How often do YOU wash your child?

How often do YOU wash your child?

July 28, 2021

How often should you give your kids a bath? Experts reveal why twice a WEEK is fine after Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis reveal they only wash their children when they can ‘see dirt’

  • Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher only bathe their children when they ‘see dirt’ 
  • Comments raised eyebrows – but parenting experts say it’s the right approach
  • The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends bathing children aged six to 11 at least once or twice a week, or if they are dirty

Hollywood power couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher sparked debate when they revealed they only wash their children when they can ‘see dirt’ – but experts say they’re relaxed approach to personal hygiene is perfectly acceptable.

Angela Spencer, a UK-based pregnancy, birth and parenting expert with over 20 years’ experience, told FEMAIL that while there are stricter rules on when and how babies and toddlers should be bathed, it matters far less once children reach primary school age.

She suggested parents should bathe their children a minimum of twice a week, although ‘common sense’ should prevail.  

‘If they’ve had a busy day, got dirty and in need of a bath, then have a bath,’ she said. ‘However, if you’ve had a lazy day, no one is really that dirty I reverted back to the “top and tail” scenario. That includes brushing teeth and hair.’ 

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) offers similar advice and states children aged between six and 11 only need to be bathed a minimum of ‘once or twice’ a week, although washing them more won’t do them any harm. 

Angela warned there are also dangers of ‘over-bathing’ children, particularly when they are young, as their sensitive skin can dry out with water and have strong reactions to products.  

Candid: Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis admitted they only give daughter Wyatt, six, and son Dimitri, four, a scrub when they look physically grubby; the family are pictured in 2017

Speaking on the Armchair Expert podcast, Ashton, 43, and Mila, 37, insisted there is ‘no point’ on putting daughter Wyatt, six, and son Dimitri, four, in the bath unless they need to.

Mila, who was born in Ukraine, explained: ‘I didn’t have hot water growing up as a child, so I didn’t shower much anyway… But when I had children, I also didn’t wash them every day. I wasn’t that parent that bathed my newborns – ever.’

Ashton added: ‘Now, here’s the thing: If you can see the dirt on them, clean them. Otherwise, there’s no point.’

The comments have sparked a debate online, with social media users split over how often children should be put in the tub.  

One mother tweeted: ‘I’m with them on this. Bathing two little kids everyday is a lot of work. Plus it can really dry out their skin. If they spend the day outside in the dirt then they need a bath, crunchy hair bath (sometimes). Pools Also count.’ 

A second agreed: ‘You don’t need to do everyday unless they’re playing outside in dirt/mud or swimming in lakes/ponds or doing sports. I was in charge of baths when I lived w my younger siblings and they had them every other day maybe every two days unless I saw they were dirty.’ 

The comments have sparked a debate online, with social media users split over how often children should be put in the tub. Some said it was disgusting not to watch children every day

But other parents were horrified by the suggesting, with one saying: ‘I bathed four kids every day. Every. Day. I worked and didn’t have money like they do to hire help. A lot of work, wtf!? That’s your job as a parent to keep your children clean.’ 

Another hospital worker insisted: ‘The “I don’t bathe my kids unless there’s dirt” crowd are the ones who are constantly at the doctor’s office/ER because their kids have skin infections, ringworms, lice, bad coughs etc.

‘As a hospital worker, we can tell who bathes their kids and who doesn’t.’

The risks of washing TOO frequently 

Angela explained there are dangers of ‘over-bathing’ children, saying: ‘Our skin and hair is actually not made to be stripped of its natural oils and protection every day by over zealous hygiene routines. 

‘Of course things like washing your hands if you use the toilet are a must and making sure you have a clean face before laying on a pillow is too, but one of the reasons we can develop allergies and actually be ill from bugs is because we have not let our natural immunity inside and out take hold and be strong.’

Angela said it is particularly important for children to strengthen the immune system in the coming months after more than a year of pandemic disruption. 

She continued: ‘Children have been isolated for very long periods of time, from going outside much and also from each other. 

‘Many have also had to sit in front of a screen for hours a day which we knew before the pandemic is not good for their health or wellbeing. 

‘Then suddenly they’re thrust back in to interacting with each other and of course with germs, bacteria and other viruses. This is resulting in many children not having strong immune systems and becoming very ill with high fevers and persistent illness.

‘It’s important to make sure your children get plenty of vitamin D (naturally outside where possible, take a good multi vitamin and don’t forget that “a bit of dirt doesn’t hurt” or in my opinion, is a must! 

‘Just be sensible and use common sense when it comes to hygiene.’

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) recommends bathing children aged six to 11 at least once or twice a week, depending on their activity level.

The organisation explains children in this age group should also be bathed when they get dirty through play or sport, have spent time in a pool, lake, ocean, or other body of water, or have worked up a sweat or have body odour.

Once puberty starts, children should be take daily baths or showers and also wash their face twice a day to remove oil and dirt. 

The rules surrounding babies and toddlers are slightly different, explained Angela. 

‘When a baby is born it’s actually important not to bath them straight away unless absolutely necessary as their skin is covered by a protective substance called vernix which is beneficial to be absorbed in to the skin,’ she said.

‘After those first few days, a bath once a week should be plenty for a new baby, after all they’re not exactly getting up to much to get dirty. As they grow a “top and tail”, as my own mum used to call it. every night to make sure their hands, face and nappy area are nice and clean is okay in between those weekly bath times. 

‘Once children become mobile though it’s a whole new ball game as they explore, get messy and you want to establish a good bedtime routine. 

‘Whilst having a nightly bath time before bed to help wind down from a day of fun can very much help to create a better sleep environment, I would steer clear from harsh chemicals and bubble bath every night as it’s not good for the skin – but a little water play is guaranteed to relax a child.’

When children reach school age, a bit of flexibility is perfectly acceptable.

‘However, there has to be clear common sense between it’s ok to “top and tail” for a night or two to neglecting your children’s hygiene,’ Angela continued. 

‘Consistent matted and unbrushed hair, consistent grime in fingernails and toenails, a child who always has a smell about them are all signs of neglect. 

‘If you are a parent who loves to let your children be “free” in nature then set a weekly or even bi-weekly ‘no excuses bath time’ and make sure they top and tail in between as you really don’t want your child to have to go through unpleasant illness because they’ve picked up worms from not washing their hands after using the toilet or accidentally come in to contact with animal faeces, or a nasty stomach bug.

‘We want children to build their immune systems but still have to be aware of their health and wellbeing.’

Dr Jennifer Crawley, a dermatologist and consultant for Childs Farm sensitive skin products, added regular baths are important because they help remove invisible irritants – but said there is no hard and fast rule on how often children should be bathed. 

She said: ‘For children aged four and above, it is completely fine to bathe them everyday as long as there is something super hydrating in the water. It is also essential that as soon as they are out of the bath that you use a moisturiser to replenish the skin barrier, to lock in the moisture and keep the skin hydrated.

‘There’s nothing wrong with bathing your children less frequently. However, it is a great way to bond with your child, help them with their development and have some playtime. 

‘Regular bathing can also get rid of irritants that can linger on the skin that may not be visible to the naked eye. It also encourages regular moisturising, which helps to replenish and build the skin barrier.’ 

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