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You hear so many different things about bathing and grooming your toddler. Your doctor says to give him a bath every few days, the parenting magazines say to bathe every day, your friends have their own opinions, and your mother, of course, has hers. So, how often should you really bathe your toddler?

Children do not need their hair washed every day!

Well, as you know, a two- or three-year-old can get very dirty within a very short span of time.

This is a time for experimenting with self-feeding, lots of outside play, and exploring, whether it be digging in the dirt or in the garbage can. Some days, you probably look at your cute, adorable, little mess and think, “There’s no question. He’s absolutely got to have a bath.”

First of all, the toddler years are also years when a child’s body is still developing, including the immune system. If it is the germs that worry you, don’t fret. Germs aren’t always a bad thing.

Children are supposed to come into contact with germs. This is the only way their bodies learn how to fight off bacteria and viruses, which can cause illness, so a few germs left behind after a day’s play isn’t all that horrible.

Another issue that crops up is more so an issue of hair-washing, rather than an issue of bathing. If your child is in school or attends daycare, head lice are always a possibility; and, believe it or not, head lice prefer immaculately clean hair, like the hair of a child that is washed every single night. So, if you do decide to go the daily bath route, you do not need to wash your child’s hair every day.

Children are supposed to come into contact with germs!

Finally, there is always the issue of time and effort on the part of the parent, especially a parent who has two or more children.

Bathing each and every night is not always feasible, nor is it always desirable. Also, sometimes, if you’re like many parents, you just don’t feel like it. However, you shouldn’t feel bad or guilty. Your child will be fine with a bath every other night.  Children need adult supervision in the bath until at least age 4, so if you don’t have time to be with them that night, it can wait for the next opportunity.

Eczema and other skin conditions are other reasons to not bathe every day. Many of these conditions, along with just plain, sensitive skin, are only worsened with regular bathing, especially if your child likes long, hot baths. It is actually best to bathe children with such conditions every two to three days, as bathing every day only dries out the skin and worsens the problems.  If you do want to bathe them every day, do a short, lukewarm bath with just a little soap or cleanser at the end before rinsing off and getting out of the tub.  Then pat them dry and apply moisturizing cream or other treatment as recommended by their doctor to their still-damp skin.

On the other hand, many parents just feel that a bath every day is necessary – that a dirty child needs to be properly washed, and this is okay too. If you choose to bathe your child every day, and there are no medical reasons why you shouldn’t, a bath before bedtime is a great way to relax a child, and is a great start to a wonderful bedtime ritual.