By Mary Beth Gibson
January is Bath Safety Month, so what better time to refresh our memories on basic safety precautions when giving infants and young children a bath? Whether you bathe your children multiple times a day (hello, springtime mud) or barely once a week, it has to happen at some point. Bath time is such an easy time to zone out as a parent, and it’s tempting to catch up on social media or run around and straighten a couple rooms while they soak off the grime and crumbs a funky toddler stink. They’re splashing happily and creating their own worlds with their favorite bath toys, so what harm could it be, right? Unfortunately, a lot of things we as parents wish to do during bath time aren’t the safest for our children; however, if you’re the type of parent who feels unproductive during bath time, here are some great ideas along with the safety guidelines.
Supervise Your Child Closely
You’re going to hear this over and over again anytime you read something about infant safety. This doesn’t make it any less important or true. A child can drown in an inch of water. Bath seats and bath chairs do not prevent accidental drowning. Never leave your child unattended in the bath, even for a moment. Every toddler parent knows it only takes about 5 seconds for our children to completely upend everything. You also want to make sure you drain the tub immediately after your child is done. Be sure you know what you’ll need for bath time and have it ready before you start the water. No one wants a wailing child because a beloved toy got left in a bedroom and never made it into the bath.
Bring Your Work with You
Some parents are content to sit with their children and focus solely on bath time. More power to those parents, y’all. If anyone is like me, however, bath time is usually 10-20 minutes of just sitting while chores upon chores remain undone around the house. Now, obviously, some things can’t come with you into the bathroom, so you’ll just have to leave the dishes and the mess in the living room for now. Depending on how brave you are you can always bring some laundry or some paperwork into the bathroom, but some great work to accomplish during bath time is . . . cleaning the bathroom! It’s entirely too easy to check out while on the phone, but polishing a mirror or scrubbing a toilet leaves just enough brain space open to supervise children.
Set the Stage for Safety
Slips and falls happen. Hot water hurts. Ensure that bath seats or infant tubs are used correctly to prevent falls. Put a non-slip mat down in the bottom of the tub and consider a soft cover for the faucet if it has sharp edges. Keep the toilet lid closed, and store toiletries and cleaning supplies out of reach. Set your water temperature at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Keep all electric appliances unplugged and stored in drawers or cabinets. Use a bath mat that won’t slip on the floor when your child gets out of the bath tub. Store any medications in child-resistant containers and keep them closed away and out of reach.
Use Bath Time for Learning
Save relaxing baths by candlelight as a treat for adults. Adequate lighting is important for safety, of course, and relaxation is a concept lost on most toddlers. Utilize your child’s natural desire to play in the water to encourage learning. Sing songs together. Describe their toys and the things around them. Talk about what you’re doing and what their body parts are called. Use a little cup to practice skills like scooping and pouring. Bath time is an excellent opportunity to practice any number of new skills and impart new knowledge in a completely organic and natural way.
With these suggestions as a guide, hopefully bath time will remain accident-free, safe, productive, and enjoyable for every member of the family!
For more bath safety tips-check out this article: https://www.sleepingbaby.com/blogs/news/splish-splash-bath-safety-for-babies-and-toddlers
Mary Beth Gibson graduated from Wichita State University in 2007 with a BA in Creative Writing and blogs at Bright Sycamore. She enjoys most things natural, but with a healthy dose of practicality and affordability. You can most likely find her at Target chasing her toddler with a baby strapped to her chest. She lives in Kansas with her husband and her two children, ages 3 and 10 months.