Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are causing controversy for not bathing their kids every day. This is what pediatricians say.
Dude, where’s my soap?
While many families consider bath time an essential nighttime ritual, Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis have revealed that washing is less common in their household. The former That show from the 70s co-stars and parents of 6-year-old daughter Wyatt and 4-year-old son Dimitri admitted during a appearance on Dax Shepard’s armchair expert last week that neither they nor their children wash the whole body daily.
“If you can see the dirt on them, clean them,” Kutcher said of his approach to washing his kids. “Otherwise it makes no sense.”
Kunis added that she was “not that parent who has ever bathed my newborn babies.” Agree with Shepard’s argument that soaping every day can strip the body of its natural oils — much to the disgust of his co-host, Monica Padman, who asked, “Who taught you not to wash?” – the couple explained that they don’t shower often, but wash their vital signs (armpits and groin) daily. Kunis also washed her face twice a day, while Kutcher noted that he will splash water on his face after a workout.
The couple’s comments sent shockwaves online, sparking a discourse about hygiene practices and countless memes at the expense of their families. Dorien Toku’s Exfoliating & Cleansing Sapo Body Sponge out of stock — for an amount of several thousand dollars in sales — to author Luvvie Ajayi Jones weighed in on “#ShowerGate” on social media, begging her followers to step up their own grooming game.
Despite the disgusting response to Kunis and Kutcher’s comments, pediatricians say the couple isn’t actually making their kids dirty by not bathing them daily. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, children ages 6 to 11 should bathe at least once or twice a week and whenever they are dirty, sweaty, smelly, or after swimming.
“Kids don’t need to bathe or shower every day unless they get particularly dirty, such as after a day at the beach, park, or theme park,” Dr. Nina Shapiro, Director of Pediatric ENT at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA and author of The ultimate children’s guide to being super healthy, tells Yahoo Life.
dr. Nanette Silverberg, chief of Pediatric Dermatology for the Mount Sinai Health System and clinical professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, adds that while children can vary depending on their specific skin needs, bathing “every day is drying on the skin for most people.”
According to Silverberg, Americans are generally “aggressive washing machines” and have “culturally exaggerated” when it comes to bathing, which she attributes to major cases of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. By limiting bathing (with gentle, fragrance-free cleansers) to a few times a week and instead focusing on moisturizing the skin daily, parents can help prevent their children from developing eczema and its associated rash.
“For most children, and especially babies, you don’t really need daily baths,” she tells Yahoo Life. “It’s not like they roll in the mud, so you don’t necessarily have to worry about washing them that often.”
Once children begin to reach their teens and teens and puberty begins, from about age 11, more frequent bathing is recommended. At that point, Silverberg says, washing becomes more about practicing good hygiene and getting rid of dirt and bacteria and any body odor.
And just as Kutcher revealed that he pays special attention to certain parts of the body when washing, Silverberg recommends focusing on the folds of the skin “because that’s where bacteria and yeast and dirt might build up with sweat.”
“Of course you want to remove visible dirt from the skin, which in small children is often hands, feet and face,” she adds. “[But] for most people, you don’t really need soap on every inch of your body.”
And what about washing hair? For straight hair, a two-week shampoo session is appropriate, says Silverberg, who advises young color patients with textured or coiled hair to wash their hair only once a week to avoid drying or damage. For longer hair that extends into a ponytail, the bottom section can also be conditioned, but for the most part, babies and small children don’t have to worry about conditioner.
Diapers are another factor. Since babies and toddlers who wear diapers are changed at least a few times a day, parents need to worry less about soaping that area extra. But Silverberg recommends using sensitive skin wipes — or even a tissue with water — and protective barrier creams to avoid irritation.
“Even people who don’t say they don’t bathe their child often wash certain areas of the skin often,” she emphasizes. “Little children and babies are washed really often, but in certain locations [including] the face and groin/diaper.”
Long story short, Kunis and Kutcher’s lax toilet routine, while distasteful to some, is enough by pediatrician standards — as long as they don’t overlook one important body part.
“The importance of handwashing with soap is even more important today, given the increasing COVID-19 in children,” warns Shapiro. “Washing hands with warm soapy water followed by drying with a clean towel is much better than just water or hand sanitizers. Once a child is able to stand, or if they have crawled on a floor or on the floor, hand washing should be frequent and a routine that should not be skipped.”