I give a bath to my two sons(whose ages are 7 years and 9 months, respectively). Occasionally, I need to take a bath, too, at the same time when there is no one there to attend to the children. What is the 'awrah of a mother in front of her children in this case?
You may uncover when necessary in front of your 9-month old son, but not in front of your 7-year old son.
Allah orders us in 24:58 to observe three periods where our children — who have not yet reached puberty, but are aware and can understand what 'awrah is — need to get permission prior to being admitted to our attendance:
- Before the fajr prayer
- During rest at noon (siesta)
- After 'isha prayer
Allah explains that such periods are when we typically dress lighter than normal:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِيَسْتَأْذِنكُمُ الَّذِينَ مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ وَالَّذِينَ لَمْ يَبْلُغُوا الْحُلُمَ مِنكُمْ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ ۚ مِّن قَبْلِ صَلَاةِ الْفَجْرِ وَحِينَ تَضَعُونَ ثِيَابَكُم مِّنَ الظَّهِيرَةِ وَمِن بَعْدِ صَلَاةِ الْعِشَاءِ ۚ ثَلَاثُ عَوْرَاتٍ لَّكُمْ ۚ لَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَا عَلَيْهِمْ جُنَاحٌ بَعْدَهُنَّ ۚ طَوَّافُونَ عَلَيْكُم بَعْضُكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ اللَّهُ لَكُمُ الْآيَاتِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
O you who have believed, let those whom your right hands possess and those who have not [yet] reached puberty among you ask permission of you [before entering] at three times: before the dawn prayer and when you put aside your clothing [for rest] at noon and after the night prayer. [These are] three times of privacy for you. There is no blame upon you nor upon them beyond these [periods], for they continually circulate among you - some of you, among others. Thus does Allah make clear to you the verses; and Allah is Knowing and Wise.
As for the 'awrah in front of the mahrams (men that a woman is not allowed to get married to either permanently or temporarily), the main reference is this verse in the Qur'an:
وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَائِهِنَّ أَوْ آبَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِي أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُولِي الْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا عَلَىٰ عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ ۖ وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ ۚ وَتُوبُوا إِلَى اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ
And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.
There is no known major disagreement among most scholars that exposing adornment refers to hidden ones, and consequently exposing adornment implies exposing the parts of the body of a woman where said adornment is: the face, the hair, the neck, the hands and arms, and the feet. This is based on where adornment is typically displayed, and on what Az-Zubayr ibn al-'Awām and 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ūd that adornment in this verse refers to earring, necklace, bracelet, and anklet (Arabic: القرط والقلادة والسوار والخلخال). This is the view expressed in Al-'Ināya Sharh al-Hidāya, Vol. 10, pp. 24, Al-Bahr ar-Rā'iq, Vol. 8, pp. 220, and Tabyīn al-Haqā'q, Vol. 7, pp. 19, among other books. Note that Muhammad ash-Shawkani in Fat'h Al-Qadīr, Vol. 10, pp. 25 limited the 'awrah in front of maharms that can be exposed to the hands and face only.
In regards to your 7-year old son, you should not uncover yourself in his presence. 'Abdur-Rahman ibn Nāsir as-Sa'di in his book Tafsīr as-Sa'di said that the three periods specified are the ones during which people sleep and that typically people sleep in lighter clothes than what they wear during their waking hours. Once said children reach puberty, they need to ask for permission at all times (24:59). Accordingly, when the children have an understanding of what 'awrah is, they are required to take permission in order not to see what they are not meant to see.
In regards to your 9-month old son, you may uncover yourself in his presence if necessary. Ibn Qudāmah in his book Al-Mughni said that boys who have not yet reached puberty and cannot discern what 'awrah is, there is no need to cover oneself in their presence. This may continue until he reaches an age where he can describe what he sees as Zakariyya al-Ansari in his book Al-Ghurar al-Bahiyya, Vol. 4, pp. 98.
For more information, you may refer to this article about uncovering the 'awrah in front of children in Islam Q&A.
It is permissible for a woman to expose her awrah in front of her children who have not reached the age of discernment, and she can take bath with them.
Ibn Qudaamah said in al-Mughni (7/76): As for the boy, if he is still a small child and has not reached the age of discernment, it is not obligatory to cover before him. End quote.
Zakariya al-Ansaari said in Sharh al-Bahjah (4/98): It is permissible to uncover the ‘awrah before a small child who cannot tell others of what he has seen.