How Often Should You Really Bathe Your (Messy) Toddler?

Whether your toddler loves them or hates them, you may be wondering just how many baths your little one should take a week. Read on to learn more about how often your tot should really take a dip in the suds.


We all want to keep our babies clean, and from the beginning, I too wondered how often I should give my baby a bath. Now that my daughter is almost one-and-a-half and has turned into a busy bee toddler, the issue of bath time has been on my mind again. Am I supposed to bathe her more now that she is on the move all day long? She gets a good washing about three times a week and I sometimes wonder if this is sufficient.

While some parents may enjoy giving their children nightly baths as part of a regular calming bedtime routine, or may think a daily bath is absolutely necessary for cleanliness, the reality may surprise you. Here’s why you might want to stop giving your toddler a bath every night.

What The Experts Say

Pediatrician David Gellar, MD says how often you should bathe your child depends on a child’s day-to-day activity.

“Bathing is really necessary only to clean your child off when she gets dirty,” he says. “That could range from several times in one day, if she makes mud pies or plays in a muddy stream, to once every three or four days, if she spends her time playing house and reading. Most active children could benefit from a bath every few days.”

“The good news is that you might be able to relax your bath time schedule without throwing in the towel on health and cleanliness …. Bathing too often – more than three times per week – could dry out the skin and cause irritation,” says Boyd Miller, MD, pediatrician.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the idea that children need to bathe on a daily basis comes not from a fact based on medicine, but from a sort of cultural standard – an expectation of what constitutes cleanliness, if you will. But unless a toddler is crawling around in the dirt or getting really messy from other things (food, diaper accidents, etc.), a daily bath is absolutely not necessary.

Why You May Not Want to Bathe Your Toddler Too Often

Giving your toddler a bath too frequently may have a negative impact on his well-being. Bathing a toddler too often can cause irritation and skin problems such as eczema. Children under five years of age are more prone to developing eczema, as research has shown their skin is more susceptible to allergens and irritants. An increase in the number of childhood eczema cases has also been reported in the past few decades.

Aside from itchy skin problems from too much bathing, people are fast discovering that being overly clean can actually be harmful.

Rob Dunn, professor of biology and author of The Wild Life of Our Bodies, shares in his book that when we try to live overly clean or “sterile” lives, it can be detrimental to our immune systems. Our bodies need certain gut bacteria and microbes to keep us safe from  the more dangerous pathogens out there. The good bacteria help us stay healthy and enable our bodies to function properly.

So ultimately, what is the answer to toddler bath time?

Keep your toddler clean and allow him to enjoy a bath a few times a week, but try not to overdo things. Remember that some dirt can actually be good for us!


Rhonda Mix

Rhonda is mom to a bright and sweet little girl. She enjoys writing for work, writing for fun and reading when time allows. Also passionate about travel, she has a fondness for Taiwan - where she once lived in a previous chapter of her life. She looks forward to all the adventures ahead and exploring new places with two of her biggest loves - her daughter and husband.

About The Toddle

We’re a media company helping parents get clearer answers to questions about raising smart, healthy kids. Get in touch to learn more about our mission.

7119 E Shea Blvd #109-176, Scottsdale, AZ 85254
(623) 226-8142