Ask Dr. Marla: I don't bathe my kid everyday

By Dr. Marla Shapiro on March 22, 2012

Question

My six-year-old showers only twice a week, yet other parents seem to give their kids baths every night. I have heard overbathing is not good for skin, especially in the winter. 

Answer

The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is not necessary to bathe a baby every day. They really are not getting that dirty. By age six, we often suggest you take a look at your child’s lifestyle. When surveying my colleagues, the resounding answer I got was that it takes common sense. If your child is dirty or smells, then it is time for a bath! 

Even if it’s not bath night, make sure children are regularly washing their hands and face for an extended period of time. During cold and flu season, you are apt to hear me say “wash your hands!” It is one of the best lines of defence for stopping the spread of germs. 

You’re right, overbathing might be detrimental. According to SickKids Hospital in Toronto, too much (or too little) bathing can lead to dry skin. Too much soapy water rinses away the body’s natural lubricating oils. If your child does have dry skin, use warm water rather than hot for showers or baths. Limit bathing time to 15 minutes or less and consider bathing your baby every other day when possible, and towel washing her on the off-bath days.


Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, February/March 2012.

By Dr. Marla Shapiro| March 22, 2012

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