When Should A Child Bathe Themselves?

child playing with bubbles in a bath

Bath time is fun for babies, toddlers and young children. As a parent it’s great to see them splashing in the water, playing with their toys, as you wash their body and hair. However, there reaches a point where they need to start washing themselves on their own.

Children are generally ready to start washing themselves when they are around 8 years old, but it can vary. In this article, let’s discuss when children should start bathing and showering themselves.

At what age should a child start bathing themselves?

Most experts agree that children are generally ready to wash themselves in the bath or shower when they are around 8 years old. However, some particularly independent children might be ready a bit younger, around 6 or 7, where as some might still be comfortable you washing them when they are 9 or 10. All children reach this milestone at a different time, but you probably want to supervise them for a while first before letting them do it all themselves.

How do you know when they are ready?

As a parent you can start showing your child how to start washing themselves when you feel they are close to doing it. Once you’ve demonstrated how to do it, and explained all the safety tips (see below), let them have a go themselves with your supervision. It’ll be pretty obvious if you think they’re up to the task or not!

Can a 5 year old bathe themselves?

This is really too young and even if your child was fairly independent at this age, how would you know they are really washing themselves properly, particularly in the hard to reach areas?

For example, my daughter is six years old and she is a very independent girl. She has asked to wash herself a couple of times, but when I let her have a go herself I could see she wasn’t doing it right. I think she may be ready in a year or so though. Knowing her, she’ll probably want to start driving a car when she is 12 🙂

When should you let your child wash their own hair?

There’s no set rule with this as it really depends on your child. Some children can start washing their own hair with your help when they’re 6-8 years old. But they may not be fully independent until they’re 10-12. Length of hair can be a factor here as it’s easier to wash shorter hair than if it’s long and below the shoulders.

boy having a bath

How should you teach your child to bathe themselves?

Here is a 5 step process to encourage your child to ensure they’re washing and cleaning themselves properly:

  1. Before you start, explain to your son/daughter that while they can still have fun in the water, they need to concentrate and listen carefully to understand how to clean themselves correctly. Mention that they should keep soap and shampoo away from their eyes, and they shouldn’t mix the two products together; shampoo for hair, soap for face and body.
  2. Make sure the soap, shampoo and towel are in easy reach of your child from the bath.
  3. Start with the face and instruct your child to wash the key areas such as the neck, armpits, behind the ears, the chest, the behind, legs and feet. You will probably still need to help them wash their hair for a while before they do it by themselves.
  4. Once they’re finished, they need to rinse off the shampoo and soap. You might also have to do this for a while before letting them do it independently.
  5. When they get out of the bath, they should step on the mat and start drying themselves with a towel. It’s a good habit to give them a separate towel for the face, and one for the rest of their body. Make sure they dry the whole body, including the harder to reach areas such as the rear end and armpits.
boy having a shower

How do you teach your child to shower by themselves?

Although kids love taking baths, as they get older they may wish to take a shower instead. However, it’s not as straightforward as you might think. For one, it’s a lot easier for them to get water in their eyes which many children hate. If your child is keen to have a shower, make sure they can bathe themselves first before moving to a shower, as it’s less for them to think about.

The biggest concern is your child slipping and falling over in the shower, so you should think about installing an anti slip mat. You need to stress that they should be very careful washing themselves when they’re standing up, and you should certainly supervise them for a while, before leaving them to do it on their own.

In terms of how to teach them how to shower, here is a quick checklist:

  1. Turn on the shower and find a comfortable temperature (you should do this until you can trust them to do it themselves; you don’t want it to be too hot or cold when they step in the shower)
  2. Ensure the shampoo, soap and shower gel are within easy reach.
  3. Make sure they wet their hair first.
  4. Add shampoo. Make sure they get a bit of a lather and rub it in all over their head
  5. Rinse hair and wash out the shampoo.
  6. Take some soap or shower gel and wash the body starting at the top and working downwards.
  7. Rinse body and slowly step out of the shower.
  8. Grab a towel and dry the body and hair.

One useful tip at TodaysParent is to attach a laminated card with a suction cup on the shower wall highlighting all the instructions.

How old can siblings bathe together?

We all love seeing two toddlers having fun together in the bath. But at what point does it get a little weird? When should two siblings really stop having a bath at the same time?

Normally you should just go with your child’s demands. If an older sibling decides that they longer want to have a bath with their younger brother or sister, it’s time to let them wash by themselves. Even if the younger one wants to have fun splashing water and playing with their older brother or sister, you should respect the older sibling’s wishes first. As children get older they become more modest about their body, and this should be respected for their own wellbeing and development.

As a rough guide, you can probably use the start of school as a time for your children to start bathing by themselves.

How often should a child bathe?

It really depends on the age of your child. In general, you shouldn’t really wash your newborn much at all in the first few months as their skin is so sensitive. But as they get older, for toddlers and young children, they can have a bath 2-3 times a week. For children aged 6-11, they may wish to have a bath every day, but at this age 2-3 times a week is still ok. Once children reach puberty they should shower or take a bath every day.