Kids Health Info

Bath safety

  • Bath time is an essential part of caring for a child and is often part of the daily routine. However, there are a number of bathroom hazards, including risk of drowning, risk of scalds, electrical appliances and potential poison. 

    Bath time

    Always supervise babies, toddlers and children under five years in the bath. It’s a good idea to get everything ready in advance (eg towels, clean clothes, nappies) so you can stay with your child. Empty the bath immediately after use.

    • Stay within arms’ reach of your child, even when using a bath seat or cradle – a bath seat on its own won’t keep your child safe.
    • Don’t leave older siblings to supervise as they may not recognise when a small child is in danger, or react as quickly as adult supervisors.
    • Run only enough water for washing and play – belly-button height is plenty for a child who can sit up on their own.
    • Ignore all distractions that could take your attention away from your child, such as a phone call or the doorbell. If you have a busy schedule, wait until another adult is around to help.
    • Keep bathroom and laundry doors shut when you’re not using them so young children can’t get to taps or water sources on their own.

    Preventing burns and scalds

    Young children have very sensitive skin, which means that hot water can scald them very quickly. A safe temperature for a child’s bath is between 37°C and 38°C (but about 36°C for a newborn). Check the water temperature with your wrist or elbow – it should be comfortably warm, and not hot. You might even want to get a water thermometer. 

    To prevent burns and scalds, ensure the hot water delivered to the bath or shower is a maximum of 50°C.

    • Never fill a bath with just hot water. Always mix cold water in with the hot water to get the appropriate bathing temperature.
    • Keep your child away from the bath until the water is the right temperature.
    • Run cold water through the tap when the bath is ready to prevent children from getting a burn or scald from the tap or spout.

    Other bathroom hazards

    • Close the toilet lid after use and install a toilet-lid lock to prevent toddlers playing with it.
    • Keep medicines in original containers, preferably with child-resistant caps, and locked away in a cabinet out of reach (at least 1.5m high).
    • If you don’t already have one in your home, have an electrician install a safety switch that can reduce the likelihood of electrical injury if an appliance does fall into the sink or bathwater.

    Key points to remember

    • Always actively supervise babies, toddlers and children under five years in the bath – never leave a child alone in the bath and never leave older children or siblings to supervise.
    • Let the water out as soon as bath time is over.
    • The best way to prevent scalds in the bathroom is to reduce the temperature of the hot water tap at the basin, bath and shower to 50°C. 

    More information

     


    Developed by Community Information in consultation with Life Saving Victoria. First published 2017.

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Disclaimer
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professionals. The authors of these consumer health information handouts have made a considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. The Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen detailed in these handouts. Information contained in the handouts is updated regularly and therefore you should always check you are referring to the most recent version of the handout. The onus is on you, the user, to ensure that you have downloaded the most up-to-date version of a consumer health information handout.