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Whether bath time is filled with delight or dread for your child, your presence alone during the bath is the number one rule of bathtub safety. Until your child is somewhere around the age of six, never leave him/her unattended or under the supervision of a sibling younger than junior high school in the bathtub. There is nothing important enough to risk drowning, and when it comes to bathtubs, the potential is real.
To avoid burning your child with water that is too hot, fill the tub before your child gets in and make sure that the water is a comfortable temperature. If you need to add more water while s/he's in the tub, position him/her well away from the faucet, check the temperature of the bath frequently, and always turn off the hot water before the cold if there are separate controls. When s/he is very young, teach your child a basic tub safety rule that she is not allowed to touch the faucet handles; as she gets older, teach her how to control the hot and cold water.
Here is a simple way to avoid accidental burns or bruises in the bath. Purchase a faucet guard. Essentially a soft, insulated cover which is placed over the bathtub faucet is a prudent safeguard. They are available at many baby supply stores. And even better, many of them come in the form of engaging rubber animals to add to bath-time fun.
Along with purchasing standard bath tub safety products, use common sense at baby's bath time. Keep electrical devices like hair dryers, curling irons, and electric razors well away from the tub. Also, make sure that if there are any outlets near the tub that they are the type that meet safety standards to protect them from water. Something as simple as a slippery floor can cause a great deal of damage! Be sure to use (and teach your child to use) extra caution.
Bath seats and safety tubs are great inventions for kids at bath time. Many models adhere to the bottom of the tub with suction cups and offer bathing infants and toddlers support while sitting. Be careful, though; using a bath seat or safety tub is not an excuse to leave your child unattended. The suction cups can come loose, and children can slip right out of the seats. Also, you can prevent bathtub falls by placing a rubber mat in the tub or affixing non-slip adhesive decals or strips to the bottom of the tub. They are readily available at hardware or baby-supplies stores and come in a variety of colors and designs.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|