Bathtime rituals can vary widely from one household to the next. Some kids bathe every night, no exceptions; some kids skip baths for a week or more; some baths are short; some can last most of the evening. As parents, we generally make these decisions based on how we were raised, what our friends do, or basic intuition. But what do the experts say? How much bathing is too much? What’s recommended for kids with eczema? Do baths help or hurt sensitive skin?
Bathing practices are a huge part of skin health. A protected, moisturized skin barrier means healthy, protected skin and a healthier bub. Here, we break down the bathing habits that doctors recommend. Follow these rules to keep your bub’s skin barrier healthy, flexible and hydrated.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Kid?
A common misconception is that you should bathe newborns and toddlers every day, when actually, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends bathing toddlers and newborns two to three times a week. On non-bathing days, apply a moisturizer to the skin to maintain hydration. As kids get older, it’s fine to bathe them every day—but you don’t have to. Take your cues from their needs—their activity level and skin concerns. Our founder, Sweta Doshi, bathes her two kids every other day in the winter when air is dry and sweat levels are low, but almost every day in the summer, due to increased sweat as well as chlorine and sunscreen.
How Long Should Bathtime Last?
Too much contact with water can cause irritation: We’ve all experienced this with frequent hand washing. Excessive washing causes skin to lose its moisture content and become dry. Essentially, your skin cannot rehydrate in time to keep up. For kids with sensitive skin, it’s best to keep bathtime under 15 minutes.
If bathtime does go into overtime, the skin has its own response to prolonged water exposure—pruny fingers and toes! Once submerged for too long, the skin’s oily, waterproof, and protective sebum layer is washed away, causing it to become waterlogged. Pruny fingers aren’t a concern in and of themselves; but they are a sign that skin is at the point of moisture loss.
Best Practices for Bathing Your Child
Since hydration means water content, bathing is actually one of the most effective ways to put moisture back into the skin when done properly. Doctors recommend the below five tips for all kids, but especially for those with dry, sensitive skin, who need an especially delicate touch.
Use lukewarm water. You’ll want to check the temperature of bath water with your elbow, which is more sensitive than your hand. Baby skin is new and can scald easily. The water should feel neither hot nor cold to the touch.
Use an ultra-gentle cleanser. We recommend alternating use of our Coconut Oil Shampoo & Wash, a head-to-toe creamy wash, with our Coconut Oil Balm, which uses pure oils to gently lift away skin impurities (for face & body only). Both are ultra gentle, leaving skin soft and never stripped.
Be gentle when washing, and avoid scrubbing with brushes or washcloths, which can further irritate sensitive, flaky skin.
After bathing, gently pat skin dry.
Moisturize skin with a high-oil-content lotion such as our Whipped Coconut Oil Body Cream immediately after bathing: The National Eczema Association specifies that you should apply it within three minutes to trap water in the upper layers of the skin.