General Question

iLove's avatar

How often do you bathe your 4-5 year old child?

Asked by iLove (2344points) April 29th, 2011

Ok – before you go, WTF? Here’s the story:

My daughter is 4, and lives with me ~300 days out of the year. Her father and I have been separated for almost 2 years and our divorce is almost final.

He grew up in a poor household with 2 brothers and apparently they only got baths once a week. He thought the same would apply to our daughter. I do not agree.

For some reason, he gets very pushy about giving her baths when he has her the 4 days out of the month. I tried a compromise – that every other day was ok, which meant he would only have to bathe her once or twice a month. I also suggested “wash-ups” where he wouldn’t have to give her a full bath each time. Unfortunately, she does get rashes often if she doesn’t get a bath or wash-up every other day.

I am curious about what you other Fluther parents think.

we actually get along well despite the circumstances but this morning he called me and yelled at me because I asked him to give her a bath tonight and it made me furious

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32 Answers

nebule's avatar

Ok, well, I bath my son every other day or at least once every third day. Occasionally he’ll have a bath two days on the run depending on how dirty he gets. I think the thing to remember is that kids don’t particularly get very smelly quickly, but every child is different and another thing is that children generally like having baths, it’s fun for them, to have a play in water. If I had the energy and time to do it every day I would but more often than not it’s just not possible.

The only other thing that is coming to mind for me is that it does seem strange that he has such a problem with giving her a bath. I wonder why? What is his problem with it exactly? The important thing I think is that if your child gets rashes if she doesn’t bath regularly (my son suffers with sensitive skin so too many baths can have the same effect) then it’s in her best interests to bathe her and he should be putting her first.

Seelix's avatar

First of all, I’m not a parent, but I think it’s pretty silly that he’s that against bathing your daughter.

Okay, historically, people didn’t bathe nearly as often as we do today. Some might say we’re obsessed with cleanliness. That said, there’s a different standard for cleanliness today that should probably be at least loosely observed.

Kids get dirty – it’s a fact. They also don’t have body odour in the same way that adolescents and adults do. However, I do think kids should be bathed (or at least washed) every couple of days or so, depending on how dirty they get. If your daughter is playing outside in the sandbox, for example, she’s gonna get a lot dirtier than if she spends the day indoors. Any parent should be able to recognize that. Parents should also be able to recognize when their kids have skin issues that require more frequent bathing.

If you, as the primary caregiver for your daughter, don’t feel that she’s receiving proper care when she’s with her father, you have every right to request that he give her that care. Asking a father to bathe his child is hardly an outrageous request.

Seaofclouds's avatar

My son is 9 now he gets a shower at least every 2 days at the most, but usually every other day (it was the same way when he was younger). It all depends on how dirty/sweaty he is. He is just starting to really get sweaty more often, so he’ll be switching to more frequent showers soon (probably this summer).

captainsmooth's avatar

I bathe my just turned 6 daughter every other day when I have her (I have half custody). Little kids don’t need to be bathed that often and I think its better for their skin if they don’t get a bath everyday. Her older sister, 10, gets a little stinky, so she showers pretty much everyday when I have them, just doesn’t wash her hair everytime.

Incidentally, their mother, my ex wife, complains to my oldest (and maybe the younger one too) on a regular basis that I don’t bathe them enough and they come to her from school looking messy.

snowberry's avatar

You might discuss this with your pediatrician and ask him to support you in this. So when she comes home from her dad’s and she’s got that rash, ask him to document it for you. And again that she’s clear of a rash before she leaves with her dad…This would be a bit expensive, but documentation is necessary if you intend to enforce this issue, because I would assume the courts could assist you with this.

Coloma's avatar

I always bathed my daughter daily, every night before bed. I think daily bathes are healthy for a wide variety of reasons.

Besides, a warm bath before bed is soothing and the child sleeps better IMO.

Occasionally skipping a day with a wash up is fine, but, really, I don;t understand why it’s such a chore to give your child a daily bath.

AdamF's avatar

As per other posters. We avoid going more than two days without a bath or wash of some nature.

My little girls can get rashes and irritations from going to long without a bath (ie. three days or more), at the same time, they can get dry skin from too much time in baths (ie everyday). So every other day works, with a little targeted wash off if they need it in between.

geeky_mama's avatar

Our kids are 6,7,10 and 13. The older two are girls, the younger two are boys.
When the girls were little they were only bathed every other day – mainly because they were just so…clean. Now they both shower daily.

The boys however…I dono, they play in the woods they make bigger messes..they are less conscientious about washing up their we give them a daily bath. Always have. No problems with dry skin from it—but definitely seems necessary..

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

My kids are 4 and 2. I wash their bodies daily before bed. I wash their bodies + hair twice a week. I wouldn’t be okay with whar your ex is doing either especially if rashes are an issue and I would NOT tolerate this kind of behavior of his, regardless of his upbringing. He would simply not meet the child if he didn’t comply with what I thought were the basics.

Hibernate's avatar

Winter 2 times per week

Spring till autumn every day

blueiiznh's avatar

Times have changed. Your ex may have grown up in a time when a weekly Saturday bath was it.
I am a single Dad and have taken care of the bathtime fun since my daughter was born. When she was 4–5 it was every other day unless required more due to fun outdoor play.
Certainly good hygiene needs to start younge, so the washup prior to bed is key if a bath or shower is not done.
I think Dad’s think that bathing is less important than Mom’s do might also be a contributing factor.
It’s Tubby Time!

linguaphile's avatar

I live in Minnesota and my daughter takes baths every other day from about October through April because her skin gets so dry from daily baths and her skin will break out. Also we keep our house at about 65 in the winter (warm for us… especially when it’s 10 outside) so baths, even with a space heater, can get pretty chilly. I’ve tried different soaps, got rid of ‘bubble baths,’ switched to hypoallergenic, used moisturizing soap but still no change in her skin’s reaction. So, every other day, it is. May through Sept- everyday.
When she visits Florida, big difference- maybe even twice a day some days!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

As kids in the 50’s, a once-a-week bath was considered normal. Only exception is if we were playing in the mud or peed ourselves, which averaged out to about every other day anyway. I love a daily bath, but have to say that it is not good for your skin and hair – dries them out.

MissAusten's avatar

My kids have always been bathed every other day (at most) during winter. Faces and hands are washed as needed, but all three of them are prone to dry skin and eczema during the cold part of the year and frequent bathing just makes it worse. My daughter started showering pretty much daily in the last couple of years (she’s 12 now), but the boys (6 and 7) are still on an every-other-day routine for most of the year.

During the warmer months they have a bath or shower each night to wash off sweat, dirt, sunscreen, bug spray, sand, beach grime, and whatever else they accumulate during a busy summer day!

As for your ex, I’d suggest just being patient with him. Maybe he feels uncomfortable bathing your daughter simply because she’s a girl. Men can react in strange ways to their little daughters, and I don’t mean that it any kind of sick way. When our daughter was born, my husband became unable to enjoy the sight of a woman whose pubic area had been totally shaved because it reminded him of changing diapers.

Or, maybe since you seem to be the primary parent, this is one area your ex is exerting control and he is unwilling to let it go. Maybe you can be patient and compromise in a way that keeps your daughter from getting a rash but lets your ex still feel comfortable or in control. Maybe the pediatrician will have a suggestion that you can pass along to your ex.

Another thing to consider is, you may be able to teach your daughter to give herself a shower. Kids are often able to do a lot more than we give them credit for, and my kids were all about 5 when I started working on having them shower independently. With three kids, not having to help them all bathe is a big deal! At first I helped them until I could see that they were able to do a good job, especially with the shampoo and rinsing. Now only the youngest still always takes a bath but only because he has issues with water getting on his face. Yeah, he’s the weird one.

Good luck!

Dutchess_III's avatar

When you say he has her 4 days a month…is that every other weekend? If so, just make sure she gets her bath before she goes over there, which means she only goes two days, and bath her when she gets back and it becomes a total non-issue.

When my kids were little I bathed them every evening. It was part of the bedtime routine. I think that taking a warm bath, and them feeling clean and toasty warm in their clean jammies helped them to relax for bed.

After they got older I think it went to every other day. I don’t remember! I don’t remember telling them it was time to take a shower or whatever. I think they just did it.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

My girls bathe together every night, right before bed. They are 10 and 5, but still enjoy their bath play time with polly pockets and such. My oldest washes her hair every other night, simply because she gets sweaty and dirty at school during recess and it makes her hair smell. My 5 yr old only washes her hair twice a week, and sometimes only once if it’s the winter time, because she has baby fine, soft, clean hair. She doesn’t sweat enough to make her hair “dirty”.

They usually play in the bath for about 30–45 minutes, and then I lotion them both, with a gentle massage. It helps them unwind before bed, and makes it easier for them to go to sleep.

YARNLADY's avatar

As mentioned above, growing up in the 50’s Sis and I had Saturday Bath Day, but my sons and grandson bathe every day, and the toddlers often twice a day, if they have been playing in the mud.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Mud doesn’t hurt anything. Why wash them the first time only to have to wash them a second time in one day?

YARNLADY's avatar

@Dutchess_III We always shower in the morning, but they seldom play in the mud. I often just hose them off, if it’s warm enough.

Dutchess_III's avatar

My grandkids…if there’s mud, they’re in it! If there is no mud, just dirt and a hose, they make their own! MuddyA (I can’t figure out how to copy just the direct link so there! See my whole account!) They’re mud monsters all summer long!

Seelix's avatar

@Dutchess_III – I love how everything is muddy but his hair. “Not the hair!”

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! I’ll correct that next time!

jca's avatar

My daughter is almost 4. Sometimes she falls asleep on the way home from babysitter and then she is out for the night. Those days, no bath. I try to bathe her at least every other day, maybe in the winter every third day. Summer, especially after going to a fair or doing something dirty, dusty and sticky, every day bath. Hair washing might be once or twice a week in winter, two or three times a week in summer, depending, again, on what she does, how hot it is and how dirty she gets.

casheroo's avatar

My son is almost 4, I bathe him at least 3 times a week…I actually bathe them more often for something to do before bed as part of their routine. If they are dirty they get a bath.

blackks's avatar

Well it’s not my child, but it is my little sister. My mum and I try to bathe her at least every 2 days, but she is so stubborn and will scream if she doesn’t think that she needs one. The best way to get her into the bath, is to have toys for her to play with and let her wash herself (even if it’s not done properly) as long as she gets in the water and uses a bit of body wash, then she will be fine.

iLove's avatar

Thanks for all the great answers! GAs for all of you!

@MissAusten – I think you nailed it regarding control.

And @Dutchess_III – I really try to have her bathed before she visits with him, but I had an off week of preparing for Kindergarten registration, visits to the pediatrician, and late nights of working and my schedule just got thrown off.

We do live in Florida and being near some of the more snotty mothers, I hear they bathe their children every day and I start to question if I am doing it enough!

Supacase's avatar

We average every other day, but sometimes we do it more often if she has been playing hard and sometimes we go three days if she’s exhausted or we have a late night on the scheduled bath night.

If it is just over the weekend, I wouldn’t say much. It isn’t worth causing a fuss in an otherwise amicable relationship with her father. This is about the age where it gets weird for dads and little girls.

Teach her to clean her privates with baby wipes or a washcloth so she can give herself a “spit bath” on Saturday. She should be old enough to manage that reasonably well – basing this on experience with my daughter, that is. It may not be the best wash up she ever gets, but it should be okay for twice a month.

cheebdragon's avatar

Daily. I just put soap in the water, a few toys and hangout at the sink while he does his thing, he plays, scrubs and as long as I can hear him I dont have to do anything but hand him a towel when he’s ready to get out.

Coloma's avatar

I always saw bath time as a bonding experience with my daughter.
We had a ritual of bathing and hair washing and bedtime stories.
Her hair was very long and thick and after bathing and shampooing I would braid it before bed in one long. beautiful braid.

Made mornings much easier, just undo the braid, brush it out and send her off, no fuss, ’ no more tangles’. haha

These are precious times with your child, make the most of them.

I am loving my daughter more than ever as a younf adult at 23, but…I’d give anything for a 5 year old bath time, hair braiding moment again. :-)

Dutchess_III's avatar

@iLove Don’t let snotty mothers bug you. If it’s not the fact that they give baths better than you and everyone else, it’s the fact that they tie their shoes better. It’ll always be something.

cheebdragon's avatar

I don’t understand why he would get angry about giving her baths. Maybe you could suggest that he should just run the bath first thing in the morning and she can play while he gets ready for work? As long as he stays within hearing distance, and she knows not to stand up while she’s in the bath, she should be fine. I use the time to do my makeup and/or curl my hair.

peper1967's avatar

I am single (part time) Daddy. I have our son (5–6 yrs old) 2–3 days at a time , sometime twice a week. We have a routine, if its humid , hot , and we play outside we shower at night before bed to sleep better. Other wise it every morning before school. I grew up with a sister, so I can say that boys do get dirtier than girls for the most part.. Being clean A.) can fun, B.) not O.C.D. about it either. His mother doesn’t bath him, unless I challenge her about, at times she will call” I did bathe him or he did get a shower today” Now she will shower or bathe almost everyday(our son says) . Why not your own flesh and blood? Our son has asked me” Why doesn’t Mommy let me shower ” or :“Give a shower. lke you do Daddy?” I can’t answer that, I say. Don’t know

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