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When Should Parents Stop Bathing With Toddlers?

by Sara Ipatenco

If you regularly pop your toddler in the bath or shower with you to save time, you might be wondering if he's getting too old to keep doing it. While your body is certainly nothing to be ashamed about, there does come a time when you should go back to bathing by yourself.

Nudity

Your naked body and your child's naked body aren't anything to be ashamed of, but as your toddler gets older, he'll want to keep his private parts out of sight. If you always try to keep your body covered, your child will get the message that his body is something to be ashamed of, according to the AskDr.Sears website. While you probably don't want to walk around the house naked all day, you don't need to be embarrassed or try to cover up if your child walks in on you taking a shower.

Appropriate Age

The appropriate age to stop bathing with your toddler depends on his level of comfort with it. If your toddler doesn't seem to notice that you're both naked while bathing, it's probably fine to keep doing it. There's no hard and fast rule dictating when you have to stop bathing with your toddler, but most children outgrow their desire to bathe with Mom or Dad by the time they're in preschool, which is usually between the ages of 4 and 5.

Cues to Watch For

Once your toddler wants to cover up and not let you see him naked, then it's time to stop bathing at the same time, according to the AskDr.Sears website. Debra W. Haffner, author of "From Diapers to Dating," notes that if your toddler shows an interest in touching your private parts, it's time to stop taking a bath together. It's natural for your child to be interested in the differences between boys and girls, but it's not appropriate to allow your child to touch your private parts. Talk to your child about the differences when you're both fully clothed so he gets the information he needs in a more appropriate way.

New Bathing Practices

Now that you're not bathing together, you should establish a new routine that still allows you spend time with your child. Run a bubble bath and let your child play with his bath toys for a few minutes before getting clean. Give your child as much privacy as he needs while staying within arms' reach of him while he's in the tub. Perhaps you could sit on the toilet and read a book while he bathes. Let him dry himself off and get dressed by himself if that makes him more comfortable, too. You should also remind your child that when you're bathing or showering, you need your privacy as well. While you don't have to stress about your child walking in on you bathing, asking for your privacy will send the message that it's all right for your child to want to keep his naked body private as he gets older.

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

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