We all love bath time! The kids enjoy bubbles, toys, and a little one-on-one time with mom or dad. Parents start to daydream about the fast approaching quiet time, the hour or two after the kids go to bed, where we get to put up our feet and indulge in a Bravo reality series. Although a lot of fun, bath time is actually one of the most dangerous times of the day and the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. January is National Bath Safety Month. As a pediatrician, I love any opportunity to discuss safety risks and important tips. So let’s go over some of the common dangers that lurk in the bathtub and some tips to keep your child safe and smiling.
Burns. Pediatricians treat many burns from hot water run during bath time. The American Board of Pediatrics recommends setting the thermostat on your hot water heater to below 120 degrees F (48.9 C). This helps serve as a safeguard against scalding burns. Please remember that infants and toddlers are adventurous, fast, and attracted to shinny knobs. Make sure to always test the water temperature before your child gets in the tub. Aim for bath water around 100 degrees F (38 C). Also, wash your child on the far end of the bathtub. This will decrease the chance of your child playing with the knobs and adjusting the temperature.
Bumps and Bruises. In the pediatric ER, we see a surge of patient visits during and after normal evening bath time. The combination of slippery surfaces and wet feet can be extremely dangerous. We treat a lot of broken bones and deep cuts requiring stitches due to slip and fall accidents. It is important that you supervise your child at all times. Always make sure to help them out of the bathtub and dry off the bottom of their feet. We all want our children to develop independent skills, but bath time requires close supervision and guidance.
Drownings. Drownings are amongst the most dangerous and devastating accidents that we see as a result of bath time. There is not a text message or phone call that is worth the safety of your child. Never leave your infant or toddler unsupervised in the bath, even if it is for minutes. A drowning can occur very quickly and in less than 1 inch of water. Do not rely on a sibling to supervise your infant. If you have to answer the door, wrap your child in a towel and bring him or her with you. Even if your toddler knows how to swim, they should never be left unattended. Small toddlers can slip, hit their head, and drown. Please treat a bathtub the same way you treat a swimming pool. Finally, make sure to drain the water after you are done using the tub. I know we can get caught up in putting on PJs and getting bottles ready, but an unsupervised body of water is a huge drowning risk.
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