Bathtub Safety for Toddlers
One could say I’m quite strict when it comes to bath time. The reason for this is simple: I know three different children (from two families) who have passed away from drowning in their bathtub. Certainly that’s reason enough to have the passion that I do about bathtub safety. This article is a sequel to the infant bathtub safety post and will be focusing on the safety of toddlers during bath time.
I recently wrote a Tub-A-War comparison post that discussed two very popular infant bathtubs. One of which, the Boon Soak Bath, isn’t just an infant tub but works for toddlers (until about 18 months) as well! This option gives your child just enough independence and freedom during bath time, while keeping them contained to a small portion of the large tub. However, if they continually attempt to crawl out of a soak tub, it is time to retire it – as it is no longer considered safe.
If you live in an older home, be sure to check periodically for mold or mildew growing throughout your bathroom, tub, and shower. Reliable water temperature is also a common problem in older homes. Continually check the water temperature while the tub is filling up. It is recommended to use your forearm or elbow to more accurately gauge whether the water is warm enough or cool enough for children. Certain drains can also cause havoc with children; whether it’s getting genitals caught, losing toys, cutting fingers, or an intense build-up of mildew or bacteria. Some type of drain cover may be a great idea depending on your drain situation!
Not too much waterThe rule at my house about when to turn the bathwater off is when the water level reaches the bellybutton of the youngest child in the tub while they’re sitting on their bum. In reading about this topic, it is suggested that the water be within 2-4 inches deep, which puts my bellybutton rule right on target at my house. I like this arbitrary rule because it is straightforward and easy for my kids to understand and they can help me judge when it gets to the right spot to turn it off! That being said, don’t forget that children and babies can drown in water less than 2 inches, so just because the bath water is less than 4 inches, doesn’t automatically make the tub a safe place.
Safe toysBath toys are some of my very favorites! I’m still very confused why some are on the market, with their mold-growing problems, but for the most part I think there are some really great options to buy to thoroughly entertain kids of all ages. A few toy safety guidelines are as follows:
- No holes that allow water into a toy (i.e. rubber ducks with holes)
- Periodically check for broken or missing parts that could cause an injury
- Limit the number of toys in the tub at one time
- Dry or shake excess water off of toys after bath time
InstructionsIt is important to have clear bathtub rules for you children to learn and follow. Luckily, my kids currently “divide and conquer” while in the bath and play alone on opposite sides of the tub. When the novelty of bath time wears off, and they start to pester each other, I know it’s time to wrap it up and pull them out. A few of my rules that I’m sure are common in other homes are the following:
- No pouring water on anybody but yourself
- No water outside of the tub
- No standing up
- No laying down
- No sticking your face in the water
- No drinking the bath water
- No touching each other's privates
- Baby splashes
- Only a parent can touch the faucet
- No closing the shower curtain
- No pulling the diverter valve while the water is running (this turns on the shower)
- No sticking your mouth under the faucet
Keep soaps out of reachNot only is it a waste of money to have an entire bottle of shampoo emptied into the bath, but the temptation for little ones to eat some of this slimy substance is simply too high for many little ones to resist. Soap is also VERY slippery! A little bit on the edge of the tub could easily cause an accident.
While drowning is an absolute possibility, falling in the tub is also a danger and could be equally fatal. My house is only three years old, so the grips that come on the bottom of a standard bathtub are still intact for the most part, but I can definitely see some fading. These grips are in place to help prevent slipping and they fade over time as water and pressure break them down. But I have good news, not only are there products available to help combat this, there are ADORABLE products available to help combat this! Puj Bath Treads or a Boon Bathtub Mat are fantastic options to prevent slipping and add to the safety (and cuteness) of your tub.
Ultimately, many of the things I’ve written above aren’t always an incredible issue if proper supervision is in place. I get it, life is busy. Pajamas, diapers, pull-ups, or towels may need to be grabbed. A phone may need to be answered, or dinner may need assistance. But may I advise you to do your best to prepare all of these things before bath time begins. Grab any item you think you may need, get rid of all distractions, and ensure that your house is in a situation that you’re able to give your bathing children 100% of your attention. Basically, what I’m saying to you is NEVER leave your child unattended in the bathtub. If you absolutely must leave for a couple of seconds, have your child sing you a song or tell you a story so you can ensure that their head is above water during those few seconds. But please don’t make it a habit to leave them often.