Bathing Baby

March 6, 2018 by: Roy Benaroch, MD Article Tags:

Q: How often do babies and toddlers need to be bathed?

A: I don’t think there’s an exact evidence-based answer to that-it depends, mostly, on how often they get dirty. Little babies who spit up on themselves probably need an extra bath now and then, as do toddlers who play outside. You’d also want to bathe a child who’s been sprayed with insect repellent or sunscreen, or, really, any child who’s starting to smell ripe. Overall, a reasonable bath frequency that works for many families is once a day to every other day.

Baths are also useful as part of an evening routine, to wind babies and toddlers down to give them cues that bedtime is approaching. Little children (and older children, too) find it easier to transition to sleep if they have a fixed bedtime ritual, often including bathing and reading stories and brushing teeth. Doing the same thing at the same time every night can help everyone get a more restful night’s sleep.

There are some downsides to too-frequent bathing. Some children have sensitive or dry skin, and frequent or long baths can worsen their irritated skin. It’s especially important not to let children with sensitive skin soak in soapy water or bubble bath. If they want to play in the tub, let them play in plain water, then add soap, rinse them off, and get them out.

Roy Benaroch

Roy Benaroch, MD

Roy Benaroch, MD, FAAP is an Associate Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics with Emory University. He has produced several courses exploring medical cases for laymen in his "Medical School for Everyone" lectures, available from The Great Courses, and has also written books for parents and chapters in medical textbooks. He is also on the Board of Directors of The Children's Care Network, one of the largest clinically integrated pediatric care networks in the country. Dr. Benaroch practices general pediatrics near Atlanta, GA.