Bathing your children – when do you stop?

A flurry of Twitter activity this morning has led to this impromptu post – A Dad had contacted OnlyDads to say that he had received an inflammatory letter from his wife’s solicitor (they are getting divorced) accusing him of bathing with his three year old daughter. As he told me on the phone – “I do that sometimes – what is wrong with that?”

So the question is, at what age do you stop bathing your children?

Facts – I was still jumping into the bath on occasions with my two daughters up until they were three maybe four.

My 11 y/o now bathes alone – but is still frequently asking me to wash her hair, and/or wrap her up in a towel afterwards. I do so. Without fear and without hesitation. I imagine at the first signs of puberty those requests will stop. But until then I will carry on… 

…For the last two years my 14 y/o has turned the bathroom into Fort Knox. I imagine barricades and all sorts being pushed against the door to stop me or her sister accidently disturbing her ablutions. This request for privacy is, of course, respected.
The views expressed on Twitter this morning were a mixed bag (as always). I can’t help but feel the “rules” might be different for Mums than Dads. It will be interesting to find out…what do you think is an appropriate age to stop bathing your children?

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About onlydads

Single Dad living near Totnes in Devon. I founded www.onlydads.org in 2007 and live with my daughters Priya, 14 and Anya 11. I write about single parenting, work, overcoming trials and tribulations and sometimes not overcoming trials and tribulations.
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14 Responses to Bathing your children – when do you stop?

  1. Interesting debate to be had there. My girlfreind was still bathing with her 11 year old son and I have to confess it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Like Bob, my 13 year old will not me anywhere near her when she is dressing and when she goes into the bathroom she lets the whole house know! I do remember her father bringing her home from their Sunday swim saying he was begining to feel uncomfortable about taking her into the mens changing room, she was six. Nowadays most pools have family changing rooms but an interesting question. For what it’s worth, in my opinion, when children are little bathtime is a special time at the end of the day to be enjoyed by either parents regardless of sex.

  2. Having a bath with a three year-old boy is about as relaxing as going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. And to be avoided at all costs. My three (girl, 9; two boys, 6 and 3) still enjoy having a bath together. They have zero self-consciousness about it. But the very idea of climbing in with one or all of them is about as appealing as being waterboarded by Special Forces.

  3. When it starts feeling uncomfortable, or you feel you need to ask if your child is too old to bathe. If it feels awkward for you, your child will pick up on it and have questions of their own. They might not understand what is going on or what changed. This is the time they frequently blame themselves. I suggest talking with your child about privacy and how you want to empower them to bathe themselves. Stay close by for those just in cases. But give them the brush and washcloth, if they still smell after a day or so. Guess they still need some help, or a hose 🙂

  4. I bathe my baby once or twice per week. If I do it more often, she gets dry skin or a rash. So, all babies are different. I wipe her face and neck with a washcloth at least a couple of times per day and I use a washcloth to wipe up the diaper area after she has a soiled diaper.
    posted 11/02/2007 by themysciran

    • mamayamoto says:

      Oh No! If the baby s skin is dry then change yhe soap to something much milder. When they have a bowel mvmt pls wipe then rince with water then apply some vaseline. They will have a grin on their face saying thank you.

  5. Janice says:

    all this bullcrap over nakedness is really boring. Boys need to be with men to become good men and then raise good boys to become good men. I shower with all 8 of my sons and they are all normal, well adjusted STRAIGHT guys with no dick hangups. When boys are so sheltered that they keep theor body in a cocoon they have phobias about being exposed. This is a female induced pile of nonsense. Woemn shoudl stay out of raising boys, and stick to what they know best, rasing girls. Leave the men to raise the boys so they become MEN not metrosexual little wimps.

  6. RyanReed says:

    I think it is up to your Child to tell you when they feel old enough to be able to bathe themselves properly. Until then, i can’t see a problem personally. My Sons 14 now, (i always Bathed or Showered with Him up to age 12) ok it’s rare now obviously, but sometimes we will share a Shower. It’s mainly due to Him wanting to make sure everything is developing properly, so He will check Himself out against myself. He will come in when i’m Showering, sit there watching me and talking to me. I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t want Him growing up ashamed of Himself, or having any Body and/or Sexual Hang-up’s. No wonder some Kids are so messed up. I read a case where a Wife was actually going to divorce Her Husband, because He shared a Bath with their 4 Years old Son. GET A LIFE WOMAN!

  7. bree says:

    OK everyone, I’m into my third week of taking care of two boys that lost their mom to cancer three years ago. Dad had just returned to work has been and still is a bit of a emotional mess. Cleanliness to the home has not been a top of the list for any of them. The youngest is 9 and I don’t think dad has spent the time teaching this young boy how to clean himself. This child only bathes twice a week which I think isn’t enough seeing I can smell his dirty head smell. He still plays with his boats in the bath and I saw that he wasn’t washing his own hair. I don’t think it’s wrong to help this child under these circumstances. I feel a couple of months of training will set him on track. He still doesn’t cut up his own food on his plate so I think being only 6 yrs old at the time of his mother’s death that even at 9 Yrs of age they still may require an adults guidance and help. Maybe we all shouldn’t judge at what is the right age to let them bathe by themselves. I myself raised two boys and can’t remember at what age they were when I left bathing up to themselves but I do know many times they were sent back in to get all the shampoo rinsed out of their hair.
    Please by all means let me know what you think. Ps. I have donated many hours of my time cleaning for them. I’m hoping in time this will help them all become healthier with all aspects of their lives. (The eldest is 14 , quiet but seems ok so I just make sure he is eating well and knows i’m their even if it’s just to talk. ..

  8. Phil D. says:

    I’m so sorry I discovered this blog so late, but here’s my take:

    Three issues are at stake—
    1) safety of the child (never leave an infant in a bathtub alone)
    2) sanitation (children must at first be *taught* how to cleanse themselves, then assisted, then left alone)
    3) security (trust the child freely gives to the caregiver for their emotional health and dignity)

    There is no one “hard-and-fast rule” dictating when the administration of personal care should stop — children may be at various stages of cognitive development.

    And now that I’m thinking of it, these same concepts applies at the other end of the age spectrum—the elderly.

  9. Helpless says:

    I’m terrified of doing the wrong thing. My daughter is 9, I live overseas and see her whenever I can. At the moment that’s 2 or 3 nights every month. My ex wife is remarried with two more kids. My daughter wants me to play at bath time and comes and climbs in bed with me every morning when she wakes up. I’ve had holy hell from the ex for it… I don’t know what I should do!

  10. Peter kinglyn says:

    I asked the question of my social worker (we’ve adopted). The social workers reply was ‘really depends on the child, as soon as she starts to get too interested in your male parts is a good time to talk and stop getting in the bath together’. The social worker spoke to a child development office who confirmed her view as in some cultures people bathe together in public pools’. So as long as no harm is done it. An he health as the child will be less inquisitive.

  11. Someone who travels says:

    There are many —and I mean MANY— countries, including not a few highly developed countries like in Scandinavia, where nudity is a non-issue. People of all ages bathe or have sauna together since birth to adulthood —when they’re most possibly bathing or having sauna with their kids and everything is OK, no trauma at all or anything. Quite often this is not restricted to close family; extended family and friends join, it’s actually a polite thing to do.

    “Nudity trauma” only develops in repressive societies where you’re brainwashed into think of it as something dirty that you should be ashamed of. It totally is a family/society-induced problem. In societies where this kind of repression is not cultural, there is no such thing as getting traumatized for being naked with other people of any age or sex, you’re used to it, everybody does it and you don’t have a second thought about it because it actually is totally normal, natural and sane. The madness is “demonizing” it until traumatizing kids (and adults) with it.

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