Do my kids really need a bath every night?

One father is not ashamed to admit his kids don't bathe on a nightly basis.

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Photo: iStockphoto

We are getting into that time of year, where the weather has warmed up and our kids can wear shorts and T-shirts to school. And with the extra time outdoors, our kids are often covered in sand and sunscreen—which means they need to take a bath or shower every night.

Read more: Family sunscreen safety>

For us, this actually represents a change in routine because our kids don’t take a shower or bath every night during the other parts of the year. I know half of you will think we are hillbilly yokels for not bathing our kids every night. But I’m not ashamed of the fact that our kids don’t have a shower or bath on a daily basis.

In fact, I have done some research on this topic and the American Academy for Dermatology has the following bath guidelines for children ages six to 11:

• They should do it least once or twice a week
• When they get dirty, such as playing in the mud
• After being in a pool, lake, ocean or other body of water
• When they get sweaty or have body odour
• As often as directed by a dermatologist if getting treated for a skin disease

And bathing too often can dry out your skin, which can be a big problem for young kids.

Read more: Switching from baths to showers>

For some families, bath time is a critical part of the nighttime routine. Some people will tell you that it’s a nice way for the kids to wind down, although convincing them to get into the shower can often be a stress-inducing experience for the parents. For us, putting the kids through a bath or shower is just one extra hurdle to clear after 7 p.m., so we often skip it if it’s not required.

So during the past few months, we would give them a shower or a bath on alternating nights. We do make certain exceptions—like if they’ve had swimming lessons or visited a local coal mine, we will always make sure to give them a shower afterwards. But for the most part, we are comfortable alternating shower nights for the kids at this age. There are some drawbacks to this method, such as the ever popular question: “Is it bath night tonight?”

Trying to figure out if your kids had a bath the previous night can be one of the most mind-bending exercises out there. Our conversations often go something like this:

Me: “Is it bath night tonight?”
Wife: “Well, did they have one last night?”
Me: “Last night was Tuesday, right?”
Wife: “Yes.”
Me: “What did we do last night? Did Lily have T-ball?”
Wife: “No. That was Monday.”
Me: “So, did Lily have a bath after T-ball?”
Wife: “I think so. But did Elissa have one?”
Me: “I think she had one last night. But maybe that was Monday, because I’m pretty sure I told Elissa to have a shower when the Blue Jays were playing the Yankees. And they wrapped their series against New York on Monday night.”
Wife: “I don’t know how your brain works.”

The one nice thing about the summertime is that we don’t have to go the whole “Is it bath night?” routine—we can just tell them to run through a shower.

Follow along as Ottawa-based sports radio host Ian Mendes gets candid about raising daughters, Elissa and Lily, with his wife, Sonia. Read all of Ian’s The Good Sport posts and follow him on Twitter @ian_mendes.

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