Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis created quite a stir when they said how often they bathe their kids. When the couple and parents of two appeared recently on Dax Shepard’s "Armchair Expert" podcast they made it seem like bathing was an occasional activity for their children, based on their own upbringing.
"I didn't have hot water growing up as a child, so I didn't shower much anyway," Kunis, who grew up in the Soviet Union until age seven, explained. "But when I had children, I also didn't wash them every day. Like, I wasn't the parent that bathed my newborns -- ever."
Kutcher added, "Now, here's the thing: If you can see the dirt on them, clean them. Otherwise, there's no point."
As for themselves, Kunis admitted she just gets the hot spots. "I don't wash my body with soap every day," the actress said said. "But I wash pits and tits and holes and soles." Kutcher agreed saying he washed only his "armpits and crotch daily and nothing else ever."
The conversation began when Shepard was trying to convince his producer, Monica Padman, that you shouldn’t wash the natural oils from your skin every day. He argued that it was healthier not to bathe.
Is this good advice though? Most parents tend to wash their kids daily or every other day, a couple days a week at the least. Which is the healthiest option though -- to leave kids’ delicate skin be or to wash ‘em up before you see the dirt? Or is it somewhere in between the two?
CNN spoke to Elaine Larson, senior scholar in residence at the New York Academy of Medicine and professor emerita of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. She says in developed countries such as the U.S., where clean water is free-flowing, we bathe for the smell of it and not because we’re trying to stay healthy. People should bathe when they get contaminated and not necessarily on a set schedule, because washing too often does hurt our natural skin barrier.
For hands, that might be more often (especially now) as you want to remove germs, but for bodies, maybe we only need to bathe after exercise or performing “dirty” tasks, when our bodies are sweaty or soiled.
As for the kids, experts say infants need to be bathed once or twice a week, with their diaper area cleaned more frequently. Slightly older, it’s once or twice a week or more often as they get dirty. When they reach puberty, they should bathe daily as the hormones and therefore stink factor ramp up.
So, it turns out Ashton and Mila aren’t totally wrong after all, though maybe slightly more often for them would be good. I guess parents can take at least one thing off their daily to-do list and add it to their weekly list instead!