Pediatrician-approved: Bath safety tips for infants & toddlers

By Molly O’Shea

It’s always a wise time for parents to brush up on a few safety tips to keep their children protected in the bathtub. The following are pediatrician-approved bath safety tips for infants and toddlers.

  1. Supervision: Children can drown in as little as two inches of water, so never leave a young child alone in the bath, even for a moment. Bath seats and rings are meant to be bathing aids and will not prevent drowning if the child is left unattended. Also be sure to never leave water in the bathtub when it is not in use – drain immediately after bath time.
  2. Don’t overfill the tub: For the little ones who are just learning to sit up and are still getting used to their own coordination, there’s no need to fill the tub with water up to their necks. Put enough water in to be about belly button level. This way, should a reach for a bath toy turn into a slight tumble, there’s less worry about being submerged, and getting back upright is quicker and easier.
  3. Use anti-slip grips & safety gadgets: Make bath time more fun – and safe – by adding colorful rubber non-slip grip adhesives to your tub. You might also consider installing a non-permanent grab bar for your little one to hold onto as he or she grows, to make the transition in and out of the tub trip-free. To protect your child’s head, put a cushioned cover over the water faucet so there won’t be any injuries following a bump or scratch. Finally, get in the habit of closing the lid of the toilet, and get a toilet lid lock. A curious top-heavy toddler who tries to play in the water can lose balance and fall in.
  4. Don’t shy away from splashing – explore the water: The best way to start getting your child comfortable in and around the water is during bath time. Perhaps one of the oddest things to get used to is unexpected splashes, but it can do wonders to get your child acclimated to the water. Teach your child to mimic your splashing. You can also try gently pouring water down the back of your infant’s head while in the tub or take them in the shower with you to get used to the idea of water in their face.
  5. Practice submerging in a controlled environment: Helping your baby feel comfortable while submerged in the water can help immensely to prepare them for swim lessons, which can reduce the risk of childhood drownings by 88%. Start by holding your baby on your chest while you slowly pour water over their backs and legs with a cup, and as they get used to the sensation, you can flip them onto their back as you support their head, neck and lower back so they get used to having their head and ears under water.

Dr. Molly O’Shea is an American Academy of Pediatrics journal editor, water safety and drowning prevention advocate, and official pediatrician of Goldfish Swim School.

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