You’ve done everything possible to babyproof your house: crawled around on the floor to look for dangers, plugged all the sockets, put cushions on sharp corners, and gated off dangerous areas.
But when it comes to the bathroom—a room full of tempting dangers for your baby or toddler—your own two eyes and a closed door are among the best defenses against injury.
Each year, about 43,000 children suffer injuries in the bathtub, making it the most common household location for injury and the leading location of nonpool drowning or near-drowning, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Over half of all injuries that occur in the bathtub or shower happen to children under 5, and children under 2 suffer the most injuries. The most common injuries are cuts and bruises caused by slip-and-falls, and head injuries. In addition, hot water scalding was the most common and most severe type of burn for children under 5.
Children under 6 should be watched at all times while in the bathtub, and non-adult siblings should not be tasked with watching them.
Remember that a child can drown in only a few inches of water. The bathtub should be completely emptied of water when not in use. Make sure the tub is empty before leaving the bathroom.
Children have also been known to climb into the toilet. To help prevent this, lock down the toilet seat with a lid lock—but don’t rely on the lid lock to prevent an accident; the door to the bathroom should be kept closed as an extra layer of protection.
To prevent falls, use a non-skid decal or rubber mat inside the tub. Make sure the floor in the bathtub and the bathroom are dry, and instruct your child not to run in a bathroom. Make sure his or her feet are dry as well.
A baby bath seat is convenient for parents but it is not a safety device. They do not prevent drowning. A watchful adult is the best defense against injury.
To prevent burns, cover the spout. Prevent your child from being able to reach the spout by keeping stools, chairs or anything else that your little one can climb out of reach (and remember that toddlers can be persistent climbers, even as young as two to three years old).
Lower the hot water heater temperature to below 120 degrees F, or install an anti-scalding valve that keeps water under 120 degrees F.
Take an inventory of all other items that can cause injury and keep them out of reach. Such items include razors, hair dryers and curling irons. Anything a curious child might consume (cleaning products, medicines, make-up, toothpaste etc.) should be locked away. Medication should have childproof caps on them.
Write down the rules of the bathroom and make sure other caretakers (grandparents, friends, babysitters, etc.) know and follow your guidelines.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, March 2020
- Never leave children alone in a bathtub, even for a minute.
- Lower your hot water heater’s temperature to 120 or less to prevent scalding.
- Consider gating off the bathroom completely.
- Keep all medications, mouthwashes and make-up up and out of reach of toddlers and children.