A post about bathtime and neck cheese.
December 08, 2011

Yesterday it occurred to me that I could not remember when, exactly, Charlotte had last been bathed or showered.  Was it over the weekend?  Last week?  Ten days ago?  Had she even seen soap in the last year?

Since that seemed like straight-up crappy parenting, I immediately drew a warm bath for her.

After her bath, Charlotte and I played in the yard and then went to a park with Mallory (and Desmond) (and the twins).  (They come four for the price of one).

In our yard and at the park, my daughter:
    - played with the chickens
    - rolled in the grass
    - played in the stinky creek
    - rolled in wood chips
    - hunted for acorns
    - skidded down a leaf-covered slope on her rear
    - dug in mud
    - ran around wielding a ferocious man-eating stick
    - and otherwise rendered herself Unbelievably Malodorous by doing things that are probably excellent for her development but generally not so great for my nose.

This is going to seem tangential, but when Charlotte was five months old and we were at a family gathering, I was holding her when I noticed that she had neck cheese.  It was the first time that I had ever seen this before and I was horrified.  We were at a gathering!  With people!  That I have to live with!  For the rest of my life!  AND MY KID HAD NECK FILTH!

If I had known then what I know now – that, for example, I would one day consider it a parental victory if my child made it to family gathering with half of her clothes still on – then I would have been like PSSSSH, what’s a little neck cheese?  But, not knowing that, what actually happened was that my voice went five octaves higher than normal and I ran around like a headless chicken looking for a sink because I was certain that at any moment some relative forty feet away would find out that I had failed miserably at basic infant hygiene.

Yesterday afternoon when Charlotte and I were driving home, I kept sniffing the air trying to figure out where THAT STRANGE SMELL came from and it suddenly dawned on me that that what I smelled was actually MY NEWLY-BATHED-TWO-YEAR-OLD.  It was the smell of sweat and mud and wood chips and probably-animal-shit-of-some-sort and stagnant-ish-water and maybe animal crackers and OH MY GOSH, YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME, THREE HOURS AGO SHE SMELLED LIKE FUCKING ROSES.

So we came home and I immediately drew up a second warm bath and you know what?  It turns out that bubbles will buy tolerance of bath-time from a two-year-old only once in a day.  Giving Charlotte a second bath was like wrestling a greased-up monkey.

I feel pretty confident saying now that the neck cheese problem was INFINITELY easier to deal with.


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  1. By on December 08, 2011

    LMAO!! My son is four months old and neck cheese is our mortal enemy right now. I loved this!

  2. By missjoules on December 08, 2011

    Oh man, we get the armpit cheese over here. Also the “Um, do you remember the last time we bathed the baby? No? Me neither. Must be time.“

    Strangely, people are always telling me he smells good and is super soft so I figure it can’t be that damaging.

  3. By on December 08, 2011

    My son NEVER has shoes on by the time we get to our family gatherings. And I always here comments from family about how he never has shoes and he is going to get sick and “doesn’t your mommy put your shoes on?“ I tell them ok, you try it. HAH! HAHAHA!

  4. By on December 08, 2011

    Neck cheese and toe jam go hand in hand with “what is that barnyard smell????“.  Just one of the joys of child raising.

      I was told and firmly believe that you should not bath an infant daily.  Toddlers,.... a whole ‘nother story.

  5. By Heather on December 08, 2011

    Neck cheese and toe jam (our main issue!), oh, my. It never ends. Freshly bathed? Puhlease. Freshly wet maybe. And a whole outfit being properly worn by said baby? Yeah, something will be removed long before we get to our destination and if she ain’t screamin’ in the car, then that’s just fine.

  6. By Alicia S. on December 09, 2011

    Whenever I can I have to avoid taking pictures of my son’s hands because his fingernails are packed with black dirt underneath of them literally thirty seconds after any bath. Neither of my daughters have this issue—just my son. And handwashing alone won’t do a damn thing for it. i have to take my fingernail and scrape each one, or let his fingers soak in the tub to get them clean. It still makes me cringe when I notice them like that on the way to someplace nice, but I’ve learned to cope… :-)

  7. By Jill on December 09, 2011

    I read about babies not needing daily baths, too.  Then my daughter got neck cheese at a few weeks old (I noticed the smell when she turned her head).  And she spits up all over herself all day long.  Oh, yeah, and when I eat while breastfeeding?  Sometimes she has, you know, crumbs stuck to the spit up.  She doesn’t get a bath every day, but I wouldn’t say she doesn’t need one.  Kids are gross!  Luckily, they’re also really cute.

  8. By on December 09, 2011

    Erm ... What on earth is neck cheese???

  9. By on December 09, 2011

    and then, there’s the whole fight about getting the kid IN THE TUB

    and then there’s the second fight about getting the kid OUTTA THAT FRIGGIN TUB

    and then there’s the bathroom floor that needs to be mopped with four king-sized towels so that the kid who’s totally out of control by now doesn’t slip and fall…

  10. By Sarah Christensen on December 09, 2011

    Moira - Neck cheese is just the term I use to describe the dirt build-up that babies get in the creases of their necks.  For us, it happened mostly when the weather warmed up and Charlotte got sweaty, but babies who spit up frequently are also prone to it.  We’ve never bathed or showered Charlotte daily, which I’m sure contributes to it =P

  11. By Mary @ Parenthood on December 09, 2011

    LOL - Beware bathtime that isn’t the toddler’s idea! We went through a phase of anti-water (mercifully short and in remission), which I wrote about here: http://parenthood.phibian.com/?ID=512 including a warning on overusing bubbles with small girls and a very effective alternative if yur kid likes to paint..

    On bathing frquency, you simply MUST read my friend Rachel’s recent(ish) post on bathing practices complete with chats. http://www.graspingforobjectivity.com/2011/10/bathing-study.html Too funny!

  12. By Mary @ Parenthood on December 09, 2011

    Sigh… Chats should read Charts

  13. By Marie on December 09, 2011

    Love this post!  My second daughter had it really bad because she was so fat that it made it really hard to even get in the folds for the first few months.  Now my first daughter has issues with smelling like feet since she insists on wearing shoes without socks.

  14. By Alistar Lee on January 18, 2012

    Cutee baby Charlotte is just so adorable. I understand how easy it is to have them smell so nice at one second and just the total opposite the next. It sometimes becomes a bit of a nightmare for me to force them to take baths. You know how kids are. I liked Charlotte’s photos, she’s really beautiful. Thanks for sharing your experience.


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