How Often Should Kids Shower? A Pediatrician Gives Us the Dirty Truth

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Showering frequency has become a hot-button topic among parents of late (i.e., ever since celebrities started chiming in). As such, we decided to un-muddy the waters (as it were) by taking our question of the day to a more trusted source. So how often should kids shower? Read on for the full scoop.

Meet the Expert

Krupa Playforth, MD is a board-certified pediatrician and founder of The Pediatrician Mom. She received her medical degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and did her residency in pediatrics at Georgetown University. Dr. Playforth has been listed as a top doctor by both Northern Virginia Magazine and the Washingtonian.

How Often Should Kids Shower?

There’s no one answer to this question—namely because showering frequency varies by age, among other things. The good news is that we got a full breakdown of the pediatrician’s recommendations for every major age group, so you can read the relevant information and proceed accordingly.

Preschoolers (Ages 3 to 4)

Most kids this age are still taking baths rather than showers, but in most cases washing two to three times per week is sufficient, the expert tells us. That said, younger kids who attend daycare may benefit from daily baths—provided their delicate skin can tolerate it—in order to wash off all the germs they pick up, though washing their hands and face as soon as they get home is a fine alternative if you prefer a less frequent bathing schedule. (And if your preschooler is into showers, that’s OK too—but Dr. Playforth cautions that they should be doing so supervised.)

Elementary Schoolers (Ages 5 to 9)

In general, it isn’t until age five or older that kids start getting on board with showering and Dr. Playforth tells us that most kids still need some supervision until age 7 or 8, at which point “many are able to take on some of the burden of bathtime on their own, depending on their maturity and how much you trust them.” After age 8, kids typically can (and might prefer to) manage on their own.

That said, kids who can shower independently might still be nudged to do so—you know, instead of playing Minecraft all afternoon instead. So how often should elementary school kids soap up? Per the expert, most kids in this age group should bathe or shower at minimum twice per week, “and particularly if they have been swimming, using sunscreen or bug repellant, or if they are overtly dirty or sweaty.”

It’s worth noting, though, that there are some situations in which more frequent showering may be called for. According to Dr. Playforth, children with eczema often benefit from daily showers with hypoallergenic soap, followed by a thick application of moisturizer; additionally, children with environmental or pollen allergies who have spent time outdoors should shower more frequently, lest they risk ongoing exposure by tracking the offending allergen inside with them. If you think your child falls into either of those categories, talk to your pediatrician to find out how more frequent showering might improve their symptoms.

Tweens (Ages 10 to 12)

During the tween years, many kids will be beginning to transition towards puberty, which often means they start to desire more privacy during bathtime, while also developing a more pungent body odor. For this reason, Dr. Playforth says that “children in this group may benefit from more of a discussion with their parents regarding the importance of thorough washing rather than standing under the shower briefly.”

As for frequency, there’s a lot of variability for this age group. That said, the pediatrician recommends that parents follow the same guidelines as for younger kids (i.e., twice per week at minimum) if the tween in question isn’t yet approaching puberty; whereas older tweens should be encouraged to work towards daily showers.

Teenagers (Ages 13+)

By the time a child hits adolescence, they are able to fully manage their own hygiene. Still, “many teens do need constant reminders so it does not get overlooked, especially in middle school,” says Dr. Playforth. As you might have guessed, the expert recommends that teens shower every day, and may need to wash their face more than once a day, since “the hormonal changes during this period of life can lead to acne, body odor, and increased sensitivity to dirt and environmental triggers.” Makes sense, right?

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