I’ve never been big on sharing the tub with my kids, but that’s primarily because hot baths are a mom coping technique. When I shower is probably one of the few times I might get 5 minutes to myself. I do, however, know lots of folks that do bathe or shower with their kids and many of them have asked me about when, and if, they should stop, being that I write all this lovely parenting website. Frankly, I think that’s a good question with no real answer.
Bathing with infants
There is no real reason you wouldn’t bathe with an infant. Though I would note, many adults prefer a water temperature which may be too hot for a baby. You may also find that your personal hygiene products such as shampoo or body wash are too harsh for your baby’s delicate skin. If you do choose to co-bathe, consider washing baby first with more appropriate water temperature and soap, then giving your baby to someone not in the shower and finishing yourself. This way you get the ease of washing your baby in the tub with you, but not the down sides. As a side point, many infants dislike showers despite having the instinct to hold their breath.
Bathing or showering with toddlers
This is where many people start to question whether it’s OK to have their child in the tub or shower with them, especially if they are the parent of the opposite sex. Toddlers do indeed begin to develop a sense of gender identity and will likely take special notice of your visible reproductive parts. However, this is actually a normal, healthy part of development. Americans tend to place a high taboo on nudity, but in many cultures it’s normal for people of all ages to see one another naked. If you are comfortable showering with your toddler, then it’s OK. Be prepared for lots of questions though, and possibly attempts to touch. If you really enjoy your baths together but are uncomfortable, you could wear swim suits for the first part of the bath, and get clean once your child is not in the tub.
Bathing or showering with older kids
As you can likely derive from the toddler explanation, you can bathe with your older children, but be aware that sometime around ages 7 to 9 your child will begin to learn the concept of privacy. They may begin to want to shower alone or you may want to encourage this to help the concept of privacy become more defined. Personally, I’d like to pee alone sometime before my kids are 10 without locks, and I can see making the bathroom a private place a nice step towards that.
So, in summary, there is no right age to stop bathing with your children. It really depends on the family and their feelings towards the issue. Obviously, teens are not going to want to share the bathroom with their parents, and that would be a bit awkward, but before that it’s all up to you.
Did you shower or bathe with your kids? When did you stop?