Baby and toddler safety
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Katrina Phillips
Baby proofing and Child Safety Expert. Chief Executive of the Child Accident Prevention Trust.
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Bath safety

The two main risks involved in bathing a baby or toddler are scalding and drowning. Both are easy to prevent.
Video Tutorial
In Short
Always run the cold water first and then add the cold. Then there's never very hot water sitting around.

It is never safe to leave babies or toddlers unsupervised in baths - even if it's just for a moment, and even if they're propped up in a bath seat.

Risks for babies in baths
  • Babies are in danger from drowning and scalding in a bath.
  • Babies are more vulnerable to scalding than adults.

When you are bathing your baby, it’s really important to put the cold water in first and THEN add the hot water until you get the right temperature. That way there will never be a bath full of very hot water which is a huge safety risk.

Babies have a larger surface area to volume ratio than adults and are more vulnerable to scalding as their skin is 5 times thinner than an adult’s.


How do I test the bath temperature?

You can test the temperature of the bath by either using your elbow or the inside of your wrist, or you can use a specially designed baby thermometer that floats in your baby’s bath. Bath thermometers are available at most nursery stores.

Body temperature, or 37 degrees, is about the right temperature for the bath water. It can be lower than that, but no warmer. It will feel probably a bit cool to the baths you prefer but it’s important to remember that babies are less able to regulate their own body temperature and have a larger skin surface area.

If you have a bath with your baby it needs to be at their safe temperature, not your preferred temperature.

Is it safe to leave my baby alone in their bath seat?

It is never safe to leave your baby alone in the bath, even for a second. Even if you’re using a bath seat that holds the baby upright because they can slip down into the water and drown. Babies won’t cry out for you to help them because they won’t realise that they’re in danger. So even though you might think I’m just going to nip out for a moment to get a dry towel, or answer the phone, babies can drown immediately and very silently.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.