe or Not to Bathe.” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 21 2015. Web.
  • Simpson, Eric L., Joanne R. Chalmers, Jon M. Hanifin, Kim S. Thomas, Michael J. Cork, W.h. Irwin Mclean, Sara J. Brown, Zunqiu Chen, Yiyi Chen, and Hywel C. Williams. “Emollient Enhancement of the Skin Barrier from Birth Offers Effective Atopic Dermatitis Prevention.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 134.4 (2014): 818-23. Web.

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