The simplest way to avoid bathroom injuries is to make this room inaccessible unless an adult accompanies your child. This may mean installing a latch on the door at an adult height so the child can’t get into the bathroom when you aren’t around. Also, be sure any lock on the door can be unlocked from the outside, just if your child locks him or herself in.
Bath time can be stressful because it happens when you’ve got many things to do at the end of the day. When too many things are happening at once, it can increase the risk of injuries. If this sounds like your situation, you could consider changing your routine to make things easier. Check out My Baby Nursery for all your baby product needs.
When to Start Tub Baths
Give your baby a sponge bath until his umbilical cord has fallen off. (If he’s been circumcised, wait until that heals, too.) After that, he’ll be ready for a baby bathtub or safe baby bath seat. Choose one that has a contoured design or an internal sling that prevents your baby from sliding.
When and How Often to Bathe Your Baby
You decide: Some newborns find the water stimulating, so it’s great to get them splashing first thing in the morning. Others mellow out in the tub, which makes it perfect right before bedtime. Your baby doesn’t need a bath every day; two or three times a week is acceptable as long as you clean his face, neck, hands, and diaper area daily.
Only Use Baby-Safe Shampoos and Soaps
Babies’ skin sensitivity is also affected by the type of soaps that come into contact with it. Adult soaps and shampoos are often too harsh on a baby’s skin and can cause drying, allergies, or rashes.
Start by giving your newborn a sponge bath or bathing them with only water. From there, you can look for soap and shampoo that is formulated especially for babies. These can usually be found in the baby section of the supermarket.
You should also avoid bubble baths, especially for little girls (the soap and bubbles can irritate the vagina), until your child is older. The soap used in bubble bath solutions can irritate the urethra in both boys and girls and potentially cause urinary tract infections (UTIs).
The Best Baby Bath Soap to Use
Use a washcloth with water and a mild baby wash. Look for products that don’t have added perfume or dyes, which can irritate sensitive skin. Work a good lather into a washcloth before you start. Cradle your newborn’s head with one arm while you bathe her with the other.
The Best Baby Shampoo to Use
If your baby’s hair seems dirty, wet it down using a damp washcloth sans soap every day—no need to bring out the tub. Once or twice a week, during his baths, use baby soap or a drop of mild, tear-free shampoo. If he’s developed a cradle cap (scaly patches that appear on the scalp), loosen the scales with a “soft-bristled” baby brush while you shampoo.
Set up Bath Time Safely
Set everything you’ll need within arm’s reach—soap, washcloth, towel, diaper, change of clothes—before you start so that you can keep one hand on your baby at all times. When you’re done bathing her, quickly wrap her up in the towel, so she doesn’t lose too much body heat. Dry her thoroughly, being sure to get into the creases before you diaper and dress her.
Bathroom Safety Basics
Drowning and scalds are the two main risks with bath time. You can avoid these risks by following the four golden rules for safe bath times:
- Always supervise babies, toddlers and children under five years in the bath. Never leave older children or siblings to handle. They don’t have the skills to see and react to an emergency.
- Check the water temperature is between 37°C and 38°C before you put your child in. Use a water thermometer or your wrist or elbow.
- Get everything ready in advance so you can stay with your child for bath time – towel, face washer, cotton wool, clean nappy and clean clothes.
- Let the water out as soon as bath time is over. About 5-10 minutes is long enough for a baby bath.
Children can drown in only a few inches of water, so never leave a young child alone in the bath, even for a moment. If you can’t ignore the doorbell or the phone, wrap your child in a towel and take him along when you go to answer them. Bath seats and rings are meant to be bathing aids and will not prevent drowning if the child is left unattended. Never leave water in the bathtub when it is not in use. It’s also essential to have anything and everything you think you’ll need within arm’s reach before getting down to business.
Your baby can drown in just an inch of water – and it only takes a second of turning your back before the worst can happen. As such, you should never leave your baby unsupervised in the bath regardless of how little water there may be or how quickly you plan to return.
Plan your baby’s bath accordingly. Keep everything you will need within reach, including soaps, toys, and towels. Don’t go searching for something you may have forgotten. Ask someone else to bring any items to you or take your baby with you if you ever need to leave the room.
If the phone rings when you expect an important call, plan to wrap your baby up in a towel to take them with you rather than leave them to answer. Better yet, just let it go to voicemail and get back to them later.
Before you put your baby in the bath, you should always have the water already in the tub at the correct depth and temperature. Putting your baby into the tub while the water is still running can be very dangerous.
Firstly, water temperature tends to fluctuate in a running tap. You can have drops that are too cold or spikes that are so hot they can quickly burn your baby’s skin. There is also a risk of overfilling the tub if you leave the water running while your baby is inside.
Another thing many parents don’t think about is the sensitivity of their baby’s ears. The sound of rushing water from the tap can be too loud and intense for a tiny baby, making the bath a frightening place rather than somewhere relaxing and fun.
Slips and Falls
Install no-slip strips on the bottom of the bathtub. Put a cushioned cover over the water faucet so your child won’t be hurt if he bumps his head against it. Get in the habit of closing the lid of the toilet, and get a toilet lid lock. A curious toddler who tries to play in the water can lose his balance and fall in.
To prevent scalding, adjust your water heater, so the hottest temperature at the faucet is no more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius). Test the water with your wrist or elbow to check that it feels warm, not hot. When your child is old enough to turn the faucets, teach him to start the cold water before the heat.
Speaking of temperature, you need to keep a close eye on your water heater and the temperature of your baby’s bathwater as their skin is more sensitive and susceptible to burns at a lower temperature than an adult’s.
It is highly advised that you lower the maximum heat on your water heater, so there is never a mistake of your baby’s bath water being too hot. Try to keep it around 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 degrees Celsius) or lower.
Before you place your baby in the bathwater, be sure to test the temperature with your wrist or the inside of your elbow. These areas are more sensitive and give you a better idea of what the water will feel like against your baby’s skin.
You can also purchase a baby-friendly bath thermometer, so there is never a question of what temperature the water is and if it’s suitable for your baby.
Medicine and Toiletry Storage
Keep all medicines in containers with safety caps. Remember, however, that these caps are child-resistant, not childproof, so store all drugs and cosmetics high and out of reach in a locked cabinet. Don’t keep toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, and other frequently used items in the same wardrobe. Instead, store them in a hard-to-reach cabinet equipped with a safety latch or locks.
If you use electrical appliances in the bathroom, particularly hairdryers and razors, be sure to unplug them and store them in a cabinet with a safety lock when they aren’t in use. It is better to use them in another room where there is no water. An electrician can install special bathroom wall sockets (ground-fault circuit interrupters) to lessen the likelihood of electrical injury when an appliance falls into the sink or bathwater. Online baby product directory at My Baby Nursery.
How to Prevent Drowning in the Bath
Drowning is one of the significant causes of death for children under five years.
Very young children are prone to drowning. This is because they’re top-heavy. They can slip into or under the water very suddenly, and they can drown in only a few centimetres of water. Also, drowning can be very quick – 20 seconds is all it takes. And young children can soak silently, without coughing or splashing, so you might not even realise they’re in danger. Constant adult supervision is the key to drowning prevention.
These tips can also improve bathroom safety:
- Beware of distractions that could take you away from the bath and make you lose track of time. Turn your mobile to silent and leave it outside the room before you run the bath.
- Run only enough water for washing and play. Belly-button height is plenty for a child who can sit up on their own.
- Watch your child all the time, even if you’re using a bath seat or cradle. A bath seat isn’t a safety device. Without your supervision, bath seats won’t keep your child safe.
- Use a non-slip bath mat in the bath if your bath doesn’t have a non-slip surface.
- Keep bathroom and laundry doors shut when you’re not using them. This will stop young children from getting to taps or water sources on their own.
- Keep plugs out of reach so that children can’t fill baths or sinks.
- Print out our illustrated guide to baby CPR and our illustrated guide to child CPR. You could display these in or near your bathroom.
- Never leave your child alone near water, even for a minute. When you and your child are in the bathroom, make sure your child is within arm’s reach and sight at all times. If you’re called away to the phone or door, wrap your child in a towel and take them with you.
Safety Tips for Bathing Your Baby
Decide where you are most comfortable bathing your baby and gather your supplies ahead of time. You will need towels, washcloths, shampoo/body wash, diapers, and clothes. Use the tips below to help keep your baby safe.
To prevent scalds, turn your water heater down to 120°F or lower.
Never Leave Your Baby Alone in a Bath
Even an inch of water can be deadly for a newborn. If you must leave the room, always take the baby with you.
Put the Water Into a Small Tub
A small tub lets you control the water temperature for the baby’s bath. When adjusting your baby’s bathwater, start with cool water and add hot water to it. Mix the water until it feels warm but not hot.
Always test the water temperature with your elbow, or drop water onto the inside part of your arm. You can also buy a thermometer made for testing bathwater.
Keep Your Baby Warm
The temperature of the room where you’re bathing your baby should be about 75°F. Keep your baby out of drafts, especially when he or she is wet—Pat, your baby, dry as soon as you’re done with the bath.
To keep your baby from getting a chill, cover the baby’s head with a fresh dry towel. You can wash your baby’s body first and then wrap him or her in a warm towel while washing the hair last.
Handle With Care
Clean only the parts of your baby that you can see. Don’t poke cotton swabs into your baby’s ears or nose.
Wait until the umbilical cord falls off before bathing your baby in a tub. Once the belly button has healed, you can get the baby’s entire stomach wet. You can sponge bathe your baby while the umbilical cord is still attached.
Invest in Child-Proofing Your Tub
The family tub isn’t created with babies in mind. It’s big, slippery, and that faucet is sharp enough to even take a gouge out of an adult’s skin. What you need to do is invest in a few products that will make your tub a bit more childproof.
- A non-slip bath mat can create a better surface grip on the floor of the tub.
- A baby bath or bath separator can be purchased to create a smaller bath space for your little to play and bathe.
- A baby-friendly spout cover can soften the sharp metal edges and make it more fun and engaging for your child.
- A bath thermometer (as previously mentioned) can help you monitor the bathwater temperature and keep your baby safe.
- If your shower/bath has sliding glass doors, make sure they are made with safety glass that will not shatter. Also, be sure to keep shower curtains out of your child’s reach while they are bathing.
How to Prevent Burns and Scalds in the Bathroom
Young children have susceptible skin, which means that bathwater that’s too hot can quickly scald them. The safe temperature for a child’s bath is between 37°C and 38°C, whereas grown-ups tend to bathe in water between 41°C and 42°C.
The best way to prevent burns or scalds in the bathroom is to ensure that hot water is delivered to your basin, bath or shower at a maximum temperature of 50°C. But this isn’t a bathing temperature. You still need to mix cold water with hot water to get the proper bathing temperature.
This means it’s also essential to test the bath temperature with a water thermometer or with your wrist and elbow. The weather should be comfortably warm but not hot. If your skin flushes when you put your elbow in, the water is too hot for a child’s skin.
These tips can also help you prevent bathroom burns and scalds:
- Please keep your child well away from the bath until it’s a safe temperature.
- Always run cold water first. Never fill a bath with hot water first. Your child could put their hand or foot in the water and be scalded. Swirl the water in the tub so there are no hot and cold spots.
- If you have a mixer tap, run the hot and cold water together. Increase the temperature by adding more warm water, not straight hot water. If you run hot water by itself, your child might put a hand or foot in the stream and be burned.
- If you have a mixer tap, point the lever towards the cold setting when you’ve finished running the bath. Make sure your child can’t get to the lever.
- Make sure the hot water tap is turned off hard. When the bath is ready, briefly run cold water through the faucet so water in the tap won’t burn anyone.
- Consider buying anti-scald devices for your home. You can ask a licensed plumber to recommend devices that keep hot water at a safe temperature.
- Never leave your child in the care of an older child who might be able to turn on the hot water tap.
- Never leave your child alone in the bath or the bathroom. Your child could quickly turn on the hot water tap and not be able to turn it off.
- Basic first aid for burns and scalds involves cooling the burned area under running water for 20 minutes. You can print out our illustrated guide to first aid for burns and scalds for quick and easy reference in an emergency.
Practice Safe Bath Time Habits
A safe bath should not only be a closely monitored and protective one, but it should also be a time to instil good habits in your child as they will eventually begin to spend time alone in the tub in the future.
- Teach your child to sit in the tub at all times, even if you have a non-slip mat installed.
- Keep all electrical appliances and hair tools far away from the tub and out of reach.
- Allow playtime at the beginning of the bath so your child isn’t sitting in soapy water that can irritate the skin.
- Only bathe your little one a couple of times per week as frequent baths can dry out the skin.
- Fill the tub with water no higher than your child’s waist when sitting (about 2 to 4 inches).
- Keep the room relatively warm (about 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 25 degrees Celsius) to prevent your child from getting too cold while sitting in the bath.
- Have clothes and diapers already selected and laid out so you can quickly dress your child after their bath to prevent them from becoming too cold?
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By following these simple bath practices with your little one, you can make bath time safe and fun for both of you. It can become an excellent bonding and playtime for parent and baby without worrying about any injury befalling your child.