Bedtime baths vs morning baths: what's better for kids?

bathtime in the morning vs bathtime in the evening what is better

What’s the right time to bath your kids?                   

That’s one of the multitude of questions you ask yourself when your new born baby arrives back home. 

There’s one question about when to actually start bathing your baby of course – you can read the advice on that here. But there’s another important question about when in their day-to-day routine is best to bath your kids. That might change over time as they grow up and it can be hard to work out how to fit it in.

In the daily routines of young kids, the nappy changing, getting dressed, brushing teeth, making sure they’ve eaten, drunk, got to bed at a good time etc, bath time was often the thing that dropped off the schedule altogether. Choosing the days of the week when we were going to bath our kids often didn’t mean much. By the time we got round to it, we’d run out of day to make it happen.

The truth is, no one needs to be too worried about how often their kids take a bath, especially when their kids are young. We’re actually more likely to bath kids too much, which is unhelpful for their skin. So if you’re struggling to make time for baths, that’s not always the worst thing. Don’t worry, just reduce the number of baths you give them.

But that leads to the discussion about the pros and cons of what time of day to bath your kids. It’s a constant battle over what makes for a better bathtime for your kids (and you!) and what is actually going to get the job done.  At GRASP we’re big on turning ‘wasted’ time – time when you think you’re there just doing chores – into quality time with your kids. And one way you can do that is by taking the stress out of daily care routines.

When you choose to bath your kids can therefore be a great opportunity to turn one of those ‘oh gosh, another thing I’ve got to do’ moments into a time for meaningful conversations with your kids. So here’s the case for when to bath your kids:

5 great reasons to bath your kids before bed:

  1. Bathing before bed gives your kids a great chance to wind down and calm down ready to go to sleep. There’s almost no point trying to get amped up kids off to sleep. You’ll get frustrated and they’ll get upset (after having wound themselves into a frenzy). It never ends well. A bathtime before bed does something to your kids though. Something about the water, maybe something about the lavender scents you can get with their soap. It just has a knack of winding them down ready for rest. Especially after a long hot day, it’s the perfect way to get them relaxed and ready to sleep.
  2. Bathing before bed prepares your kids physically and mentally for sleep. That is, if it’s part of a wind down routine. That’s nothing to do with the calming power of a soak in some bubbles, it’s more a Pavlov’s dog kinda thing. If you bath them before bed, much like reading a story, it connect them subconsciously with it being time to sleep. It’s why your kids being amped up pre-bedtime is sometimes the perfect cue for an impromptu ‘it’s bathtime!’ because you know it will really change their state of mind.
  3. Bathing before bed is also great because it just ties in with the routine of getting undressed and changed into pyjamas. In a world where you constantly seem to be getting kids, or encouraging kids to get dressed or undressed, one less battle on this front is worth savouring. Bathing your kids at the end of the day ensures it’s part of the ordinary routine of getting changed for bed and that makes life that little bit easier.
  4. Bathing before getting into bed also just feels more hygienic. It means fresher bedding for longer and generally just seems smart. That said, it’s not something I do as an adult (that’s a whole other argument), so it does seem strange that I totally get it for kids. I’m sticking it in the pros for bathing your kids before bed.

3 reasons to bath your kids in the morning (or some other time of day):

  1. It’s just good advice to do the first things first. Or in other words, if you don’t put the big things in first, you wont get them in later. Now bathtime is hardly a ‘big’ thing, so it’s often not something you think of as putting in first. But if you’re bathing your kids less and are really just trying to make sure you absolutely do bath them on a Sunday say, sometimes it’s best to just get it done sooner and make sure it doesn’t get missed because something comes up later in the day that stops you doing it.
  2. If you’re alternative to bathing your kids in the evening is to do it first thing in the morning, it still fits well in their morning routine. You can still avoid adding fuss if they roll out of bed into the bath or bath post-breakfast, but before they’ve got dressed for the day. If you just prefer a morning bath, this still works with a routine.
  3. The main reason to avoid bathing in the evening (other than when they just really need a bath now!) is to break the routine. Breaking the routine is sometimes as important as having a routine. While a bath might help your kids wind down for bed, sometimes the knowledge that bed time is near can make bathtime more trouble than it’s worth. For a toddler who is getting upset or fussy about baths, breaking the routine and bathing them at some other time of day can be the answer.

The GRASP advice for bathing your kids

  • Bath your kids less. It’s just good advice to reduce the stress and make the times you do bathtime more special. Instead focus on the far more important moisturising and do this on a daily basis (like when your kids are getting dressed – as you would maybe with suncream in the summer).
  • Use short baths when necessary to keep your kids clean, but don’t want a big drama. Not every bathtime has to be a big playtime. Sometimes we use bathtime as an opportunity for our kids to play, but sometimes it’s just a wash and done. Keeping things simple and varied means you’re not committed to an elaborate routine every time you need to wash them.
  • A simple rule of thumb is that slow days are for evening baths, busy days are for morning baths. When you know you might not fit a bathtime in(because you’re going to be out all day and your kids will be wrecked by the end of the day, bath them quickly in the morning. It makes sure the job gets done and you’ve not got to worry about it slipping in the evening. On a slow day, at home, just chilling, make a bathtime an event to look forward to. Set it up with toys and fun and give yourself the chance to sit, play and chat with your kids. Make the most of slow days to take the time with your kids.


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