A bath can be a wonderful fun and bonding time with your baby. But also, it can be anything but that! Bath and bathroom safety go hand in hand together. A bathroom is a commonplace for accidents, with injuries due to falling in the shower or tub being the most frequent.
When I first became a mum, I thought bathing my newborn was the toughest thing. He was so small and delicate! Well, trust me, it is not. Wait until you have a wriggly one year old who does not want to sit in the tub and is constantly trying to grab everything and anything within his reach.
So our main concern here is baby and child safety, especially as your baby gets older and moves to the family tub. Like the kitchen, the bathroom can be one of the most hazardous rooms in your home for your baby. We’re talking slipping hazards, burn hazards, drowning hazards, electrocution hazards […] you name it! The following tips will help keep your baby safe and out of harm.
1 Keep bathroom door locked
When you are not bathing your baby, my number one advice is, keep your bathroom locked. The bathroom can be a risky place for him. He can topple headfirst into toilet bowls and filled tubs or scald himself with water that’s too hot. So make sure your baby doesn’t find his way into the bathroom unsupervised by installing a safety lock high on the outside of the door or by placing a childproof cover over the doorknob. Click here to find more on locks and door handle covers.
I am not a fan of locks. Once you install them, they are fairly permanent and visible. In addition, if you have other young but responsible children, they may not be able to reach the locks at all, which can be another headache for you. And let’s not talk about guests who may or may not remember to lock the door behind them. So what did we do? We babyproofed the bathroom using the hazard control hierarchy.
2 Choose a safe bathing place
When it comes to choosing where to bathe your baby, there are lots of options out there. You might choose the good old-fashioned sink or go for one of the cute baby bathtubs that fill the internet. If you choose the sink, be sure it’s large enough so your baby doesn’t get hurt. If you choose the portable bathtub, place it on a flat and safe surface. Whatever you choose, make sure it allows you to be in a comfortable position; this way you can provide greater safety and security for your baby.
Also, make sure it’s clean to avoid contaminating or irritating your child’s skin.
I bathed my baby in the bathing table. It was at my height, so it was pretty comfortable and most importantly easy on my back. When we did travel with the baby though, we bathed him in the sink. When he was around four months, he seemed too big for the bathing table, so we switched to an inflatable bathtub that we placed in the family tub. Then, after a couple of months, we ditched the inflatable bathtub and we started using the family bathtub.
3 Supervise bath time
When you are bathing your baby, do not leave her unattended, even for a few seconds. I can’t say this enough. Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye! Prepare all your bathroom essentials before bath. If the doorbell rings, ignore it. If you have forgotten something or absolutely have to leave the bathroom, as inconvenient as it seems, scoop your baby up in a towel and take him with you.
Additional bath tips:
- Fill tub just enough to cover your baby’s legs (2 to 3 inches of water/ 5 to 7 cm).
- If you are using a bath seat, remember they are meant to be bathing aids and will not prevent drowning.
- Never leave your baby in the care of an older child.
- Empty the tub after bath time is over.
- Consider removing the bathtub drain plug when it’s not in use to avoid the tub filling if your baby ever turns on the faucet.
Follow these bath safety tips. Trust me, better safe than sorry.
4 Install a toilet lock
What do you think when you see an open toilet bowl? Doing your business? Or maybe some time off away from the kids? No judgment! For your baby though, it’s another opportunity to splash some water, play with the lid, and throw all kinds of stuff in there.
Adding to the problem, your baby is uncoordinated and extremely top-heavy. If he leans over to peer into the toilet bowl, he could easily lose his balance, fall in headfirst, get stuck and drown in as little as an inch of water. Not only that, but the toilet bowl lid can also crash down on your baby’s fingers or bonk him in the head. And let’s not talk about all the germs on the toilet seat.
So keep the toilet lid down and install a toilet lock to prevent your baby from lifting the lid. How great is that for your peace of mind? Not so quickly. It’s important to note that locking the toilet is great as an added layer of protection besides locking the bathroom; however, it can be an inconvenience for you and all the other adults. Tough decision, huh? Whatever you choose, make sure as always that you are comfortable with your decision.
5 Safely store hazardous objects and substances
I think we’ve established well enough that babies love to explore. And what’s not to love about the bathroom? Razors, scissors, and other sharp utensils? Check. Cosmetics, shampoos, and soaps? Check. Medications, including prescription drugs? Again check.
However, not all items in your bathroom are dangerous for your baby. So the first step is screening the bathroom. Store all hazardous materials in a locked cabinet or high up well out of your baby’s reach. Click here to find more on cabinet locks.
As for the other items like towels, unopened packages of toilet paper or clean sponges, you can leave them where your baby can have access to them. That’s, of course, if you are willing to tidy up afterwards.
Before bath time, take a quick look to make sure there is nothing in the vicinity that can hurt your baby as her curious fingers may try to grab anything resting on the side of the tub. I encourage you to keep some toys in the bathtub to entertain your baby. Empty shampoo bottles work too! My son was obsessed with bottles. All kind.
6 Address slippery surfaces
When your baby moves to the big tub, it’s time to get a nonslip bathtub mat, if you don’t have one already. Water, soap, and babies don’t mix well together. Add to that mix a wriggly baby who does not stop moving, and you got yourself a perfect recipe for disaster. This is where bathtub mats come in. They offer grip to the tub, helping you keep your baby steady and safe. When you choose a bathtub mat for your baby, look for one that is anti-slip (bumpy surface), provides full coverage of your bathtub’s surface, and has lots of suction cups for better grip. Remember safety before aesthetics. Regularly check your bathmat to ensure it hasn’t worn down, become loose, or developed mold or mildew spots.
In addition to the bathtub mat, place a nonslip mat on the floor next to the tub and keep the floor and your child’s feet dry to prevent slipping. If you have throw-rugs in the bathroom and you just can’t part with them, secure them with double-faced tape or slip-resistant backings.
7 Limit hot water
Your baby has delicate skin. Even if the water doesn’t feel too hot for you, it can still burn her. To help prevent burns, fill the tub (or wherever you have chosen to bathe your baby in) before putting your baby in. The water in the tub should be around 100°F (38°C). You can check water temperature by dipping your elbow into the water for 5-10 seconds. The water should feel warm and not hot. For greater peace of mind, you can use a bath thermometer.
As your baby grows, she may be able to reach the bathtub knobs or get her hands under the faucet. That’s why it is better to set your water heater to no higher than 120°F (49°C). Also, consider installing a mixer faucet, if you don’t have one already. This protects you from sudden changes in water supply by mixing hot and cold water. To put your mind at ease, you can also install an anti-scalding device on your faucet. This automatic temperature control device will automatically turn off the water if the temperature gets too hot.
A final thought on water temperature: in some old houses, the water temperature can change suddenly if you flush or use water somewhere else in the house. If this is the case in your house, please take the necessary precautions when bathing your child. Another option would be calling a plumbing expert to help you get rid of the problem.
8 Keep the baby seated
Teach your baby to stay seated in the tub at all times. When my son started to pull himself up and stand on his own, I was certainly very proud as a parent. After all, this is a major developmental milestone. The problem is that he wanted to practice this new skill in the bathtub! To see him stand up in the bath can be quite scary. No matter how much I tried, he wouldn’t sit, and he would cry his lungs out; I even borrowed a bathing seat from my neighbor for a couple of days to see if it would help. It didn’t. I know for a fact that he was not challenging me; he just did it because it was something new and exciting for him.
Anyhow, that made it impossible for me to bathe him on my own as I required an extra pair of hands to keep him from slipping and hurting himself. Now, if I can go back in time, I would do things differently. As a new parent, I realize I wasn’t consistent and affirmative enough. I should have stuck to the bathing seat until he got used to it.
If your child is older and can follow instructions, you can try some techniques with him. You can for example establish that he can only use the toys if he’s sitting down in the tub. If he stands up, the toys will be taken away. He will soon learn that if he wants to play during bath time, he can’t stand up. If he loves bath time, you can tell him that if he stands up, bath time will be over in a gentle but affirmative tone. If he doesn’t listen, take him out. You may have to repeat this message several times before it sticks, but his safety makes it worth the effort.
9 Cover the tub spout
When you place your baby in the tub, you may notice her height is fairly even with the tub spout. This presents a potentially painful and dangerous hazard. Put a soft plastic or rubber guard over the tub spout to protect your baby from accidentally bumping her head. You can either be creative and use any household item for that purpose or purchase one of those cute spouts covers. Whatever you choose, you must emphasize it’s not a toy and should not be removed.
10 Put appliances away
Electrical appliances (hairdryer, curling iron…) can present all sorts of risks including burn, electrocution, and strangulation.
First, it is better to use these appliances in another room where there is no water. Water conducts electricity. If they fall into the toilet, a filled sink or bathtub, they can cause an electric shock to the person that is in direct contact.
If you do use the electrical appliances in the bathroom, be sure to unplug them and store them in an inaccessible place when they aren’t in use (for example in a cabinet with a safety lock).
How many times does it happen that we think we turned the iron off only to find that it is still on later, and by God’s mercy only, we did not burn the whole house? So to make sure that you did turn off your blow-dryer, flat iron, curling iron, or any other appliance that creates heat, unplug it, and put it away after each use. This is the best way to ensure your baby won’t accidentally turn it on and burn herself.
This is another risk that is not to take lightly. Most of the electrical appliances come with a long cord and somehow babies always manage to wrap those cords around their neck.
So what’s the takeaway from all this ranting? Unplug your appliance and put it away.
11 Keep it clean
Keeping your bath and bath accessories clean is essential! Rinse toys, bath thermometers, and bathtub mats after use.
If your baby has bathtub toys that can trap water inside like the cute rubber ducks that squirt water, throw them out. Read about the danger of these toys here.
12 Choose the right shampoos and washes
Not all shampoos and washes are appropriate for your baby because his skin is not like yours. His skin and scalp are much more susceptible to damage, drying, and the absorption of foreign substances. The wrong product can introduce harmful substances into your baby’s body and cause his skin to dry.
For this reason, it’s very important to choose a gentle, non-toxic shampoo and wash that won’t irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.
My son has sensitive skin. We tried several shampoos and washes until we found the perfect one for him: Cetaphil Baby Wash and Shampoo with Organic Calendula. I put a link for it down below
In A Nutshell
Keep in mind these 12 tips for keeping your baby safe during bath and in the bathroom.
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