Bathing Guidelines for 7 and 9 year old girls

Dawn - posted on 03/14/2011 ( 23 moms have responded )

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OK, call me old fashioned, but I believe kids (all kids!) should be bathed at least once a day as a rule, but at LEAST every other day if there is something that throws the schedule off. My 7 and 9 year old stepdaughters (who I have had over half their lives) got here this week for Spring Break and told me that their Mom (who I knew in the past and even as infants only bathed them every other day) only allows them to bathe once a week on Sunday and does not let them soap themselves, etc. At my house they have ALWAYS either had one of us in there, or since they got older, and as their little sister has come along, taken baths or even showers every day and mostly on their own now! HELP! I am absolutely alarmed! While I understand the pressures of what she says is single parenting (as she moved them across the country from their father, and he allowed it so that she had the support of her family) and she will probably blame time, homework, etc. it is a NECESSARY thing for children (especially girls) so as to not have problems with hygiene later. I am having a hard time getting over this! How do I approach it? The girls even went so far as to tell me that she always bathes them the night before I come get them. These are children who have come to me with head lice, and are often sick. As all kids are, I know. I have never heard many negative things about their home except that she was messy when they were married. I also have to say that I have never seen them after that long, but with long hair I notice even one day when I have allowed them to skip, a general oiliness. Any advise would be appreciated! I am worried!

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Sylvia - posted on 03/14/2011

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OK, it's possible that this is something alarming, but it's also possible that your kids' mom just has a different view of hygiene. You are aware of studies indicating that kids who don't get exposure to dirt and germs tend to be more prone to allergies and to get sick more often, right? And you know that kids get head lice from other kids who have head lice, not from failing to wash their hair? And that for many people, bathing too often can lead to dry skin, itching, etc.? That people can have allergies or sensitivities to soaps or to certain ingredients of soaps? And that for many women and girls, a major trigger of vaginal yeast infections is using soap (particularly scented soap) to wash the perineal area?

I agree it's weird to not *allow* kids to bathe if they want to (if that is in fact what is happening). But to me it sounds almost equally weird to insist that little kids bathe "at least" once a day, and especially to insist that a 7-year-old who doesn't bathe every single day is going to "have problems with hygiene later". I don't get it. I didn't bathe every day when I was that age; I started showering daily when I started getting oily skin and hair and needing to wear deodorant. Most girls don't want to smell bad (boys seem to have a slightly different attitude about this ;^).)

I have a daughter just about your kids' age (she's 8 and a half), and she usually showers once a week -- unless she's unusually filthy. (She also has swimming lessons for half an hour every Thursday evening, so I guess technically she's immersed in water twice a week.) There are many reasons for this. First, she just doesn't get that dirty (she bathes more often in summer, because she wears less clothing then and plays in the dirt more), and she isn't yet at the stinky age. Second, she has hair down to her behind, and there is NO WAY I am going to spend 40 minutes blow-drying it and combing out the tangles *every single night*. Plus, if we washed her hair every day it would be dry and staticky and horrible. (I don't wash my hair every day, either, although I do shower every morning. Ask any hairdresser -- daily shampooing is really not good for most women's hair.) It takes at least a week before I notice a bit of oiliness at the roots. Third, there really is no time: DH and I both work full time, and by the time we're all home from work and school and have eaten dinner and done homework and maybe, I dunno, had a conversation or two, it's practically bedtime; I'm not that keen on keeping DD up for an extra hour for the sake of a daily bath. Fourth, it's a waste of water, frankly. When she does get to the point of needing a daily shower, we're going to have a little chat about conserving water by NOT staying in there for half an hour :P, but for now it's just easier to let her have a long shower once a week.

If your kids are at the point of being stinky unless they bathe often, then they need to bathe often. If they like taking a daily bath and there's time for them to have one, then by all means let them do that. It may be that their mom is still doing what worked when they were little, and they're at a new stage now. Or it may be that she's nuts. It's hard for anybody on here to really judge ...

Jacqui - posted on 03/21/2011

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OMG i am shocked at how you are proud to advertise that your kids don't wash daily!!!!!!! My son is 7 and showers daily (ok maybe he misses a day or so if he's tired) but out of 7 days in a week he washes 6! his hair he washes every 3rd day (no need to wash is any more often) unless its summer - Maltese summers are HOT HOT HOT and he like everybody else sweats so then its daily but we would then always use conditioner. It is part of his routine, the last thing he does before going to bed. He prefers showers to baths as do I and he doesn't waste water as he is not filthy to have to stay in there to wash it off. oh and this business of drying out your skin if you wash daily ----- please don't give me this rubbish. Use a good body lotion or cream to replace it if your really think this the case. I think you are all just making excuses - and bad ones at that. The younger they are the more important it is. When my son was learning how to wipe his bottom after number 2, he woud never do it but rather than me going in and 'cleaning it' which you can't do when he is at school, he woul jump in the shower to wash it clean. now he is the proud little boy who knows how to clean him bum and not leave trace.... but he still cleans his bum. We teach our kids to wash their hands after going toilet and before eating, we teach them to wash their teeth 2x daily (preferably) but min 1x day so why not teach them to keep their bodies clean??? I do not suffer with OCD but I do insist on having a clean body and I insist the same for my son.

Amy - posted on 03/16/2011

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There is no real reason even for being a girl to bathe every day unless they are playing outside every day.I have a girl and 3 boys and they take showeres every other day and wash their hair a couple times a wk.Daughters hair goes into one or 2 braids at night so it stays untangled and she is 12.Their natural oils from their hair is actually very good for their hair and much better than washing it every day.

Lice LOVE clean hair,they have something to grab on to while dirty hair is slippery.

It seems there is a little ocd there.You need to relax a bit.The only time my kids take showers every day is in the spring and summer since they are always outside playing and getting dirty and dusty.My friends daughters get their hair washed once a wk and a bath2x a wk and their both girls....it is all they need.They brush their teeth,hair is brushed and they have clean clothes!!! and clean hands and face!!!

Dawn - posted on 03/23/2011

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And I want to make sure that I apologize, wholeheartedly, if I offended anyone. I NEVER said that every other day or even two times a week was a disaster! Once a week is not enough. Even the pediatrician agreed. I will refrain from my opinion on what adults should be doing, as we have activities in our lives that the children do not. I would get slaughtered on here for my thoughts.

Back to the kids....I think everyone has a right to take care of their children how they please, but my distress was not only from my alarm over the revelation, but the childrens true desire and excitement at being "allowed". And frankly, I was alarmed by a 9 year old not being allowed to wash her own body. I am very respectful of their mother, but she has some strange ideas about some things and they are normally the things we go around about. She and I can scream at the top of our lungs at each other the night before the kid exchange and hug in the airport and apologize the very next morning. We have both learned to make compromises, but this is one that isn't going to go her way if we can help it. It just isn't healthy for more reasons than the cleanliness. The difference in self pride, sleep and motivation is enough for me! And we live in Texas, Mom lives in Arizona. Hotter...by all accounts.

Kalpana - posted on 03/20/2011

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I am shocked! Everyone I know, infants, toddlers, adults, whoever, have to have showers twice a DAY! probably because we live in the tropical and it is hot and sweltering every day of the year. Sweat is enough to make you want to shower every few hours if possible. bathing once in 2 days is just weird for me. again like i said, it has to do with the climate.

Even when i was in europe for 4 months, i showered twice a day.

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Lulu - posted on 06/19/2012

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Im sorry, but my baby is 4 and she showers every morning and this doesn't mean she washes her hair every morning because that is done once a week. I think kids should take a shower everyday or maybe every other day but once a week that is just plane nasty.

Casey - posted on 02/02/2012

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My daughter bathes everyday, whether it is shower or bath, but we wash her hair only on a friday as to deter nits (she has beautiful wavy/curly/straight/ (not kidding) hair, and I usually have it in two french braids as another deterrent. She does skip one every now and then, but all in all she is an active kid at school all day, Even if she was stationery all day she would still get dirty. And I agree with washing everyday just for the sake of making sure her bottom and genitalia re clean from going to the loo. I use Ecostore soaps and shampoos, and these are less drying. There is nothing terribly wrong with only bathing them every other day, but I know how I feel when I miss a shower, I can't wait to clean the day away. Unless there are skin allergies, or medical reasons, I think instilling cleanliness at a young age will help to avoid smelly pubescents!! I also think in Dawns case, she has to deal with the outcome for the girls who are reaching an age to become embarrassed by it

Denise - posted on 01/29/2012

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Whatever season, I know when my girls are dirty, and that's when they shower with my supervision. I let my 9 year old shower herself, but I could tell she didn't do a good enough job, so I made her take another shower, after company left, and I made sure she did it right. I washed and conditioned her hair. I still fully participate in her 5 year old sister's baths and showers. Generally, in Fall, Winter, and Spring we do every other day. When it gets hot, and they get dirty and sweaty, it's every day. And, I hate to tell my husband, going swimming is not a substitute. I give them a shower after swimming as well, if nothing else to wash off the chlorine. Once a week is not enough, in my opinion.



@ Dawn-I would think that if they're showering only before you pick them up, would she not have them shower at all if you weren't going to pick them up? A scary thought. Body cleanliness is more important than hair-sometimes they vary(the hair is clean, and the body not). I have fine hair, and sometimes wear a shower cap and wash my body and not wash my hair until later in the day or the next morning. But that's me, and I can smell myself and evaluate my cleanliness better than anyone. I can't say that for kids. It's up to you what's right for the kids when they're with you. If you have no definite proof of how their mother is caring for them, then it's hard to deal with.



Is there any way to contact their school nurse? She would see the girls when they are away from you. My daughter had a friend who had an cleanliness issue(hair was always greasy, etc.) and the nurse was the one who dealt with the parents concerning it.



Best of luck!

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My girls have very dry skin and their Dr. has told me to wash them every other day unless they get especially dirty and sweaty. Showering everyday washes away the natural oils that help keep the skin moisturized. The days I give them showers I am supposed to rub them down with baby oil before I dry them off. If their hair seems oily I put some baby powder on the brush before I brush their hair and it helps. Now in saying this my kids have never had any health problems being washed every other day .

Jakki - posted on 03/23/2011

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Woah... I think we should preface our comments by saying where we live! It's obviously a totally different situation if you live in the freezing mountains vs the tropics - we can't tell each other what's wrong or right without knowing each others' climates!

Here in Australia people are obsessed about washing, and any kind of odour is a disaster. My rule with my primary school aged kids is: daily wash in summer, every second day in winter.

But even if we lived in Siberia, I think a weekly wash sounds... yuk!

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I quit reading respones after a while, so sorry...

My 9 year old twin girls shower every day... except on super rare occasion. They NEED it or they stink. They've also been using deodorant for the past several months.... or they stink.

I am a single mom of 3 and we all have time for a bath or shower every day. Even on Monday's when we don't even get home til 6. Somehow all 4 of us manage to eat and shower in about an hour and a half... or less. I also haven't helped my girls wash themselves in over 3 years....

If there is no medical reason they can't bathe daily and they are, in fact, begging for a shower/bath and being refused...... that is neglectful and just sad. :(

Jacqui - posted on 03/22/2011

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Hang on there I am not saying that to wash every other day is wrong what I said was that to boast that your kids wash once a week is not the best thing to do or teach. It doesn't have to be hot to need to wash more than once weekly. Like you I am not trying to offend but stating my thoughts. We have a shower daily and yes there may be a few times we skip a day but on the 2nd day he has a wash and asks to have it. I also understand that not all kids like to get wet but still after a week whatever the age --- you smell if not washed.

Ange - posted on 03/22/2011

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for you to say that every one who washes their children every other day is wrong of us to do…. you have no right to say…. It is not up to tell people how to shower their children it all depends on their situations right... Just look at your situation where your children are not get full showers in one shot all the time then ya by all means every day is perfect…. but MY children have that chance of getting full showers anytime they want to (and by the way NOT every child wants a shower or will shower willing NO MATTER how much you make them) in one sitting so there for they do not need to shower every stinking day as the weather here is not extremely HOT so they are not sweating to get the odor.... SO there fore do not need the shower every freak day that does not mean that my child doesn't know how to shower at all she knows how too..... OR that she stinks on the days that she doesn’t shower….
I am sorry if you feel attacked and that the other people here getting attacked but you asked for an opinion on this subject what did you expect to get from? NO one is perfect and we all work our house holds the way we do that and it is completely unfair of people like you and Jacqui to judge people on how they work and do things…. Sorry about this I am not attacking ANYONE but simply pointing out that there is no perfect way to do things and every one does things differently and that doesn’t mean you have to like it and it doesn’t mean you have to deal with it

Jacqui - posted on 03/22/2011

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hear hear. Finally somebody who thinks like myself! I am still shocked that there are so many that think that by just getting wet is enough to say they are clean. Like I said and I stand by it, it is, has and always will be part of our routine. He eats, washes (with soap) in a warm shower (or cold in summer) and then goes to bed smelling all fresh. The bed sheets have a lovely smell to them as he is always clean getting into bed - then changed 1xweek.

I agree each to their own but to say that I am accusing you - of anybody is wrong. I am simply putting my 2 pennies worth of an opinion that 1xweek washing for any child is crazy and in my opinion wrong. It has nothing to do woth the fact that I live in Malta and its hot. My sister lives in UK and its not always hot but her boys (7 &3) have a bath/shower daily before going to bed - its called good hygiene. My son is 7 and has been washing himself for the past 6mths without my checking him (the first 6mths I would go over bits he missed) so really he's been washing himself since he was 6. It's just me and him and it was time for me to let him grow just that little bit more independent. and its brilliant. I do not have any fuss when it comes time to go to bed as the routine has been set from a baby. He would have a bath, bottle and then bed.

When he grows into a man - he will be set on automatic pilot to be clean and be proud of it! I am not ashamed that I get him (and myself) to wash daily - I think thats how it should be.

Dawn - posted on 03/22/2011

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And to add one more thing....do you see all of these postings about not being able to get their 12 year olds to shower, etc.? I wonder what was expected of them as smaller children. Maybe not every day...but come on people...we all know to move away from the stinky kid! And as for which soap to use, I do not care if they ever get soap in some areas....really...the fact that they are a) trying and b) in water, helps tremendously with the whole issue. They are ready for bed and a good nights sleep at the end of it!

Dawn - posted on 03/22/2011

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I slept on this one after reading some of your replies. And some of the attacks on me for saying I want my kids clean. Let me start by saying I NEVER said that every day has to be a priority! I think that kids are happier, sleep better, concentrate better, and have a general sense of well being when they are cleaned and well cared for. The same way that I think eating at Taco Bell or McDonalds every night for dinner does not benefit them, I feel that learning to respect and take care of their bodies does! As for the OCD comment...that would take a doctor to diagnose, and in 40 years, that hasn't happened. Too bad laziness isn't a diagnosis. Some people, and I am NOT attacking any of you or anyone who feels deep down that they are doing the best things for their children for NOT bathing them more, but I am talking about those parents who do not because they do not have "time". REALLY????

I agree with Jacqui! I am frankly.... suprised could be the word...at how few people responded to the post that regularly bathes their kids, and how many people on here that do not jumped in and defended their choices.

In addition, I also posted that the childrens mother and I had a talk about it and the children were not lying to me. She seemed embarrassed, and I know this woman well, and yes, we are very good friends (we have both been in the same shoes...lol). I handled it well with her and I know that my husband will point it out to her again when the right moment comes. She did not even realize our oldest was capable of bathing herself. To suggest that our kids are playing us over this matter, when they did not even know of our alarm at it, is simply silly.

The point of my original post is this....they are not 2 and 3 anymore. Kids this age are starting into early puberty (both families have women that started their periods at an early age) and we are already seeing signs in the oldest. The complaints from their mother that they are grouchy, disrepectful (I agree), etc. are truly minimized by routine in our house. I am not strict with the time, just the action. It is a tangible part of the routine. To give you a little insight, my husband is a country music singer, and we travel all over the place. We live several days at a time in a tour bus. Do we get to do full showers more than once a day? No. But the kids ALWAYS ask to go into the bathroom for some time with a bar of soap and a rag and get wiped down. We can not afford to be too OCD about it with our schedule. But we DO have clean, presentable children.

I'm sorry, but i have to say this. I know many adults who do not and SHOULD take more time with their hygiene. We all do. I am not saying it is any of you, as I do not know you, but my children are learning now for the future. That is why I think it is so important. They can make their own choices in their own adult lives. Once a week, not enough. And these children are EXCITED to get to Dad's to be allowed to shower when they want! Think about that one!

And Sylvia, who in their right mind EVER suggested your last posting about not washing hands and preparing food? This is about odor (vaginal and body) and making sure kids are TAUGHT how to do it. It is also about them not being 9 and having their Mommy's wash them. They have to be taught and 9 is too old for Mommy to be washing certain parts. THEY HAVE TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE in this life and one thing that is easy to use as that lesson, is their own bodies.

Katie - posted on 03/22/2011

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As a part of my kids bedtime routines the both bath in the evenings, but they dont wash with soap or wash their hair. But they get wet and have fun really. My eldest has a body and hair wash in the shower in the morning every day before school (ON HIS OWN. Hes five) and my youngest has a hair and body wash once a week with shampoo and soap, but does have his bath every night. I can see why she gives the girls a bath before you collect them as she prob doesnt want you to think that maybe she is struggling? Nits are a common problem and although my son is squeaky clean he has brought home nits from school! Some people do have greasy hair. If i dont wash my hair every day it does get greasy so i tend to wash it with anti greasy shampoo! Hope this helps

Sylvia - posted on 03/21/2011

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@Jacqui -- I'm guessing you've never lived in a very cold or a very dry climate? Trust me, there are times when lotion and conditioner just isn't going to cut it. (Plus, it's a lot easier and more cost-effective to let your body's natural oils take care of themselves than to constantly strip them off and then try to replace them artificially. Of course one needs to be clean, but there are limits.)

We teach our kids to wash after using the toilet because you can actually get sick from ingesting fecal matter. I think it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that not showering every single day is just as unsanitary as eating or preparing food right after using the toilet and not washing your hands :P

Ange - posted on 03/21/2011

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Well Jacqui not everyone live in a HOT HOT HOT place where I live we have fall, winter, spring, summer, so in the winter, fall, and spring seasons we do not NEED the obsessive bathing every day here in the summer time depending on how HOT it is then we will shower every day.... Everybody has different progatives on how many times to shower you have absolutely no right to put people down for the way they shower themselfs and there kids..... and for some you can use as much body lotion and conditioner for those everyday showers but sometimes that just don't work for everyone....

Ange - posted on 03/17/2011

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I also believe in every other day bathing cause you do not want to over wash your body it dries out and what not... my step daughter is 7 years old and will tell me the same things but that is only because she doesn't want to have a shower at that time or she doesn't feel like having a shower she rather be doing something else so you might going through that right now maybe she is showering at the other place more then she is letting on to you this is something that you need to discuss with the other parent and not just the child... my daughters real mom and I have become friends over the years here simply for the child and so we can discuss situations like these the child will pull stunts against each parent I see this all the time in schools and now my daughter is starting to learn this and is trying it alittle bit too there is always more to a story then you would think of do not get me wrong here I am not saying your daughter is a lyer but maybe she is stretching the truth a bit to get her own way or something

Jenn - posted on 03/17/2011

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Children get sick because they don't wash their hands with soap for 2 minutes, after every bathroom use and before eating. As for girls, they do not need to bathe daily unless they are not cleaning themselves properly after bathroom use. Girls also shouldn't clean with soap. It can cause UTI's very easily. There are non-soap cleaners for children available. They also don't need to wash their hair (no one does!) other than twice a week. Natural oils in the hair keep it healthy and protected.

If the kids stink then of course they need a bath! All you can do is help them when they are in your care. Praise them when they smell good and be sure they are lotioned up well because water can be very drying. Build their self confidence with encouragement but don't harp on them about their hygiene.

Eventually they will be able to decide for themselves if they want to be clean or unclean. Also, kids of divorced parents tend to play the parents against each other. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the mother speaks some truth and the children are fudging a bit on what their mother makes them do or not do.

7 and 9 year olds aren't babies. They look for guidance and a role model. You can do that for them, leaving their mother out of the conversation altogether.

Dawn - posted on 03/16/2011

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I just do not agree that they do not get dirty, even if they are not very active. Toilet paper alone leaves a mess that needs to be cleaned every day. Not to mention the fact that kids this age frankly do not wipe well enough. I DID ask their mother this week. It has been driving me nuts. She immediatly said she lets them 2 or 3 times a week and what did they tell me? just Sunday? I knew then she was not being completely truthful. Do not get me wrong....she is a good Mom. I like her and respect her on some, but not all, of her parenting, but we are able to work through most issues. This alarmed me and it makes me wonder what things we do not know. My husband was shocked! I have traveled all over the world and get the different hygiene practices but this is not a case of her beliefs. It is a case of laziness and not wanting to handle it. These kids say they beg sometimes. It is a case of her control that she has to have over EVERYTHING. This question wasn't meant as an attack on her. It was an alarming situation and it is simply not healthy. No matter what anyone says. I called our pediatrician and asked for guidelines and they said at least 3 times a week. As for the previous poster commenting on the future of their hygiene, yes, things they learn are exceptable now, are not later when they start into womanhood. I think most people are accountable for their cleanliness, but others are laxed. I have a sister who, dispite the way we were brought up, has very poor hygiene. It is plain gross. And it has never been a secret. She just didn't care. She stinks most of the time. Do we love her less, no....do we think she is lazy, yes.

I just want clean, healthy kids. Let's hope my asking her about it in a non-judgemental way, helped the situation.

Brenda - posted on 03/15/2011

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I know what you are talking about.My step daughter is the same way. She is now 16 and the word that comes to mind is NASTY I have my daughter who is 11 take a shower every day in the pm and my son who is 8 takes one every day in the AM. We only get my step daughter every other weekend and for 1/2 the summer, when she gets here on Friday I remind her to take a shower. She tells me she did at her moms and that she doesn't need one
(but the hair looks NASTY).So come Saturday I tell her to take a shower and she forgets!! Then here comes Sunday and she smells. This is when I force her to shower because we have church. The really bad part is she does not use soap to wash her body,she will however use shampoo to wash her hair. I don't know what to do either..I just don't what this to rub off on my kids.

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