If you're a parent of young kids, you've probably come across some issues that you've wanted a specific answer to, but couldn't find one. The truth is, there are so many questions that arise during parenthood that have no clear answer. When should you stop breastfeeding? When do you stop rocking your babies to sleep? When is it OK to let the kiddos play downstairs on their own? And, if you bathe with your kids or undress while they're around, you might be wondering, when should you stop bathing with your kids? Turns out, the answer might not be what you want to hear.
"Like many things in the world of pediatrics, there's no simple answer to this question," says Dr. Adam Spanier, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and Pediatrician with University of Maryland Medical Center, in an interview with Romper. "In the approach to these questions, I always keep in mind that different families and different cultures have different approaches to these sorts of issues and different approaches to modesty. However, to come up with a single answer to this question, it might be similar to the breastfeeding one — as long as the parent and child wish to."
"That being said," Spanier continues, "if a 2-year-old wants to bathe on their own, they still need adult supervision. Additionally, a child probably needs direct supervision until school age, and after that, a parent needs to be close at hand." Likewise, a child with special medical needs (seizures or other problems) or developmental delays might need closer observation than another child, so the age might be later.
There doesn't seem to be much science to help guide us on whether it's better or worse for your child, or if it makes no difference at all if they see you naked, noted CNN. In general, if both parent and child are OK with bathing together, it's likely just fine to continue doing so. "Nudity, when it's within your home and 100 percent non-sexualized, isn't going to traumatize a child, especially if you're all on the same page, are all consenting and are all comfortable with it," CNN mentioned.
And most of the time, your kids will definitely let you know when they're no longer OK with it — and it's usually about the same time as when they decide they no longer want to be naked around you. This point comes at different times for different kids, and it's important to take their cues in order to teach them larger lessons about consent and respect for others' privacy and bodies.
There are exceptions to this general notion, of course. "If your child still wants to shower with you at a later age — say beyond 8 years or so — there might be some underlying fear or other issue that might need to be addressed," Spanier notes. In that case, further conversation or discussion regarding the situation would be warranted.
Until then, use your kids' bath time (whether you're in there with them or not) to teach them about their bodies (both anatomy, and how to wash and respect it), appropriate touch, and how to respect others' bodies.
"As a parent, you want to be the one teaching your child about all their body parts," says Dr. Michael Chapman, MD, Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FAAP), and pediatrician at Texas Children’s Pediatrics Pediatric Medical Group. "At roughly 2 to 3 years of age, a child starts to be curious about their own body," Chapman continues, "It is important to teach them the correct names of different body parts and show them how to wash appropriately."
In regards to when you should stop showering or bathing together, each family is different. You have to take into account what is right for both you and your child, and make sure that the situation sits well with everyone involved. Some families are more modest, some never bathe together, and some do for a long time. In any regard, more important is what you teach your child about their body and yours, about consent and respect, and how you instill in them the confidence to love their bodies and also, protect them. As it turns out, there is not an age cap on those lessons — they are lifelong.
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