How to give baby a bath safely

babybathFollow these safety tips every time you give your baby a bath.

  • Never leave your baby unattended during bath time, not even for a second, even when you’re just filling the tub with water. Plan ahead; make sure you have everything on hand before you start the bath. You don’t want to dash off for a washcloth or towel while your baby is in the tub. If he can’t sit up on his own yet, always keep a hand on him at bath time. And don’t pick up the bathtub once the baby is in it.
  • To play it safe, stay within arm’s reach of your child whenever he’s around water, even when he’s in a standard or toddler tub.
  • 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 won’t allow it to slip and makes it easy for you to handle your child. 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. If you’re using an infant tub inside your bathtub, make sure the drain is open.
  • Be careful to avoid scalding water. The water should feel warm, not hot. Before you put your baby into the tub, test the temperature with your forearm. 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 readout, baby bathwater should be between 90 degrees and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. But again, use your forearm 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 for you. If your phone rings, let 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 a sink or 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 and come 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 get really clean, while sponges have to air dry and can harbor harmful bacteria.
  • Always empty the bathtub immediately after bath time. A baby or child can drown in less than an inch of water. And curious toddlers might go back in the bathroom when you aren’t looking.
  • When your baby graduates to a regular bathtub, attach rubber strips to the bottom to prevent slipping. Or use a bath mat that can be secured to the bottom of the tub with suction cups, and check that it is securely attached before you put the baby in. Keep in mind the underside of these mats can stay damp, attracting mold and mildew, so you should take the mat out and scrub it thoroughly each time you clean the bathtub.
  • Remind your partner, your baby’s grandparents, and any other caregivers about these safety tips. Better yet, if they’re new to bath time, ask them not to give your baby a bath while you’re away, if possible. They can always use baby wipes and washcloths to handle any mess.


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