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From twice a day to monthly: 19 women on how often they actually bathe their kids.

Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis sparked a global debate last week after sharing on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast that they only wash their kids “when they can see the dirt on them”. 

The couple began by telling Dax about their personal washing routines, with Ashton saying he washes his “armpits and my crotch daily and nothing else ever”. 

Mila said that as someone who grew up without hot water in the Ukraine, she was not “that parent who bathed her newborns - ever”.

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Since then, fellow Hollywood star Kristen Bell has come out in solidarity saying on US TV show The View, that she too “waits for the stink” before washing her kids.

“Once you catch a whiff, that's biology's way of letting you know you need to clean it up,” Kristen said.

“There's a red flag. Honestly, it's just bacteria; once you get bacteria you gotta be like, 'Get in the tub or the shower.' So, I don't hate what [Ashton and Mila] are doing. I wait for the stink."

We wanted to know whether this was a weird Hollywood trend or an everyday occurrence, so we asked our Mamamia community to tell us how often they bathed their kids and why. 

We were inundated with answers that covered a range of family washing habits, but here are 19 of our favourite responses:

1. Sarah

I’m a mum to three kids aged five, three and three months old. When our first child was born we were careful not to bathe too often to avoid drying out his skin. 

With our third, we are more likely to bathe her when we can’t remember when her last one was! My second child has eczema so we definitely try not to bathe her too often. Usually it ends up being a couple of times a week, and we time it before kindergarten so the teachers don’t think we are terrible parents for sending stinky kids!

2. Susie

I have twins and found it difficult to bathe them by myself.

My husband would get home from work too late, so we just did it once-a-week on the weekend. They are nine now and it's still pretty much once a week!

It usually coincides with hair needing to be washed. I have told them that once they are teenagers they will need to shower more often.

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3. Lisa

Twice a day, usually! My dad always told me that water is the best way to calm down your kids. They’re adults with autism and not the best at toilet paper either. Also, my kids have enough social challenges without being smelly.

4. Kylie

My seven and five-year-olds have two washes a week, and those [are done] under duress. The one-year-old will get in anyone's shower, so at least once a day for them. We used to be an everyday bathing family with my eldest until eczema slowed it right down, and it stuck.

5. Lorna

Our daughter is seven and has a bath weekly, and this has always been the case.

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There's no hygiene reason for a daily bath or shower and it's a strain on our earth’s resources as it is. It's a great habit to have, and to review what we do and question the validity and reasons.

6. Laura

We do a nightly bath with my 15-month-old, but rarely use soap unless she’s dirty. It’s more of a ‘my kid loves to play in water’ thing than a cleaning thing. It started because we were trying to get her used to the bath, and now she doesn’t let us not do it! We tried to skip it last night due to time, and she crawled to the bathroom and refused to move to her bedroom!

7. Clare

My three, five and seven-year-olds have baths twice a week. I’ve been embarrassed about that so I’m glad I’m not the only one. It is such an effort to get them in and then get them out, there’s always tears involved and that’s all I can manage.

8. Madeleine

Every night - it’s part of our bedtime routine. I just add a few squirts of body wash to the water though and don’t wash her skin directly with soap. Additional baths some days when there are nappy explosions which are way too hard to clean with wipes alone.

Hair wash every three to five days with gentle baby shampoo.

9. Kate

Yep, when they are dirty! 

I honestly don’t know how people find time for daily baths, we never have. We properly shower (because there is no bath in our new house) once a week and then also swim once a week with a rinse after.

We had a good 12 months with my eldest between about two and three years old, where she HATED the bath, she just utterly refused and it was all screaming and tears from both of us! So we just gave up until she was ready again. She still swam during that time, so wasn’t completely grotty!

10. Kerry

We shower or bath the kids every night. There is nothing better than going to bed squeaky clean. The only exceptions are maybe in summer - they have a late afternoon swim and an outdoor shower to get the salt off. Or if we are out super late, then they can go straight to bed, but 99 per cent of the time they get clean right after dinner.

11. Jennifer

We have a four and a two-year-old and generally shower or bathe them every night after daycare, but it’s more flexible on a weekend. At daycare they get FILTHY, so it’s a must on the days they go!

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12. Holly

I have a seven-week-old baby and we bathe him every day. He loves the bath, it relaxes him and he falls asleep easier afterwards. 

My boyfriend and I love to see him smiling and cooing, it’s one of our favourite parts of the day.

13. Karla

Daily bath at night no matter what! They are out and about playing, at school, in the yard getting dirty and covered in germs so they must wash! I couldn’t imagine getting to bed dirty at the end of the day, especially in summer. 

Now in COVID times a daily bath is even more important! Bathing was also part of the baby's bedtime routine of bath/boob/bed and it helped to settle them.

14. Cathy

I have always bathed my kids daily, sometimes more often. It was part of their wind down routine when they were babies and small children (dinner, bath, bed) and now as teens it is essential for hygiene and body odour. 

There comes a time in everyone's life where we shower for hygiene and body odour, more than that we are dirty. 

15. Claudia

I just gave my babies a quick oily water bath to continue the bed routine. As they became older, they needed the sweat washed off, but we did it in the shower to get ready for bed. 

No showers in the morning, only at night. As teens they continued the night shower as they were doing lots of afternoon sports. We also have a bidet, so the ‘pits and slits’ can be refreshed at any time.

16. Claire

We don't wash every night but it does always feel like a nice circuit breaker. My two boys (aged three and six) and I jump in the shower together and it calms them down for bedtime. Plus, they tell me funny stories!

17. Elle

Minimal bathing as and when necessary. I have twins with medical needs which meant we were flat out just making sure everyone was fed and medicated properly. Not a priority. Maybe monthly at some points! A sponge wash was all they needed.

18. Ursula

Daily evening showers with dad who is a tradie, so needs to shower after work every day.

We very rarely skip it as it’s her wind down cue and their bonding time before pyjamas, books and bed (and mum’s 20 minutes of peace and quiet!). 

We didn’t bathe her for the first nine days after we got home from the hospital due to anxiety with a slippery newborn!

19. Kate. A

My 13-year-old showers every night, sometimes in the morning as well. We play a lot of sports and teenage boys are just stinky! 

When he was smaller though it was more about a ‘wind down’ routine at night. Do what works for you!

How often do you wash your kids? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: Getty.