A Massachusetts mother has come under fire for admitting publicly that her baby son sometimes goes 10 day without a bath. Outraged bloggers and social media commenters view the remark as an offhand admission of poor parenting and “lazy, gross” hygiene. But experts assert that the sparse bathing routine is no real cause for alarm.
The online firestorm began after 32-year-old Claire Goss of Ashland, Mass. published a blogpost entitled “Do You Actually Need To Bathe Baby?” In the post, the part-time blogger and stay-at-home mom confessed that while her first child received baths once or twice daily, three-month-old Charlie only sees the tub once a week –– if that. So far, it hasn’t had any adverse health effect whatsoever, she said.
“As long as you are thoroughly wiping the diaper area, as well as neck and face, then baby is good to go... It's not like he's touching every filthy thing he can find or running around and sweating a lot, so spot cleaning should be pretty sufficient,” she wrote in the blog post. “Unlike my older kids who really, truly stink when dirty, my baby smells really good to me all the time.”
The post quickly drew ire from Babble commenters who called her bathing routine lazy and potentially harmful. Some said that her arguments were nothing but poor excuses for bad parenting. Others chastised her for depriving her son of important bonding time.
“The babies love to cuddle with mom after a bath and a nice gentle towel dry,” one commenter wrote. “And what I really think…you are one lazy mom who seems to have the attitude that you would rather not have your baby, that your baby is too much of a bother.”
Some psychologists agree partially with the sentiments expressed in the comment section of the piece. Speaking to The Daily Mail, psychologist and mother Stephanie Manes said that bathing is indeed an important part of the interaction between a mother and her child.
“The bathing ritual can play an important developmental role for a child in that it offers a powerful opportunity for mother infant bonding,” she told reporters. “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.”
That said, health experts reject the accusations of endangerment. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is really no reason to bathe our baby every single day. In fact, overly diligent bathing routines may eventually cause your baby’s skin to dry out. Instead, mothers are advised to use common sense, and to clean regularly the areas that actually get dirty.
“We've learned now that baby skin is very different than adult skin,” said pediatrician Alan Green, speaking to ABC News. “Really, you want to watch your baby more than watching the calendar when deciding to give a bath.”