Bathing a 5 Year Old

Updated on November 16, 2010
D.D. asks from Portland, OR
17 answers

At what point do you let your child start to bathe herself? My daughter seems to be a little young to still do everything (like wash her hair by herself) but I am starting to let her wash her body and stuff by herself. I find that I still have to help her along with that. I also ask this because up until husband and I had been taking turns with giving her a bath. Now he is giving me the excuse of "she is getting to big for him to bathe her and it makes him uncomfortable." Honestly, I think it is him being lazy. But...that is a whole other story I will probably bring up another time :)

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So What Happened?

Thanks! I will definitely try to push her into being a little more independent. Maybe I can have dad do the 'getting ready for bed' routine every night then since I am stuck with the bathing now! :)

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Depends on the child, I think. My 7 yo son still needs assistance. Some of his buddies get showers with supervision, some do it completely alone.
I keep thin king I should have bought O. of those tub kneelers that I thought was so extravagant b/c I never thought I'd be kneeling tub-side for this long!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Wayne on

I think at 5 they still need help. I don't think she'd be able to wash and rinse her hair by herself. Maybe if you teach her to shower instead of take a bath? It's easier to get totally rinsed in a shower, not to mention it's always clean water.

On the subject of daddy giving the baths, my daughter is almost 4 and my husband doesn't feel comfortable washing her body anymore. He refuses to clean her bottom and vagina. I have to come in and do it. He doesn't want her to think that it's ok for a man, any man, to touch her there. I totally get it and am on board with it. If my daughter gets a bath instead of a shower, he will sit with her in the bathroom while she plays, he washes her hair, but I wash her body. She does good with getting the major parts scrubbed, but I supervise. We'll do this until she can get her private areas cleaned well enough.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from New York on

Always encourage your child towards independence. The goal for them and you is for them to be fully self sufficient and out of your house. The time really goes by quickly. But she is definitely of an age where she can be taught how to wash herself thoroghly, understanding she will need help with her hair.

As for hubby, he's not being lazy, he is uncomfortable and that just is what it is. Ask him if he would be willing to just monitor her while she is bathing rather than bathing her. Perhaps there can be some kind of gradual transition. If not don't sweat it, just give him some other task to do while you take over bath. I'm certain there are tons of things to do in preparation for the next day.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I think you are doing the right thing by helping her, you are teaching her to bathe herself as she gets older. As for your husband he has a valid point. He feels as though she is getting to old for him to give her a bath. Even if you think he is wrong I think you need to respect his feelings regarding him bathing her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

Haha, Dad bailed.
Um, she's probably old enough for the most part, I'd be more worried she didnt rinse off well, I'm sure she'll need you hangin out in there for another year or so just to make sure all the parts got cleaned and rinsed properly. Actually she will probably let YOU know when she's done with you... ;)

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answers from Jacksonville on

All kids are different. Obviously, your daughter still needs some help with things. My daughter did too for quite a long time (she has REALLY long hair and just couldn't shampoo/condition/rinse properly on her own)... Now that she is 9 she is FINALLY able to do everything on her own. Although, sometimes she does still come out with some little shampoo bubbles in the crown of her

I say, if dad finds it awkward, then that's fine. Mostly, my daughter liked having company with her at that age, so maybe dad just feels weird with her naked in the bath mostly just sitting there. You can wash and guide her how to wash (and point out places she has missed, etc) and just hang out with her. Yeah... it was kind of a pain sometimes... but that was actually the time of day that she opened up and just TALKED about stuff. ALL her inhibitions disappeared when she was in the bath... lol

My hubby works a regressive shift schedule, so he was RARELY involved with bath time to begin with. With either of our kids (we have a son, also). He is/was either not home yet, or already getting himself ready to go to bed, or already IN bed, most nights.

But yeah.. around that age I started wanting to push our son into doing things like baths for himself... It wasn't weird or awkward so much, but he started getting a little more aware of privacy issues around that time and so I just went with it. He also would get more "chatty" when he was in the bath relaxed.
I kind of miss those random conversations now. :(

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answers from Lincoln on

At 5 I supervise the body washing, "Okay, now wash your other leg..."
and I wash the hair. If your hubby doesn't feel comfortable washing her, then don't make him.

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answers from Buffalo on

Every Child is different, I have my kids wash themselves while i wash and if I need to help I help and if they are doing the job then good for you you did it, YAY!!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I think she's old enough to do it herself but have you supervise like everyone else said. My 3 year old washes herself, gets her hair wet but then I put the shampoo in her hair. If he's uncomfortable washing her at this age, I'd let it go and just ask him to get her dressed afterwards or run the bath water before she gets in.

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answers from Detroit on

I tend to agree with your husband. It's awesome that he helped for so long!

My daughter still needs some assistance and she's 7. I will wash her back and tell her to wash better in the nether regions (because frankly, her butt smells if I don't say something and she'll get a yeast infection for the other part of the nether regions). I will generally let her do most of it herself... But again, I have to tell her if she missed a spot on her hair and remind her to do a better job in certain areas.

I had to tell my ex to have her stepmom 'help' in the same way I do because he's very uncomfortable with the daughter/dad bathing thing. I understand it. Heck, my daughter is realizing that it's 'weird' having her dad help with that stuff.

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answers from Philadelphia on

If it makes him feel uncomfortable do not press the issue. I would help her wash her hair. She should be big enough to wash everything herself. Review with her that she washed everything including the private parts. Just remember,the way men and women perceive things are different.
Good luck

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answers from Chicago on

My 5 year old still needs help washing her hair but she washes her body by herself. Her Dad and I used to take turns giving her a bath until this summer. She decided she was too big and it wasn't okay for Daddy to see her naked anymore. Daddy felt the same way. So now I am the only one who bathes her (yay for me).

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answers from Boston on

My youngest is 3.5 and he "helps" in the shower. He will attempt to scrub his hair and wash his body and he does a very good job at scrubbing his nails. I just go over what he did. I think 5 is plenty old enough for you to let her do it while you supervise and remind her if she missed anywhere.

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answers from Dallas on

I let my kiddos start the washing the body process around 5 yo. I would do their hair first and if it was a "playing" bath vs. a "quick" bath, I let him them play with thier boats, etc. then about 5 min to the end, I get the wash cloth prepped with soap and hand to him. I let him go over his body first, then if he missed any spot (typically knees and feet). I go over it again. Now that he is a bit older, I just tell him, "don't forget your_______" whatever he missed.
Kind of like teeth brushing - I supervise and when they want to do it ALL by themselves, I'll know they are ready:)
Hope that helped a bit.

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answers from Chicago on

My children started washing themselves at 3. My son was fulling bathing/ showering himself at 4. My daughter will probably be a little longer but only because she has very long and thick hair. Getting shampoo out of that is a challenge. Trust me though, you want to get her bathing herself as soon as possible, especially if your hubby is bailing on you. I think that she is not too old for him to bathe her. I would say that once she is in 1st/ 2nd grade that she would be but at some level, it has to do with his comfort too. Good luck. Hope this helps.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My 6 year old has started to bathe by himself. I still help out as needed, such as getting the shower on or shutting it off. I check in on him to make sure he's not just playing in there and remind him to wash. He gets out, dries himself and gets himself dressed. My 3.5 year old pretty much washes herself. I turn the water on and give her the soap and she scrubs and then rinses off, I get her out and dry her and help her dress. Get a pouff like an adult would use, it's easy for the kids to get the soap on and use. Also I got a pump to put the shampoo/conditioner/soap in so it's easier and put it lower so they can reach.


answers from Los Angeles on

Our daughter is 5.5 years old and up until probably a month ago, she showered with me. Then I started having her wash her own hair while she was in there with me, do the conditioner, etc. (she already used the soap on her own). She has a lot of hair, so I gave her thorough pointers on how to scrub her scalp, feel for the remainder of soap, etc. Then I asked her if she wanted to start showering on her own. The thrill on her face made me almost burst out laughing! (Ah, the little things...) Since then, she's managed for the most part on her own. I check in constantly, sometimes assisting w/ the shampooing, but she's doing a really great job. The challenge is now to have take shorter showers (I'm a big water conservationist). But I think you should give it a try.

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