Confession time. “Hi, my name’s Marchelle, and I only bathe my children occasionally during the week”. I imagine myself standing up in a room full of strangers while at a fictional Bathing Kids Anonymous meeting.
I’ll admit bathing my kids isn’t exactly top of my priority list during the school holidays. I pick my battles carefully, and unless their feet are reeking of empty NikNaks packets and the dirt marks are visible, I’m not going to give it a second thought.
When it comes to school, well, that’s a different story. We’ve heard the stories of how children could be the main carriers of the virus and still show up as asymptomatic – there’s no debate there.
But when Hollywood couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher revealed during Dax Shepard’s podcast that they only bathed their daughters when they “look physically grubby,” many people were in their feelings.
According to Bang Showbiz, the Bad Moms star, 37, revealed that she hardly ever had a shower growing up as a child because they didn't have hot water at home.
Kunis 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."
"Now, here's the thing: If you can see the dirt on them, clean them. Otherwise, there's no point,” added Kutcher.
What happened next was an unexpected barrage of fellow celebs adding their voices to the crescendo of growing choruses.
Terry Crews initially said "if you ain’t been sweating, you don’t need to shower", and then retracted his statement. Even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson added that he showered three times a day.
Okay, I get that these are grown-ups, and personal hygiene is very important once you reach a certain age. But when it comes to washing your children, that’s a different conversation that needs to be had.
Things just spiralled out of control from there, and Kunis was forced to clarify her stance on the no bathing debate on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, joking: “My intent every day is to bathe my children. I wake up every day, and I’m like, ‘Today I’m going to shower my kids.’”
Unpopular opinion, it’s perfectly okay not to bathe your children every day. And according to health experts, it’s even recommended.
The World Health Organization recommends delaying bathing your newborn until at least 24 hours after birth. Others even suggest waiting up to 48 hours or more.
“A delayed newborn bath is associated with increased likelihood of breastfeeding initiation,” reported the Department of Paediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Centre.
By holding off on bathing, the vernix, the covering that babies develop in the womb, remains with them longer, according to parenting blog www.calmconfidentdoula.com. It offers protection from amniotic fluid, and once a baby is born, it helps regulate warmth, moisture, as well as containing antioxidant and antibiotic properties.
For toddlers and younger children, basically, the same rules apply. Yes, it’s the formative years where they’re eager to explore, and nothing stays clean for long. But in this case, germs are good.
“Children are supposed to come into contact with germs. This is the only way their bodies learn how to fight off bacteria and viruses, which can cause illness, so a few germs left behind after a day’s play isn’t all that horrible,” said Healthline experts.
Children with skin conditions like eczema should not be bathing every day. “Many of these conditions, along with just plain, sensitive skin, are only worsened with regular bathing, especially if your child likes long, hot baths,” added Healthline.
So, bringing us back to the bathing debate. How often should you be bathing your kids? If they’re between the ages of six and 11, once or twice a week will do. This is according to the gospel of the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
I’ll say amen to that.