Dream Ellison is celebrating National Bath Safety Month! Bath time is a wonderful moment for a baby to learn their parents’ touch. Bath time is also an opportunity to check an infant’s skin for rashes, healing of the umbilical area, and their overall appearance. For new parents, a simple list of items you will likely need to make bath time a success are changing pad; baby bath towel; baby soap; baby shampoo; diapers; clean clothes (i.e. pajamas); wash cloth; and rinse cup.
National Bath Safety Month is a great time to think about bath safety for everyone in your family and learn about extra precautions you can take for the youngest members of our household. To reduce injuries, there are strong recommendations parents should follow if they own an infant tub. When using an infant tub bath, set the bath tub on a sturdy surface. The surface should also be level. After the infant tub is setup and in place, fill the bath with enough warm water to cover/reach the baby’s shoulders. Cut the water off before setting your baby in the tub. Keep water around 100° Fahrenheit (F) or 37.8° Celsius (C); it should feel warm, not hot. Parents should remember young children have thinner skin resulting in deeper burns than adults for the same temperature and exposure time to a scalding substance.Use your inner arm to feel the water and determine if it is comfortable. After bath, dry and dress the baby quickly to avoid chill.
Other bath time safety tips for infants to keep in mind include:
1. Supervise your child and do not leave them unattended. Drowning is a serious risk and parents should keep children in sight at all times during bath time. Babies should always be kept within arm’s reach.
2. Children are sensitive to temperature. Ensure water is not too hot before starting bath time. Bathtub thermometers are available to measure water temperatures and provide precise temperature readings.
3. Bath chairs are not recommended if your child cannot sit up unassisted. Additionally, bath seats may give parents a false sense of security. Be cautious that children can tip forward or sideways in the water if the suction cups become detached from the tub.
4. Your baby’s umbilical cord will likely fall off 1 to 2 weeks after they are born. Give your baby sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off. After the umbilical cord falls off or a circumcision heals, you can use a sink or baby tub. Please note: If you prefer tub baths, we recommend checking with the healthcare provider caring for your baby since some healthcare providers do not feel a tub bath increases the risk of infection while skin is healing.
Bath time safety tips for older children include:
1. Teach your child bath time safety rules. A best practice is to stay seated during the bath. Hold a grab bar or your parent’s hand when standing up.
2. Babyproof the tub. Invest in a spout cover and/or padding.
3. Don’t touch the water handles. The will reduce the chance of an accidental scalding. Hot water can scald children at 120° Fahrenheit (F) or 48.9° Celsius (C).
4. While teaching your child to sit (not stand) in the tub, consider introducing new bath toys or alternating existing bath toys. This may be enough to keep your little one sitting down.
5. Follow the infant bath tub manufacturer’s recommendation for maximum fill levels. For full size tubs, we recommend that you fill the bath with water no more than waist high (in a sitting position).
6. Use a non-slip bathmat in the bath if your bath does not have a non-slip surface.
7. Turn the water off before putting the infant in the tub. This will prevent the water from becoming too deep.
Bath time safety tips for children of all ages include:
1. Keep the room warm so your child does not get cold.
2. Bathe your child quickly to avoid chilling.
3. Minimize Distractions. Just like chefs practice mise en place before preparing a meal, parents have to plan ahead to avoid distractions during bath time. Get everything ready in advance so you can stay with your child for bath time – towel, washcloth, clean clothes. If you think your cell phone might distract you, consider turning your phone to silent and leaving it in a safe space out of reach/sight of little ones or their siblings. Beware of any other distractions that could take you away from the bath or make you lose track of time.
4. Let the water out as soon as bath time is over.
Other safety tips parents should consider include:
1. Learn First Aid. If you don’t have time to take a course, consider a visit to a local fire department whenever they have an open house. During open house, some fire departments have on-site CPR Manikins (adult and infant), provide on the spot instructions on how to perform CPR, and allow you to practice doing chest compressions.
2. Perform a deep clean of bath time tools. Similar to establishing a schedule for the cleaning of potty training tools, we recommend cleaning bath time tools periodically. If you have a house cleaning service on a regular schedule, this can serve as a reminder to do a deep clean on bath time items. If you perform all the cleaning around the household, remember to deep clean the children’s bath time tools when cleaning the bathroom.