January is National Bath Safety Month (who knew?). I am one of the lucky ones. My kiddos have both loved the water from day one. Once I was able to actually get them to slow down long enough for me to wrestle them into the tub, they splashed away happily as I went about the business of scrubbing every little nook and cranny.
I assumed that my children were safe as long as I stayed right by their side the entire time and watched them like a hawk. After 2 active boys and thousands of baths, I consider myself to be somewhat of a pro. I am the self proclaimed sultan of suds – I currently hold the record (in my house) for the quickest bath ever (two minutes flat).
Have I gotten far too comfortable in my abilities? I decided the time had come for a refresher course and went about reading anything I could find on the subject of bath safety. My ego definitely took a beating when I realized just how much I had to learn! I sit here feeling slightly deflated as I grudgingly admit that maybe I am not such a Jedi-bath master after all. In fact, I was quite shocked at what I read.
Drowning is the #1 cause of deaths for children under the age of 4. #1 ?!?! Holy cow! Maybe there is more to this bath safety thing than I thought. Safety in the bathtub encompasses more than just drowning prevention. Check out my list of hidden bath time dangers and the tips I learned for how to keep your kiddos safe.
Hidden Danger #1 – Slips and Falls
Every parent knows that babies + water + soap = a greased piglet. Make your tub as safe as possible by installing a non-slip rubber mat or a set of grippy decals. Faucets can also pose a hidden danger and can cause injury if children take a tumble. Protect their little noggins from harm by outfitting the tap with a faucet cover. (The Skip Hop Moby Bath Spout Cover is one of our favorites!) Depending on their age, children may not yet have a fully developed sense of balance. Place a non-slip bathroom rug by the side of the tub for added traction and stability. Never allow a child to stand on the side of the tub as she exits – this is a major cause of falls and chin stitches!
Make sure to keep the temperature under control! Children have very sensitive skin and water that’s even a few degrees too hot can mean a nasty scald. To lessen the risk, set your hot water heater to a temperature between 100-125 degrees. Anti-scald devices are also available from local hardware stores. Wait to place your child in the tub until the water has been turned off. The temperature of running water could abruptly change and cause accidental burns. Never allow children to touch the tap. The metal can become hot very quickly and cause blistered fingers.
Big Bud loves to take a bath because it’s the only time he gets to play with his designated bath toys. Anything exposed to a damp environment will inevitably start to mildew over time. Avoid buying toys that are wooden, porous, or spongy, as these tend to absorb water. Make sure to allow all toys to dry thoroughly after the bath and before putting them away. To combat mildew, wash the toys in a mild bleach water solution every couple of weeks. Since I personally detest washing dishes, I throw the toys into the top rack of my dishwasher and wash them on the high temperature wash setting. This sanitizes the toys while keeping my manicure intact.
This one seems like a no-brainer; put away any objects that can harm little ones (pretty much anything they can get their hands on!). Razors, nail clippers, and other adult items should never be within reach of little fingers. Even seemingly “safe” items may seem harmless, but you never know. Little Bud can turn just about anything into a weapon (he poked me in the eye with a baby safe Q-tip once).
Even though this technically isn’t a part of the tub, it’s still a very real bathroom danger. Children can drown in as little as 1 inch of water. Every year, children die in accidental toilet drownings. The sloped sides of the toilet make it nearly impossible for toddlers pull their self out of the bowl if they accidentally fall in. The best way to avoid this danger is to keep the bathroom door shut (and locked) when no one is in there. However, if this is not feasible, the lid of the toilet can be secured with a toilet lock. The lid does have to be down for it to lock in place, so make sure the men of the house understand how important it is to remember to put the seat down!
Bath “safety” seats are actually an oxymoron. Not only are they not safe, they are a drowning hazard. These items are intended as a bath aid and not a safety device. Several national safety agencies are currently in the process of trying to get these seats banned altogether. Children can slip under the bars and become submerged, and the suction cups on the bottom can easily detach, causing the child to tip headfirst into the tub. In fact, these seats are known to have caused 103 confirmed deaths and hundreds of other non-fatal accidents. The worst thing about these so called safety seats is that they do in fact lure the parent into a false sense of safety.
The best way to keep your child safe in the bathtub is good old fashioned parental supervision. Never under any circumstances should a child be left unattended in any amount of water, for any length of time. It only takes a split second for the situation to turn tragic. Children are priceless blessings – DON’T TAKE THE CHANCE!