The case for bathing your kids less
In July 2021 there was controversy over how often you should bath your kids.
Not because some dermatologist said something outrageous, or because a child died from not being washed enough, no. It was because Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis told the world that they don’t worry too much about how often their kids have a bath. In fact, they said that they waited until their kids were dirty to bath them at all.
The internet blew up with hot takes, because of course it did. People argued online and offline about why it mattered whether you did or did not bath your kids frequently and how ‘frequently’ was the right frequency of bathing. Parents who take bathing their kids seriously were grossed out, those of us (yes, literally us) who struggle to find the time were relieved to hear that we might not be totally negligent parents.
Eventually the dermatologists weighed in and… sided with Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis! We claimed personal victory, delighted we had one less thing to feel guilty about. It was now gospel that we really didn’t need to be bathing our kids as often as we might think.
The truth is, adults in the UK already bath or shower more than they should for maintaining healthy skin. London in particular is full of clean freaks apparently with 20% of people more likely to shower every day than in any other part of the country. We apparently just can’t get enough of that squeaky clean feeling.
But when we translate that outlook to our kids, it turns out, it’s not great for them. When you look into it, those celebs were speaking the truth. This is what the dermatologists were getting at.
- Kids skin is thinner than adult’s skin so it’s more vulnerable to letting bad stuff in. A child’s skin is 3-5 times thinner than an adults and the top most layer is vulnerable to being damaged easily, and when it is damaged, there are fewer barriers to protect your kids.
- Water actually dries our skin out and because kids are more vulnerable to this, more contact time with water will leave your kid’s skin drier. That makes it more prone to cracking and more vulnerable to infections. Leaving your kids for a long time in the bath, just ain’t good for them.
- While there’s been a lot of focus on putting the right skincare on your kids, there’s still a lot we don’t know. There are some great brands offering natural, sensitive-skin friendly formulations, but that’s not yet the norm. Baby skin for example if far more neutral in its acidity (more like water) than adult skin, so you want to be careful of the soaps you’re using to avoid irritating their skin.
- Then there’s always the question of what you’re actually washing their skin with – not the wet skincare stuff, but the sponge, cloth or brush. How long has it been sat there accumulating bacteria in your warm, moist bathroom?
- Moisturiser is much more important for your child’s skin. Kids skin naturally has fewer moisturising factors absorbing moisture from the surrounding air so it needs some extra assistance. Moisturiser also helps create a stronger barrier to prevent unwanted things getting in. There’s really no point spending all the time washing your kids if you’re not dosing up daily on the moisturiser to go with it.
So the science really backs up the view that you don’t need to get in a state about washing your kids often enough. Which is great news because we were struggling anyway. With 3 kids under the age of 4, it’s a challenge to fit everything in all the time and make sure everyone has what they need. In the long list of things to do for them, bathing them would often be the one that fell of the list (despite our good intentions) at the end of the day.
We were previously left feeling guilty (a crappy place to be for any parent), but also helpless to do much about it. So the confidence that comes with knowing there are ways to look after your kid’s skin – moisturising – without going through the whole routine of bath time is great news. Knowing that I don’t need to carry around guilt for how often I bath my kids, that’s amazing news!
So our bath less challenge is designed to avoid making a special bonding moment like bath time another one of those chores that defeats and divides you. Rather than beating yourself up about not bathing your kids, or doing it while stressing and getting frustrated at them, take a step back, enjoy the bath times you do give your kids, and just bath them less!
The bath less challenge:
We’re on a mission to give you time back as a parent, guilt free. Time back to spend time with your kids, free from frustration and the stress of daily care routines. Try the below and enjoy hanging out, having conversations and ultimately doing a better job looking after your kid’s skin.
- Try bathing your kids 1x less than you normally would this week.
- Only bathed them once last week? Try just waiting till you know they ‘need’ it. Or push it to 10 days.
- Feels too extreme? Try and let your kids wash themselves. Don’t worry too much about whether they’ve done the perfect job or not (you’re trying to get them to bath a little less anyway). Just let them get on with it and don’t sweat the results. Try our Pebbl bath time brush to make it easy.
- Try a no product bath, just water fun and some toys - no soap. Keep the bathtime to allow you space to talk to your kid about what’s been going on that day, but take the pressure off having to go through the routine of washing.
- Moisturise your kids each time they’re getting dressed in the morning – face, knees and elbows if that’s all you can manage.
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