Bath time can be a relaxing and cleansing way for your child to end the day. Proper bathing and hygiene removes dirt, oil, dead skin cells and bacteria from the body; keeps your kiddo clean and smelling fresh; and helps prevent the spread of germs and diseases. Starting at the head and working your way down toward the toes ensures that his whole body is cleaned.
Prep the area before you start bath time. Have all of your supplies within reach. Run lukewarm water for your child. A few inches deep is plenty. Always test the water temperature with your elbow before placing your child in the water. Only bathe your child when you have the time to give him your full attention. You should never leave your child unattended during bath time, as this presents a drowning risk. Add some bath toys for entertainment while you wash your child. If he is old enough, walk him through the bathing process and allow him to clean himself.
The head is the first area that should be addressed when bathing. Wet your child’s entire body by dunking a plastic cup into the lukewarm bath water and pouring it over his head and body. Show him how to squirt out a dime-sized portion of mild, tear-free shampoo, lather it with his hands, and massage it into his hair and scalp. Rinse the suds from his hair using the cup. Remind him to keep his eyes and mouth shut tight while you do this. Apply a kid’s conditioner and rinse. Use a clean washcloth to wash his face and around his eyes. The corners of the washcloth should be used to clean inside and behind his ears. Don’t forget to get all around his neck, too. Even though you can bathe your child more frequently if needed, his hair generally only needs to be washed with shampoo once or twice a week until he hits puberty and becomes more oily, smelly and sweaty.
After the head is squeaky clean, continue down the body. Use a mild, non-abrasive soap on your child. Use the soapy washcloth to wash the tummy and back. Remind your child to get his armpits. A thorough washing of his privates and the skin folds around this area is a hygiene necessity.
Arms and Hands
Your child’s hands and arms get into many things throughout the day. These areas need to be washed frequently throughout the day, as well as at bath time. Wash between the fingers and under the fingernails. The whole length of the arm and elbows should also be addressed.
Legs and Feet
Lastly, you will come to the legs, feet and toes. Wash with a soapy washcloth. Work your way down the legs and end at the feet. Pay special attention to the areas between the toes, behind the knees and on the heels.
Finish up by letting the water out of the bath, pat drying the body and hair with a clean towel. Pat the hair and body with the towel; don’t rub vigorously. Pay special attention to completely dry between the toes and private areas. Fresh underwear and clothes should be put on. Your child should floss and brush his teeth after the bath. If you didn’t use a conditioner during the bath, you can apply a detangling spray or leave-in conditioner now. These work well for children with long hair or hair that tends to get tangled easily. Use a wide-toothed comb on damp hair. Trim his fingernails and toenails when needed.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Body Hygiene
- Nickelodeon Parents Connect: Hygiene for Kids: How to Clean Your Kid's Ears
- Women’s and Children’s Health Network: Personal Hygiene - Taking Care of Your Body
- KidsHealth: Babysitting: Bathtime
- KidsHealth: Hygiene Basics
- KidsHealth: Hand Washing
- HealthyChildren.org: Ready, Set, Bath!
- FamilyDoctor.org: Mouth and Teeth: How to Keep Them Healthy
- Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters: Personal Hygiene
- Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images