Mom playfully jokes that the ‘pool counts as a bath’ in summer—and people have thoughts

It is finally sweet, sweet summertime, which means more time spent outside, and also more time spent in some sort of water, whether that’s a pool, splashpad, sprinkler, or just the water hose. In the ‘80s, our parents threw us outside with a sprinkler and told us to go to town all day, if there was a pool involved? Even better. No need for a bath, right? Well, while the ‘80s were “a wild time,” according to Bandit on Bluey, this mom made a similar claim in the “modern era” via Instagram about how kids don’t need baths if they swim in a pool, and people had some thoughts on the matter. 

“Happy ‘the pool counts as a bath’ season to all who participate!” wrote mom of two Neely Gracey as she shared a video of her family enjoying the pool. 

Gracey had no idea her post would be so divisive, she told TODAY.

“Noooo wayyy man. Pool day means it is DEFINITELY a tubby night for my kiddos. So gross, chemicals, sunscreen, sweat, pee, salt, etc.,” one shocked parent said.

“People wonder how a pandemic happened,” said another.

A lifeguard chimed in as well. “Sorry I’m a lifeguard and the chlorine does not clean our skin well!! It actually disinfects the water from [pee] and poo, but it leaves our skin nasty and dry and gross with all the chemicals and bacteria on us.”

Not everyone was disgusted, however. One mom said in solidarity, “I’m all over pool counts as bath season (in fact my kids get more showers at sleep away camp than they usually do at home)!”

“I in no way posted this to create the level of controversy that it apparently did,” she told the publication. “The main reason behind this was I knew that nationwide, everyone’s pools were opening up,” Gracey said.

“Every parent knows the epic battles that ensue from trying to get your kids into the bath and then trying to get them out of the bath,” she explains for the non-parents who have thoughts on her post. “It’s two separate battles every single time. I just wanted to give parents permission to have fun with their kids this summer.” 

So was Gracey right? Are we being overly cautious about bathing after swimming, or bathing our children entirely too much in general?

There is no scientific or biological answer to how often you should bathe your child. During pre-modern times, parents hardly ever bathed their children. The modern era made it a societal norm to bathe your child daily.

In general, many babies and toddlers, especially those who aren’t walking yet, don’t need to be washed with soap every day. If a child has dry, sensitive skin, parents should wash their child with a mild soap once a week.

So obviously a pool counts since you don’t need soap every time, right? Just kidding.

You also risk the chance of bathing your child too much, causing excessive drying of the skin—especially if your child takes long baths. Soaking in a hot bath for long periods of time and scrubbing will lead to dry skin and many existing skin conditions will worsen if you over-scrub your child or use drying, perfumed soaps, per the Motherly article. 

If you do give your child frequent baths—or after every time they swim this summer—there are some bathtime guidelines to consider to prevent eczema or other dry skin conditions, or to use if your child already has dry skin.

Some best practices for bath time for kids who have dry, itchy, sensitive skin or eczema include.

  • The proper temperature for a bath is lukewarm
  • Baths should be brief (5-10 minutes long)
  • To avoid drying out your child’s skin, use mild, fragrance-free soaps (or non-soap cleansers)
  • Use small amounts of soap and wash the child with your hands, rather than scrubbing with a soapy washcloth.
  • Do not let your child sit and play in the tub or basin if the water is all soapy.
  • Use the soap at the end of the bath, not the beginning.
  • When finishing the bath, rinse your child with warm fresh water to remove the soap from their body. Let the child “dance” or “wiggle” for a few seconds to shake off some of the water, and then apply moisturizing ointments, creams, or lotions while their skin is still wet.
  • Simple store-brand petroleum jelly is a wonderful moisturizer, especially if applied right when the child leaves the tub while the skin is still wet.
  • Avoid creams with fragrances, coloring agents, preservatives, and other chemicals. Simple, white, or colorless products are often better for children’s skin.
  • Do not use alcohol-based products.

As for Gracey, she felt the need to point out, “Of course I still bathe my children. In all honesty, it’s so funny that people took it so seriously. I had no idea it was going to turn into what it did.”

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