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Q&A with Dr. Justin Morgan: Bathroom safety tips for babies

Bundoo Expert

Dr. Justin Morgan
Bundoo Pediatrician

Justin Morgan, MD, FAAP, is a board-certified pediatrician who practices general pediatrics in Louisville, Kentucky. He cares for children of all ages.

As your baby gets older, the crawling, grabbing, and curiosity only increase, especially during bath time. How much babyproofing should you be doing to your bathroom as your child hits the 8-month mark? Dr. Justin Morgan outlines some best practices.

Bundoo: A 33-week-old baby might be able to sit up, “commando” crawl across the floor, and roll over. As baby gets more mobile, babyproofing becomes more important, and the bathroom has lots of potential problem areas. What do you recommend parents do to make their bathrooms safer?

Dr. Justin Morgan: The most important rule is never leave a baby unattended in a bathroom, even if only for a moment. Drowning can occur even in an inch or two of water. Checking the water temperature is very important. Keep the door to the bathroom closed when not in use. Bathrooms should never be considered a “safe zone” within the house. Make sure the bathroom is warm, and have a hooded towel ready for when baby is done in the bath.

Around this age, many families are transitioning from the infant or baby tub to a bigger tub. What safety tools can parents use to make bathing a safer experience for their babies?

Check the water temperature by testing it on your wrist or your elbow. If you’re not sure, it’s better for it to be a little bit cooler than too hot. Scalding can occur quickly. Keep your hot water heater’s temperature max set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. By default, many manufacturers (and housing complexes) set the water temperature much higher. Wait until the water has filled the tub (and don’t place the baby in a tub with running water). Babies only need 2 to 4 inches of water. A rubber bathmat can help keep the baby from sliding or slipping in the tub. There are also cushioned spout covers, which can help prevent head injuries. Don’t allow your baby to ever touch the faucet handles. Reinforce this notion each time the baby starts to get curious. Keep electric appliances (i.e. hair dryers and curling irons) away from the tub. Better yet, unplug them!

What toys are safe for use in the bathtub?

Bath toys should be BPA, PVC, and phthalate-free. Squirting bath toys tend to collect bacteria within them and easily produce mold spores. Make sure the toys can be cleaned. You may be able to plug the holes with a hot glue gun. One part hot water, one part vinegar, and one part dish soap can be used to clean toys weekly. Diluted bleach is another option to definitively kill mold. Fortunately, many toys are dishwasher safe.

It’s too early to consider toilet training, but is there anything parents can do regarding toilets at this age to lay the groundwork for successful potty training later?

The biggest toilet concern is keeping the child out of the toilet! A toilet lock/guard is a great addition to any bathroom to keep curious hands out. Infants may be curious about their parents’ bowel routines but generally are not ready (intellectually or even physically) to begin toilet training until toddler age.

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