Did you know that it can actually be detrimental to your baby to bathe them every night or even every other night? Now when I say “bathe”, I’m talking about full on soap and/or shampoo, not just water. If you are just giving them a quick rinse down, whether it be a sponge bath, a once over with a wet rag, or even just a quick “wash” in the tub or sink with just water, that is totally fine. Also, when I use the term “baby” I am talking about children under the age of one in general.
Why can it potentially be harmful? Let’s think about it for a second. Tying this in to my “Living in a Chemical World” post, many of the mainstream baby washes and shampoos on the market are not as gentle as their companies would like you to think they are. Many of them are full of unnecessary chemicals that you probably wouldn’t want to use on yourself if you knew what they were, let alone your little one! Am I trying to scare you or freak you out? Maybe a little bit, but mostly I’m just trying to help people become more aware of what they are putting on their families’ bodies.
Anyhow, baby washes, shampoos, and lotions can actually dry baby’s skin out if used too often. Totally opposite effect of what we’re going for, right? Too much washing can also rid baby’s skin of good bacteria, which could cause them to become more susceptible to infections. Remember, skin is the largest organ of the body and needs to be taken care of and healthy too! You can read more about the science behind this HERE.
So, how often IS it ok to wash your baby? An article from healthychildren.org states that “frequent full body washes” aren’t really necessary until your child starts getting TRULY dirty, such as when they start crawling and getting messy from feeding themselves. The “Baby Bath Basics: A Parents’ Guide” page on the Mayo Clinic site states that “bathing your baby more than several times a week can dry out his or her skin.” (In reference to newborns, but still.)
Is it ok to still use washes on your babies? Of course, but truly, it is not necessary EVERY time until they start getting more mobile. (aka Into anything and everything gross imaginable!) Also, if you are able, try to find a mild soap, such as liquid castile soap.
Personally, we didn’t even give Myka a “real bath” until she was at least 3 weeks old. (Mostly because her cord stump took FOR-EV-ER to fall off.) Even then, we usually just gave her a quick wipe with a warm, wet rag if she was starting to get “dirty”, especially in the dreaded neck region. For the first several months we only bathed her once a week. I can’t remember exactly how old she was when we started doing it twice a week. I’m guessing around 4 months or so and we’ve only been doing baths that often until recently. Between her crawling, getting a little messy while eating, and the walks we go on some days, we’re trying to make a point to give her 3 baths a week now.
What are your thoughts on the matter? How often do you give your kids baths?