While cleaning your child might seem like a simple task, there's more than one way to get the job done. You can bathe your baby in the sink, purchase a cute little tub, take advantage of a public bath, or get in the tub with them. In fact, many parents prefer to bathe or shower with their little ones, either for convenience or bonding or both. Starting this practice might be easy, but when should you stop co-bathing? Turns out, the answer varies from family to family.
I grew up in a fairly conservative household, so co-showers were a very rare occurrence. When I had my son, however, I recognized that my opportunity to enjoy a bath or shower on any given day increased exponentially if I did it alongside him. We’re more of a shower family, so I started co-showering with him around the time he was finally able to stand and walk on his own. While it doesn't work for everyone, co-showering worked great for our family... until our son got older, that is.
While I still enjoy co-bathing with my son from time to time, I know the end of this particular bonding activity is near. I don’t know when it’ll happen for sure, but I do know that we simply don't have the space in our bathroom to accommodate two people showering simultaneously. Every household is different, though, so I asked a few other moms to chat about how they knew they were done co-bathing with their kids to get an idea of what might work best for my son and I in the future. Here's what they had to say:
“I don't know that I consciously made the decision to stop, but it had to be sometime around when [my daughter] started school. That's when I was newly single. Having her bathe herself allowed me a few minutes to decompress from the workday and get settled into ‘mom mode.’ Now she's 9 and I only co-shower if she's had an (extreme) emotional meltdown late in the day.”
“Still happening at ages 2 and 3. They shower with me or dad, and I'll bathe with them randomly. I think we'll stop at like 5 if they don't want to anymore (our 3-year-old is starting to want privacy when she goes potty). We're not shy about naked bodies at home.”
“I let my kids decide when they’re done or uncomfortable showering and bathing with me. For my oldest it was around age 4 when she wanted to be on her own, and my 3.5-year-old still loves to hop in the bath or shower with me. My husband has never been comfortable bathing with our daughters, but he has on occasion taken a swimsuit bath with them.”
“I stopped regularly co-bathing with my son when I realized how slippery infants get in the shower. After that, every now and then I'd hop in the tub with them. I still potentially would with my 4-year-old daughter, but my son is older and a little too curious about our differences in a way that's very normal but makes me uncomfortable because I don't like to be poked and grabbed."
“I will stop if/when they become uncomfortable and ask for more privacy, obviously. I’m already trying to transition my older one toward showering independently, and she does it at least 75 percent of the time at this point, but it takes her forever and sometimes we just need to get sh*t done. She has no concept that anything about her body should be hidden from anybody, which is fine on the one hand, but I need her to start learning how to keep things hidden when she’s in public so she doesn’t get laughed at. We went on a Girl Scout campout recently and I noticed that all the other girls were hiding inside their sleeping bags to change while my daughter did it right out in the open, and in no kind of hurry. And of course the other girls were giggling. So we are working on it.”
“My daughter will be 5 next week and she showers with me most of the time, but occasionally does solo so she can practice washing herself better and feeling comfortable in the shower alone (I’m still with her in the bathroom). I plan to stop in the next year or so. It really has nothing to do with appropriateness because I’m naked or anything. I just want her to be independent and we are running out of room in there. She still sees plenty of my naked self.”
“We’ve co-bathed and co-showered since our daughter was 2. When she was around 5 she started becoming more independent. There was no strict rule about when to start and stop, but once we saw she could handle most of it on her own we decided to phase it out. I still help her wash her hair, but that’s about it. It’s pretty great having the tub all to myself again, to be honest.”