Dads Giving Daughters a Bath, When Is Girl Too Old?

Updated on September 29, 2011
M.B. asks from Woodstock, GA
22 answers

Hi all. I have a friend who has an almost 7 year old little girl, and a 2 yo little girl. Long story but he just got them back after almost two years of searching and taking the wife to court. Anyway, he has temporary custody part time until a final divorce hearing. He of course doesn't want to do anything wrong and has some concerns about bathing his daughter. When is a little girl too old to need help with her bath, especially from her dad? What do you lady's think? TIA

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answers from Sacramento on

I think it depends on the dad and daughter. If he's uncomfortable, then he he shouldn't do it. The 7 year old can probably bathe her self and might prefer the shower, but he really NEEDS to help the 2 yo because she should't be left unattended in the tub at that age.

It wouldn't be a bad idea for him to look into an age appropriate parenting class. There are probably free ones offered through social services and maybe even one especially for dads. It'll give him a chance to ask these kinds of questions AND it will look good that he took the initiative to go out and educate himself about raising his girls.



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answers from Colorado Springs on

I'm so sad that this is even a question being asked. What a wicked and perverse generation we are to even have to think like this. He should be just fine bathing his daughters.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think when the child becomes uncomfortable with it, then it's time to stop. I have a 7 yo boy who I'm pretty sure I'll be bathing on prom night! :-)

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answers from Dallas on

6-7 is around the age when most girls will start to bathe themselves. I would tell dad to ask her if she wants to bathe on her own (like a big girl) or does she need help? Maybe dad can just "supervise" to make sure she washes well for a while. Most parents will say their daughters gave them signals that they were ready to bathe on their own and that was that. I can understand his hesitancy (even though it's sad that has to even be considered) but have him talk to her and see what she says.

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answers from Portland on

If either of them is uncomfortable with it, she's too old. And there are families who are completely cool with nudity right up to adolescence or later, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a problem. But, since they've been apparently separated for awhile, that could add additional shyness or awkwardness.

No problem with bathing the younger child. The 7yo is probably old enough to bathe herself, or let him know if she'd like his help with shampooing or rinsing.

I think it's great that he's sensitive to this possible concern.

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answers from Dallas on

My daughters 8 and has been able to bathe herself since 6, maybe it was 5 but can't remember for sure. 7 should certainly be old enough for her to shower herself. My 8 y/o DD won't even undress to shower or use the restroom anymore around me or dad! She's very soon as she's done showering she runs to her room and locks the door to get dressed.

I wasn't as shy as a child but I respect her need for privacy and let her bathe herself. There has been times where she'll bathe with little brother so I have to be in there to help with brother and I'll help wash her hair but ONLY she can do her body. : )

Tell him to not worry and if he thinks she has any trouble washing herself, they can go over the "how to's" before she gets in and he can demonstate for her (clothes still on) the proper ways of washing herself w/out before she showers/bathes herself. IF she absolutely needs his help and she's comfortable with him helping, have him buy one of the $1 body scrubbers that you add the liquid soap to and maybe that will help him feel more comfortable with washing her body. Take care!

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answers from Atlanta on

My daughter just turned 7 and either my husband or I draw the bath for her. She washes herself then puts the shampoo in her hair. We leave to give her some privacy then return to make sure all the hair has been washed. We typically help with rinsing her hair which is long and thick. Then we ask if she has cleaned her specific parts (neck, behind ears, girlie parts, feet, etc.). Lastly, we are there for towel time. We scoop her up in a nice big towel and give hugs and snuggles before she heads into her bedroom to put jammies on. This is a wonderful bonding time for all children.

Good luck.



answers from Atlanta on

My feeling is that nudity is not a bad thing and that kids kind of decide for themselves when they want to start being more private and discreet about their bodies. That said, seven is plenty old enough to bathe without her father's help -- though I still get my 7-year-old's shower started (figure out the right temp) for her. Is his oldest daughter comfortable taking her own baths/showers? If not, he can just wean her off daddy's help by allowing her to do more and more herself. (The 2-year-old, of course, is too young to leave alone in the bath -- but I'm sure you both know that already.)


answers from Dallas on

I'd encourage her to shower herself. Use a bath with a shower curtain or obscure glass so that Daddy can be fairly nearby for safety purposes, but still allow privacy.



answers from St. Cloud on

HI M.! I applaud your friend who is so willing to go the extra mile to be on the up and up. It's a good question!

I have an almost 7 year old son. I give him directives in bathing to make sure it's a job well done. He does the actual "washing" of his body. He showers pretty well on his own, but I go into the bathroom to ask if he completed washing everything.

The poster who talked about bathing her son on prom night cracked me up! :)

All the best to your friend and his family!


answers from Tucson on

5 yrs old for any child or any parent. At this age they can bathe themselves. The only thing i still occasionally do for my 8 yr old is wash her hair when shes in the bathtub and remind her to clean certain bodyparts like her armpits.
The 2 yr old will deffinately need to be bathed. Remember vaginas do not need to be cleaned with a soapy washcloth. I dont wash my 2 yr olds private parts. I figure soaking in the tub is plenty.
He will of course be wiping her if she is potting training. If i were him i wouldnt worry about it. Just be a good dad and do what he has to.



answers from Cleveland on

My six year old is able to pretty much bath herself, but sometimes still needs help with her hair. Daddy does still get the water running for her & makes sure the temp is good. If she does need help w/ her hair, he will help her. As for my boys, my 3 & 5 yr olds still need a bit more help then her, but my 5 yr old does have some develpomental issues & 3 is just to young to do it himself.

I think the 7 yr old should be ok w/ bathing herself, but might need help getting the temp right and maybe ask her through the door if she is ok now & then. As for the 2 yr old - she is going to need help for a few more years and if daddy is the only one in the house - he will have to be the one to help her.

I wish him luck!


answers from Atlanta on

This is such a sad story but a huge reality for society today. Hug and treasure those girls lots. I guess I would proactively encourage the older girl to wash herself and dress herself with reward charts and empower her to be feeling confident in doing this. Dad can still be involved but is encouraging the child to take the control of personal time. Communicating with the child about appropriate touching by appropriate people and that Dad is always there when needed. Dad can model bath time routines with the 2 year old as she still requires more assistance.
As a single parent I would say 'stand tall and be proud of the great job you are doing'. Whatever you do you will always be guilty in some peoples eyes but live an honest day, hug and kiss those babies and sleep well knowing you did your best.
Good luck with the rocky road ahead. It does get better.



answers from Tampa on

I had REALLY long hair until I was about nine (and got a pony tail holder stuck in it) and needed help rinsing out my hair until then. After that I was good to go. My almost eight year old step daughter has always had thin, short hair and and has been showering by herself for at least a year, probably closer to two. My husband often turns the water on for her and she still gets occasional post shower "shampoo checks" but even those have petered out as she's gotten better and better at getting the suds out on the first try. She's NOT allowed to lock the door in case she doesn't answer when we call to her. Although even then we don't open it all the way, just enough so that she can hear us even though she's standing around with her head under the water daydreaming and using up all the hot water.


answers from Philadelphia on

I don't know what age is too old. I can tell you though that I have a 5 1/2 year old daughter who now showers herself. I coached her the first few times and made sure she did things that right way and washed everywhere. Now she does it all on her own, all I do is turn the water on for her. I think that you could encourage him to allow her to take showers, and with a little bit of his help, she will be on her own in a very short while.



answers from Los Angeles on

I'm questioning this behavior as well. I've been seeing a guy whom I have increasingly come to love and have been investing my heart in. He has a 7 yr old daughter and I have a 2 yr old daughter. The first time I needed to change my girl in with him around, I went into her room to do it. I felt he didn't need to see that, but he came into her room and watched. Clearly I didn't need a supervisor so I thought it was awkward. Now I try to keep her covered to get my point across when he steps in as I'm changing her. But the more I spend time with him around his daughter, the more my concern grows. She's 7 and a lovely girl. But he seems to be weird about her, she's a very smart girl and she can do a lot on her own, he brags about how smart she is and takes pride in what she knows how to do, but he won't let her shower by herself. She's completely capable of doing it on her own and I think she probably wants to. We took the girls to my cabin and when it was bath time she really didn't want one. So I offered to let my girl bath with her. She loved that idea. So he scrubs her down with a lufa, I noticed extra focus on her girl parts (just trying to be thorough?), I was just surprised that he did it at all. I figured she's old enough to scrub herself. She was grumpy about it until I started distracting her from the bath ritual by talking to her and showing MY 2 YR OLD how to scrub herself. After the bath, and every shower for his 7 yr old, he lays her down as if to change her bum and puts her underwear on for her and gets her dressed and even still puts baby lotion on her. I just thought that topped it off with being inappropriate. i don't think he needs to lotion her whole body or be putting her underwear on her still. She should do that herself. He's made her shower twice a day some of the times I've been around which just seems weird! He insists on helping her and making sure the conditioner is rinsed out of her hair. I think she needs to learn to do it herself! When he tells her to pick out pj's and to get changed into her pj's he watches her from his room (across the hall) until she's done changing. Further, he's extra gropy with her. After I noticed some of these behaviors I started watching for them. When he picks her up I've noticed that he often scoops his fingers behind her bum and right to her girl parts! I don't see anything wrong with a dad patting his daughters bum but he really pats, rubs, slaps, and touches her bum a LOT and it just seems more like a caress. Last night she was cuddling with me and he reached around me and started rubbing her bum calling her his beautiful baby and was getting too close for her comfort and SHE moved his hand from her bum to the side of her leg. I don't think she's exactly comfortable with it either. Then when we were taking her home to her mom's he gave her a bit of a guilt trip about not wanting to sit on his lap in the truck. I just don't know what to think here. Am I being too paranoid or creating a problem out of innocent things? Maybe he's just babying her? I feel that I need to protect MY daughter from this kind of behavior in case it IS wrong. I can't shake the feeling that it's just down right inappropriate and needs to stop. I'm sure that it won't go to severe molestation or anything and that if someone said something I think he would cut it out but I don't want to jump to a nasty conclusion if I'm wrong either. Please give me some feedback!



answers from Chicago on

I would say 6 or 7 - that's when my daughters became more modest and started using the changing rooms at pools and didn't change in the same room as their brother.



answers from Atlanta on

He should run the water for the 7 yr.old and leave the door cracked open leave her a wash cloth and tear free soap and at the end of bath time stand at the door and ask if she's washed under her arms, her bum, shampooed her hair then have her dry off and dress herself. For the 2 yr.old be in the bathroom and instruct the 2yr. old to wash down there with a wash cloth have her dry off and get dressed he should be there to make sure she doesn't slip on the floor.



answers from Hartford on

The 7 year old should be able to shower herself by now. However she may need help with her hair. I think they will tell him when they don't need assistance anymore.



answers from Atlanta on

My daughter has been washing her own hair and body since she turned 5. But, we still start the bath water for her and check on her and get her out of the bath. I think it is more up to his daughter. She should be able to let him know when she needs more privacy. I think getting in and out of the bath and getting the water temperature correct are the things a 7 year old might still need help with. If there is a standing shower (not bathtub shower), then she could probably do everything by herself other than just checking the water temp at the beginning to make sure it isn't too hot. My friends have an 8 year old that showers by herself. So, your friend's daughter is probably at that age that she can do it by herself and it should be up to her to make that decision.



answers from Tulsa on

i would say 7 is a cut off point with exceptions. that being mentally slow. or physically disabled or such. but 7 is old enough to bath themselve but if she has long hair he may need to wash her hair for her. then I would say 9 would be the cutoff point on that. tell him to trust his gut. some can bath themselves as young as 5. When my oldest started bathing himself I would smell him to make sure he smelt like soap and smell his hair to make sure it got washed. if not back to the bath to do it right.

I would smell him and if done right I would say you smell so sexy. he was very proud of himself for being sexy. but at first with the 7yr old if he doesn't let her bath herself now I would sit there and make her do it herself and guide her. I would start at about 3 or 4 on the other girl. they will make mistakes just correct as they happen. but don't take over.



answers from Huntsville on

I think he should be able to ask his daughter if she wants/needs help. Does she want help turning on the water? Does she need help washing/rinsing her hair? He may want to just say "don't forget to wash well" "wash behind your ears!" etc. But she should be able to wash herself ok. With my 4 year old, I wash her hair (sometimes she tries to help), and then give her a rag w/ soap & just guide her by talking to her to wash herself. ("Scrub your legs, belly, arms", etc.)

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