While you might enjoy the occasional soak as part of a self-care routine, showering is the go-to bathing method for most adults. And although lathering up under a steady stream of water is undoubtedly more efficient than washing yourself in the tub, baths are a safe, effective option for babies and younger children.
Like potty training, independent bathing is one milestone that can make parents’ lives so much easier. So, when can your child start taking showers? Read on for insight.
When should kids start taking showers?
Every kid is different. Some will be ready to take showers by age 6, while others may not be up for it until they’re 10 or older. Since there’s no one-size-fits-all age, you’ll want to take into account your kiddo’s understanding of the bathing process, their ability to wash their own body, and of course, their willingness to try it. Following their lead is a great approach.
Helping your child take their first shower
Some parents or much older siblings shower with their little ones from a young age. Not all babies and toddlers enjoy showers, but for those who do, this may help ease them into the idea. In any case, you’ll want to help your child take their first shower before letting them try it on their own. This can help them understand the order of what to do, step 1 turn on the shower, step 2 check the temperature, step 3 put shampoo on your hand, and so on!
If your child enjoys sprinkler play on sunny days, you can tell them the shower is kind of like a sprinkler. Try introducing the overhead water stream during a bath, starting with a light sprinkle, then add more pressure if they like it.
Then if they’re up for it, try it without the bath component. These first few go-arounds, guide your kiddo in washing their body and hair, explaining how to rinse thoroughly and avoid getting soap in their eyes. Using tear free shampoo at first can be really helpful.
Shower safety for kids
High water temperatures and slippery surfaces can be a safety concern for independent showering. You might be able to set a temperature limit for your water heater. If not, consider marking the faucet dial so your child knows exactly where to set it. Teaching them to wait after the water is running and check the temperature with their hand is an important step. A grippy mat can help prevent slips.
Don’t push it
The transition may be an exciting, welcoming change for some. But others may be more timid about the process, particularly those with sensory processing issues. If your child isn’t enthusiastic about taking showers, don’t push the issue.
It’s completely fine to continue taking baths for the time being. You can always reintroduce the idea down the road. And who knows? Your child may express interest sooner than later, whether they want privacy, independence, or just decide showering sounds fun.
How often should kids shower?
How often a kid should shower depends on what they do throughout the day. For instance, playing soccer, building sand castles, and splashing in mud puddles will get them dirtier than a quieter day of books, crafts, and indoor play.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, children 11 and younger (including babies and toddlers) should bathe at least three times a week. While daily cleaning isn’t always necessary, consistency can be helpful for maintaining a bedtime routine. For tweens and teens, daily showering is recommended.
Making this milestone as smooth as possible
The transition from baths to showers should be a positive experience. To help this milestone go as smoothly as possible, parents can talk to their kids about what it means (independence, privacy, no bath before bedtime, etc.) and encourage them to speak up about any concerns. You can also mark the occasion with new washcloths, fun sponges, or their choice of new body wash. And as always, check in with your pediatrician if you have any questions along the way.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
- Cleveland Clinic. How Often Should Your Kids Take a Bath or Shower? Health Essentials. Pediatrics. 2020. Web.
- McCarthy C. Does your child need to bathe every day? Harvard Health Publishing. Harvard Medical School. 2021. Web.
- Arky B. Sensory Processing Issues Explained. Child Mind Institute. 2022. Web.