The baby should be given a daily bath from birth, but not a daily soaking. Many children suffer from depletion of their vital energy by being overbathed---soaked--in water. The daily bath should be given quickly, using warm water--neither very hot nor very cold. The sponging-off of the body should be followed with a brisk, soft dry-towel rubbing. Your children need to be bathed in a warm room.
Two or three times a week for the first three months a baby's body may be anointed with oil, rubbed well, and then the surplus wiped off with a soft cloth.
Once a week a warm soap-bath may be used, thoroughly scouring the body and rinsing well.
The temperature of all baths should be about blood-heat. During hot summer weather, after the second year, a cool bath may be used; but children that have weakened hearts should not be subjected to cool or cold water.
The less soap used, the better. Of course, with growing, active children it is necessary to use some soap, in order to keep them clean; but the use of much soap ruins the self-cleansing function of the skin.
The bath, from babyhood up, may be given at the most convenient time, either morning or evening. Many homes are not warm enough in the morning for bathing in comfort. However, it is well to establish a regular bathing hour.
Children should be taught early to keep their bodies clean. Hot houses and clothes make bathing necessary, and the skin which is not cleansed properly has a peculiar odor. As soon as they are old enough, they should be taught to take their own daily baths. Water of about blood-heat may be drawn in the tub to the depth of a few inches. The child may squat or stand in the water, and, using a sponge or the hand, bring the water well over the body, using a little soap on the parts requiring special attention. The soap should be thoroughly rinsed off. Then follow with a brisk towel-rubbing.
A short rubber hose, with spray attachment on the end, allows the bath to be given quickly, and the child enjoys its use.
Children should be taught to keep the genital organs clean--washing them as often as the face, eyes, and ears. This cleanliness will remove the cause of irritation which leads to self abuse. Irritation from lack of cleanliness is followed by rubbing of the itching parts--the genitals--and this ends in onanism.
The entire surface of the body must be kept clean. The skin is just as much an organ of the body as the stomach, liver, etc., and a neglected organ becomes diseased. Then, through sympathy, other organs become less efficient. Cleanliness leads to godliness.
The mucous membrane lining the intestinal tract, air-passages, etc., is the skin within, and it is in sympathy with the skin without. Neglect to either reflects on the other. It is no uncommon thing to see people suffering from indigestion due almost entirely to a neglected surface of the body.
And so-called skin diseases, including eruptive diseases, follow on the heels of gastro-intestinal derangements brought on from carelessness in eating. Intestinal putrescence is the basic cause of eruptive diseases.