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Leaving aside emotional benefits (kids like to splash around in a bath and have fun) are there any health benefits or negatives to taking a bath vs. taking a shower?

I'm looking for an answer based on studies, not opinions.

Age range is 5-10 years old.

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I feel like this has less to do with parenting/children and more to do with general hygiene. If there's a benefit/risk to taking a bath vs shower, it would apply equally to both adults and children (especially assuming either the adult sets the temperature of the water, or the child is capable of doing so properly). –  Doc May 23 at 14:33
    
I think that reworded it could be an acceptable question. As is it's probably a bit uninvolved with parenting, but the real question is something like "Should I let my kids take a shower/have my kids take showers instead of baths?" which is reasonable as a parent I'd think. –  Joe May 23 at 21:07
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@Doc - except adults don't throw tantrums that they want a bath and not a shower because they can play with a duck in a bath. –  user3143 May 23 at 22:18
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@DVK except you said "Leaving aside emotional benefits [...] Are there any health benefits ...". Throwing tantrums and playing with toys are [drumroll] emotional benefits/detriments. –  Doc May 24 at 23:57

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

General problems and benefits (which apply equally to adults and children):

Shower

  • Chance to slip and fall (causing injury)
  • Uneven distribution of water over body / having to step out of the water (not really a health risk, but can cause discomfort); this will depend on type of shower head, where the head points, height of the person, and size of the person.
  • Usually much quicker.
  • Little/no prep time required
  • Dirt and such is rinsed off and directly down the drain.

Bath

  • Chance of drowning (falling asleep, passing out, slip/fall)
  • Dirt, soap suds, and such stay in the bath as you wash (bathing in dirty water)
  • Long prep time (which can be more difficult to get the 'right' temperature)
  • Water cools over time (this may be a detriment or benefit depending on opinion)
  • More relaxing (dependent on personality of bather)
  • Possibly beneficial for sore muscles or the like (bad backs?)

For younger children, make sure they're being observed regardless of whether they take a shower or bath. Overall, the only reason really to definitely take a shower over a bath is dependent on how dirty the bather is. If the bather is very dirty, a shower is better due to the benefit of having all the dirt and such washed off and straight down the drain. Otherwise it's almost completely dependent on the personality of the bather and possibly any time constraints you have. (This is assuming that the bather is competent enough not to have an accident like slip/fall).

I looked to see if I could find research proving that either of the choices were healthier (common sense told me that a shower should be healthier due to not 'stewing in your own filth') but was unable to find any conclusive research one way or the other. Either the topic hasn't been well researched, or the research that has been done has found no significant health benefit/risk between the two. The only exception being the possible benefit of a hot/cold bath on sore muscles and such.

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+1. I would suspect that a shower might, at least in some situations, be better for sore muscles, simply because you can focus the water on the necessary spot, and ensure that the temperature remains consistent, whereas a bath will gradually cool, limiting the amount of time you can apply heat to the area (unless you're in a heated whirlpool or such). –  Beofett May 27 at 14:40
    
Another reason to take a shower rather than a bath is environmental: it wastes less water. Also, if there are several people all wanting to use the bathroom at around the same time, the quicker throughput of a shower is a definite advantage. –  Erik Kowal Jul 11 at 2:51

A bath is a set temperature that will get cooler. You can test the temperature before you get in. A shower (depending on the plumbing) can get sudennly much hotter. This could cause scalding or the rapid movement away from the hot water could cause a fall and injury.

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