Photo of woman and child in front of bathtub

Kid Baths 101: Tips for Bathing Babies, Toddlers, and Kids.

Last Updated: July 29, 2021

Who knew learning how to bathe a tiny human could be so overwhelming and complicated? Learn how to rock bathing your kids through each age range as they grow.

Bathing your baby is an incredible bonding moment for new parents. You watch in wonder week by week as your itty bitty newborn grows into an energetic, rambunctious toddler. You might start to think, “Do I have to bathe this wild child every single day?”

We've gathered all you need to know about keeping your littles squeaky clean and happy. We've also included where you can cut corners to keep your sanity intact while still having reasonably clean children.

How often should you bathe your child?

Infants (0–12 months)

Even though many parents bathe their newborns daily as part of a bonding routine, there’s no need to bathe them more than 2 times per week for proper hygiene.

Once a week is sufficient if they have dry, sensitive skin.

Between baths, wipe your baby's neck, armpits, genitals, and other areas as needed with a wet cloth.

Toddlers (1–3 years)

Every parent knows that toddlers are active, wild, and messy. Even so, there's nothing wrong with bathing your crazy tot just 2 to 3 times per week. A little dirt never hurt anyone!

Little kids (3–5 years)

For hygiene purposes, pre-schoolers only need a bath 2 to 3 times a week.

However, keep in mind that little kids with extra sensitive skin or issues like eczema shouldn't bathe more than necessary to prevent irritation and dryness.

Big kids (6–9 years)

Your school-aged kiddos only need to bathe 1 to 2 times per week, unless they tend to get particularly dirty or stinky.

If your child loves baths or showers and it works for your family's routine, there's no reason they can't take one daily. However, if your child has sensitive skin, washing daily might unnecessarily irritate their skin.

Tweens (10–12 years)

Not all kids hit puberty at the same age, so how much they need to bathe during the tween years will vary.

Showering 1 to 2 times a week might work for some tweens, but others who are more active or who hit puberty earlier will need to bathe more often.

Teenagers (13+ years)

Teenagers should shower or bathe a minimum of once a day (or more if they exercise and sweat profusely).

For more insight on teaching your teens how to take responsibility for their own health and hygiene, check out this episode of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Healthy Children podcast.

Step by step: How to bathe young babies and kids

Tips for bathing an infant

  • Bathing a newborn with its umbilical cord still attached, as demonstrated in this YouTube video, is very different from how you'll bathe them after it falls off.
  • After the umbilical cord falls off, you can bathe your baby in a baby bath, a regular bathtub, or a shower.
  • Use warm water that’s 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Test it to make sure it isn't too hot before putting your baby in.
  • Wash your hands and then use a soft washcloth to clean your baby, starting with their face, neck, and armpits. Work your way down their body, and wash their genitals and bum last.
  • Use a small amount of soap or a non-soap cleanser to avoid skin irritation. Grove curates products that are the very best on your baby’s gentle skin.
  • Dry, moisturize, and dress your baby on a clean towel on the floor to avoid slipping or falling.
  • Never leave your baby out of arm's reach or let a child supervise, even if the baby is in a bath chair or baby bath. Babies can drown in shallow water in seconds.

Tips for bathing a toddler

  • Teach your child to sit with their back to the faucet. Playing with faucets can lead to falls and scalds.
  • Use warm water between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't put your toddler in the tub while it’s still filling up in case the water temperature changes.
  • Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Most water heaters are set between 140 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit when they come from the factory, which could cause third degree burns in 2 to 5 seconds.
  • Make sure your bathtub is toddler-proofed. Put non-slip mats both inside and outside the tub, place a cushioned cover on the faucet, and remove nearby electrical appliances.
  • Teach your child to sit, not stand, in the tub. Only fill the bathtub waist high or to their belly button.
  • Avoid unnecessary skin irritation by letting your toddler play in clean water first and then adding bath products at the end to wash with.

Tips for bathing pre-school age kids

  • Start teaching your child how to wash themselves but don’t leave them unattended until around age 8.
  • If your child shows interest in the shower, you can start transitioning them to use that instead of the bath. However, they must still be supervised.
  • Water temperature in the shower is harder to gauge and can change suddenly. Setting your hot water tank to a maximum temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit will keep your child safe from scalding.
  • The bath can be a great time for bonding, learning about bodies and hygiene, discussing water safety, and playing.
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How to clean bath toys

Make a vinegar solution with 1/2 cup of white vinegar per gallon of warm water in a clean bucket. Soak the toys in the solution for about 10 minutes, then rub them gently with a clean sponge.

To clean the inside of bath toys, squeeze out any old water, suck up the solution, shake, squeeze out, and then air dry. Using bpa-free and phthalate-free toys and soap will help ensure your child is avoiding all the chemicals too.

Don't forget, playing with clean bath toys in a bacteria or mold laden bathtub kind of defeats the point, so be sure to clean your bathtub regularly too.

When should children start taking their own baths?

Bathtub illustration

Two factors can help you decide when your child is ready to bathe on their own:

  • When they are capable and asking to clean themselves in privacy
  • When they understand water safety and are able to keep themselves safe

Most experts recommend waiting until your child is at least 8 years old, but some children might need to be supervised for longer.

Which bath products are safe to use with babies and kids?

Even though many bath products are marketed for kids, not all are safe to use on sensitive skin. Have a read about which bath items are okay to use with babies and kids.

And check out Grove's 11 best natural and non-toxic bath products for kids as well.

Are bath bombs safe for babies and kids?

Under direct supervision, bath bombs made from non-toxic ingredients are safe to use with small children. However, the bright colors and food-mimicking shapes might tantalize your toddler into trying to eat the bath bomb.

A lick or small taste probably won't harm them, especially if you choose bath bombs with natural ingredients, but ingesting a larger amount could result in sodium poisoning or choking. Bath bombs might also aggravate sensitive skin and eyes, so decide what is best for your child based on their sensitivity.

Are epsom salts safe for babies and kids?

If used properly, epsom salt baths are not only safe, but beneficial for your young child. The benefits of epsom salt include helping with eczema, nerve impulses and regeneration, constipation, and serotonin levels.

Ensure you’re buying high-grade epsom salts—low-grade can be toxic and dangerous. Don't use more than 2 cups maximum in a full bathtub, and make sure the salt is fully dissolved before your child gets in the water.

What are safe bath product ingredients for babies and kids?

Safe ingredients

  • Goat milk and beeswax
  • Lanolin or tallow
  • Naturally calming ingredients like chamomile and oats
  • Natural oils from vegetables, avocados, and coconuts
  • Extracts from calendula, lavender, and other herbs and flowers
  • Shea butter, cocoa butter, or coconut oil
Skull and crossbones illustration

Unsafe ingredients

  • Talc or talcum powder
  • Synthetic fragrances
  • Parabens
  • Tributyl-tin (TBT)
  • Formaldehyde (a carcinogen)
  • Sulfates
  • Quaternium-15
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Methylisothiazolinone
  • Methylcloroisothiazolinone
  • Potassium sorbate
  • Sodium benzoate

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