Baby bathtub tips and safety strategies

Consumer Reports News: October 05, 2009 04:27 PM

In addition to not buying a bath seat, follow these bathtub safety tips every time you give your baby a bath:

• Never leave your baby unattended during bath time, even for a second, even when you’re just filling the tub with water. To play it safe, stay within arm’s reach of your child when he’s around water, whether he’s in an adult or toddler tub. If your baby can’t sit up on his own yet, always keep a hand on him at bath time, too. Plan ahead. Make sure you have everything on hand before you start the bath. You don’t want to have to scurry off for a washcloth or towel while your baby is in the tub.
When bathing your baby, fill the tub with as little water as possible. Two inches is a good amount. Place the baby bathtub on a flat, level surface that doesn’t allow it to slip and makes it easy for you to handle your baby. Don’t add more water while your baby is in the tub, and never put the baby bathtub in a larger tub that is filled with water because it can float around and tip.
Be careful about scalding water. The water should feel warm, not hot. Before you put your baby in the tub, test the temperature with your elbow. Don’t rely on a tub with a temperature indicator, such as a drain plug that changes color to indicate too hot, too cold, and just right. If you’re using a thermometer with a read-out, baby bath water should be between 90°F and 100°F. But again, use your elbow as your main guide.
If you need to leave the bathroom, take your baby with you. Don’t rely on older children to watch the baby or you. If the phone rings, let the answerer get it. If there’s a knock on the door, ignore it. Make that rule as stringent as strapping your baby into her car seat every time you drive.
When using a baby bathtub in the sink or in a regular tub, always turn the hot water off first and watch out for hot metal spigots. Get a cover for the bathtub’s spout to protect your child from its heat-conducting metal and hard edges. Some covers are soft plastic in the shape of an animal. Others are inflatable plastic. Swoosh tub water around with your hand so that any hot spots even out. To play it safe, reduce the setting of your hot-water heater to 120° F. An infant’s skin burns much more easily than an adult’s.
Use washcloths instead of sponges. Either one will end up in your baby’s mouth, but washcloths are safer because tiny pieces of sponge can easily break off and become a choking hazard. And washcloths can go through a washer and dryer so they can get really clean, while sponges have to air dry and can harbor harmful bacteria.
Always empty the bathtub immediately after bath time. Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water.
When your baby graduates to a regular bathtub, attach rubber strips to the bottom of the tub to prevent slipping.
Remind caregivers, your partner, and your baby’s grandparents about these safety tips. Better yet, if they’re new to bath time, tell them not to give your baby a bath while you’re away, if possible.

What are some safety strategies you use (and recommend) when bathing baby? Let us know in Comments.

Learn about more baby safety tips in the Consumer Reports Best Baby Products guide, also available in stores nationwide. And see more tips for bathtime safety, as well as crib Ratings and infant car seat Ratings, for more information.


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