Three-month-old baby Charlie only gets his nighttime baths once a week (or even every two weeks) because his mother is simply “too busy.”
The 32-year-old part-time Babble Blogger, Claire Gloss, has recently stirred up controversy on the web when she came clean about her dirty little secret: “I really don’t bathe my baby,” she wrote. On her blog, the mother nonchalantly couldn’t recall the last time she used her baby’s special bathtub: “’Huh,’” I thought, ‘when was the last time I used THAT?!’”
The Massachusetts mother of three is no rookie to motherhood. Gloss used to bathe her first child, now five, and her second child, every evening. However, Gloss’s pediatrician warned her that her second child’s skin was getting dried out from too many baths, the mother told ABC News. Gloss decided to take preventative measures with Charlie, her third child, by bathing him weekly, or bi-weekly.
According to the Baby Center, too much bathing and soap removes the skin’s natural oils – the main cause of dry skin. Babies and children are more susceptible to drying because their skin is more delicate and produces less natural oils than older children and adults. To prevent dry skin, Gloss planned to limit baby Charlie’s baths to once a week, but admits that sometimes her schedule leads to bi-weekly bathing. “I will confess, it has gone longer than a week. . . It can be a good 10 days, but if you met my baby and held him, you'd probably think he smells as amazing as I do," Gloss said to ABC News.
Experts do not usually advise bathing infants as infrequently as weekly or bi-weekly. The American Pregnancy Association (APA) recommends that caretakers bathe babies every other day because their skin is still sensitive and delicate. As babies grow and their skin begins to become thicker overtime, the APA suggests parents should begin daily bathing.
Even if problems like dry skin arise, parents can still bathe their babies daily by the taking proper precautions. Instead of less baths, parents can instead shorten them: for example, a 30-minute bath could be cut to about ten minutes, suggests Seth Orlow, Director of Pediatric Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine to the Baby Center. Orlow recommends that parents use warm water – not hot – and sparingly use soap. For a less harsh cleaning agent, parents can opt for a fragrance-free, soap-free cleanser.
While baby Charlie does not have a nightly bath routine, Gloss does make sure to include a diaper change and washes his hands and face. The mother of three believes her “mother knows best” mantra will not steer her wrong.
Gloss has the support of several mothers like Marybeth Long, from Westchester, NY, who found that twice a week was best for her daughter, Kyra. “Pre-crawling I probably bathed my daughter twice a week because greasy hair isn't cute on anyone, “Marybeth told the Daily Mail. “Now that she's a toddler I bathe her every other day since she's an avid fan of rolling in the dirt.”
However, not all mothers are on board with Gloss’s parenting strategy. Nina Postans, from Brooklyn, NY bathes her three-month-old daughter, Madeleine, every day as part of her bedtime ritual. “They are at a crucial age where they need to establish a sleep routine and having a nightly bath (water is fine — you don't need to use soap all the time!) is part of this,” said Postans to the Daily Mail.
Babies like Charlie may be missing out on more than just a nightly bath. Passing up bathing could affect the maternal connection between mother and infant. Some of the best ways to bond with your child are to have some skin-to-skin cuddle time – typically done when bathing.
Stephanie Manes, a psychologist and mother in her own right, told the Daily Mail that mothers and infants may miss out on bonding opportunities that enhance physical and emotional closeness. “Ideally, the bath is a time for physical closeness along with face to face contact when the mom can follow her baby's gaze — experiences that foster healthy attachment.”
While Gloss advocates weekly bathing for her child, she does not tell all mothers to jump on board. “'[Mothers] have gut feelings about their babies, and I would never presume to tell you how often to bathe your baby," she told ABC News.