Over the years, bath time for babies and kids often transitions from “Oh no, don’t wet my head!” to “Oh yeah! Time to play with my bath toys!”. While necessary for keeping your little ones clean (even if it’s just for a few hours), baths aren’t without their own dangers. In fact, 1 in 5 people who die from drowning-related incidents are children 14 and younger and an estimated ⅔ of child drowning incidents in the home happen in the bathtub.
Guard your family against accidental drowning and other common bathroom injuries with these 18 tips:
1. Avoid bath toys with hard edges. They can be a source of injury if a child falls down on one of them.
2. Place a cover over your faucet or waterspout (typically rubber) and towels over metal shower rods and rails. This can prevent injury as well as keep little ones from bumping or burning themselves on a hot water spout.
3. Cover doorknobs with child-proof locks that prevent a wandering child from accidentally entering the bathroom without you.
4. Turn your water heater temperature down to no more than 120° F and always test the temperature of the bath water before your child gets in.
5. Prevent slipping and sliding with non-slip bath mats, adhesive strips, or slip resistant spray you apply to the floor of the bathtub.
6. Make sure personal care items, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, and electrical appliances (like hair dryers) are safely stored in the bathroom out of reach or in cabinets with child-proof locks on them.
7. Shower safely with a shower stool or bath chair that lets your little one sit while you use a removable shower head to bathe and rinse them off.
8. Make sure toilet lids are closed and secured when not in use to prevent toddlers, especially, from wandering up and accidentally falling in.
9. Never leave your child unattended in the bath. Even toddlers can drown in a couple inches of water without making a sound. Most experts say that the age at which you can leave your child on their own in a bathtub for a short amount of time will vary – from some it may be 5, for others 7 or 8 years old. Just remember, nothing replaces the safety of adult supervision.
10. In an emergency, wrap your child in a towel and take them with you if you have to leave the bathroom. Even if they are in elementary school, you never know if you might get held up returning.
11. As your child grows older and wants to be more independent, incorporate helpful safety equipment like bath steps and grab bars and handles for the bathtub. This will help them safely enter and exit the tub with less risk of falling and hurting themselves.
12. Check that any medications are out of reach and safely secured in a medicine cabinet or organizer on a high shelf to prevent exploring kids from accidentally getting their hands on them. All medicine bottles should also have safety caps on them.
13. Keep all other caregivers including grandparents and babysitters on the same page when it comes to bathroom safety. Even go so far as to post helpful checklists on the bathroom wall.
14. Prevent your child (and yourself!) from accidental slips and slides in the bathroom by keeping the floor dry of water and toiletry spills. Kids like to splash so always dry the floor with a towel before they exit the tub.
15. Use bath mats outside the shower and tub with slip-resistant backing so kids can dry their feet without skidding around.
16. Prevent kids from playing with the bath faucet, spout, and hot and cold knobs by installing tap shields, gates, or other protectors.
17. Keep commonly used bath items well within reach during bath time so you don’t have to pop out to grab anything. Encourage your child to help organize their toys and bath items (comb, cap, etc.) in a waterproof pail.
18. Make sure the lighting in the bathroom is consistent and bright. Blinds or drapes over windows can help prevent glare off of mirrors, and fresh, bright light bulbs can prevent accidental bumps and bruises that happen when you or your child are fumbling in the dark.
Bath time plays an important role in mother-child bonding during those early years. Don’t let it also be a source of danger for your child. Follow this checklist for bathroom safety and rest easy!