Are You Bathing Your Baby More Than You Should?

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Image via Flickr/ valentinapowers

I love being clean just as much as the next guy, which is why I'm on the verge of death (and bringing death about to others) because I have not showered since last Saturday. 

No, I'm not a recluse that just writes and writes and writes and neglects food and basic hygiene. I am actually living in China without any Chinese-language skills whatsoever, so when you lose access to running water in your apartment (which I did last Friday) and you have no way of telling anyone to fix it, things get a little … pungent.

Bathing once in five days is, I'll admit, pretty gross for a full-grown male, but for a baby? It actually might be the best way to go.

Eric Simpson, who is an associate professor of dermatology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, said this about bathing babies: “People are bathing their babies too much.” 

Wait, they're bathing them too much?

Apparently so. 

{ MORE: Doris Day’s Top Tips for Beautiful Skin }

In an article published by The Wall Street Journal, researchers said that you should probably just be bathing your baby two to three times a week. (Which, at this point, is something that I would consider a blessing.) And why is it that you should only be bathing your little one about every other day? Well, as Dr. Simpson put it, “If you expose skin to water and let it air dry, that leads to dryness — like the bottom of a river bed that cracks open when it dries.”

This dried and cracked skin is called eczema. Typically, the dry and cracked skin will find itself on the scalps and faces of babies “and in the crooks of elbows and backs of knees in older children.”

For a while, people were convinced that eczema was a skin condition related to allergies. But nowadays, doctors have attributed most issues with the condition to the use of the wrong kinds of moisturizers and way-too-frequent baths. 

But babies that come right out of the bath smell so nice and soft! (Yes, baby softness is a smell.) They do, they do, but you've got to keep baby's skin in mind. And in order to do that, researchers have given this list of things to keep in mind when caring for baby's skin:

  • Keep the baths to (at most) three times a week
  • Lather your freshly bathed baby in fragrance-free moisturizer that is a little on the oilier/thicker side
  • Use non-soap cleansers to wash your baby
  • Avoid cleansers that have added fragrances

If we want to keep our baby's soft skin as soft as their bum, we need to be really careful with how we take care of it. 

{ MORE: How To Handle Cradle Cap In a Toddler }

So tell us — how often do you bathe your baby? Has he or she had any skin issues? 

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What do you think?

Are You Bathing Your Baby More Than You Should?

Jace Whatcott is a self-diagnosed introvert who loves crossword puzzles, golf, and reading. Despite being a male contributor—one of the few on this particular website—he is not in unfamiliar territory. Because he is an English major, 90% of his classmates are females, so he’s not too worried about being a fish out of water. One of his favorite things to do is to raid local thrift stores for used books. He’s always looking for something to read, or for something to put on his endless to-r ... More

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15 comments

  1. Pamela says:

    We only bathe 2-3 times a week ( usually closer to 2 times a week,) and that has always been the case. There is so much that goes into the bathing process and the rewards reaped from it, but like anything good, when done in excess it can actually be harmful.
    It was so wonderful to finally read an article supporting this theory.
    My 18 month old has never had a cold or any kind of virus/illness in her tiny life (knock on wood,) and is one of the healthiest patients her peditrician has ever had.
    Thank you for the article!

  2. Kenny says:

    Nice to know this. I bathe my baby every day, and sometimes twice daily with Burt Bees and moisturize with Shea butter and coconut oil; the same and oh yes, her face is filled with eczema which I have beeen managing by washing her face every night and moisturizing with coconut oil. q

  3. Carla says:

    I bathe my daughter every night. When she was a newbie we did 2x a week but as she has gotten older we do her nightly bedtime bathe. She only stays in the tub for about 10 minutes and we lotion her up right after. I wrap her in a towel and either air dry or lightly pat her dry.

  4. michelle says:

    I bathed my son everyday from the time he was born until he was two. I used Johnson and Johnson shampoos, soaps, bed time bath and lotions. I would lotion him after everyone of his baths and I was mortified when those red itchy irritated spots showed up around his second birthday. His doctor confirmed it was eczema. It changed our daily baths to everyother day and the products we used to gental cleansers and coconut oil for lotion. The change in his skin has been dramatically better. I havent seen those irritated patches in 9 months now and his skin is very soft. He still gets spot cleaned in between his baths, but if it means not having to see those spots on his skin, I am all for every other day baths.

  5. ann says:

    I’ve two children who i bathed daily. Nothing wrong with them like described, all you have to do is moisturize them well after each bath. I also clean them at nights with a wet rag, not wipes, and moisturize as well. My secret is olive oil as moisturizer, beats any lotion. I will do the same with my third due Jan 5

  6. Pooy says:

    I used to bathe my son daily, (and sometimes twice daily). I’ve been paying the price for five years. It has completely ruined his skin. He always has some kind of itchy rash, and I have to keep applying cortisone-based ointments, which is so bad, especially for a kid with such fair and extremely sensitive skin. Things are definitely going to be different with my second on the way. I’m sure he’s going to share the same sensitive skin as his brother, and I don’t want to have to go trough the same path. All in all, i guess it also has to do with the type of skin a baby has; the lighter, the more sensitive.

  7. kim says:

    I have given my daughter a daily bath her entire life with scented soap and lotion. Never had a bit of skin problems.

  8. Paula says:

    all that is just weird to me
    I am from Brazil and I really feel that people here in America don’t like baths lol
    My baby has bath everyday, smells “delicious” and her skin looks great and soft, the only part that I stopped to wash daily is her hair because she has curly hair, like daddy, if was like mine we will be washing everyday
    She loves baths and I think everybody feels better and sleeps better after baths…

  9. Dalya says:

    The National Eczema Association recommends babies with eczema have daily baths without soap cleansers and moisturizer soon after a bath. Soap is very drying and an irritant to eczema prone skin and not the best for sensitive baby skin. Dry skin is not the only definition of eczema. There are so many inaccuracies in this article and it’s misinforming to parents who have children who actually suffer from eczema. Please visit their website for advice on eczema and ways to treat it.

  10. Johanna says:

    I tried bathing every other day and his scalp immediately resumed the cradle cap he’d had a vicious case of when he was a few months old.

  11. arleen says:

    Great info, as long as we wipe face, hands,neck, and diaper area in between of course!

  12. Courtney says:

    Every few days and when needed for my little boy. He needs his face done more cause he likes to play in his food.

  13. Marisa says:

    I try to bathe my baby every day! Her skin is rather oily and she spits up! When she was newborn we did every other day until all her skin was done peeling. If she’s with daddy for the day sometimes she gets to skip ;)!

  14. verochka31 says:

    i do two full baths and sponge baths daily especially the beautiful creases to keep the baby feeling clean and fresh

  15. Rosa says:

    I only bathe my daughter once a week and wash her neck, face and butt a few days after…I use warm water to wipe her face and neck daily to get any dribbled breast milk off of her…

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