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Bath time can be a fun, special time to share with your baby. It's also a time for extreme caution, though. Keep these bathing tips in mind to keep your little one safe while he gets squeaky clean:
- The first and most important rule is this: Never, ever leave your baby unsupervised, even for a minute. Children can drown in less than an inch of water. Gather all of the supplies (soap, towel, etc.) you'll need ahead of time. And if the doorbell peals or the phone rings, and you feel you must answer it, scoop your baby up in a towel and take him with you.
- Make sure the bathroom is comfortably warm (around 75 degrees F). Babies can get chilled quickly.
- Don't put your baby into a tub when the water is still running (the water temperature could change or the water could get too deep).
- Make the family tub safe: Bathtubs are incredibly slippery, so outfit yours with a rubber bath mat for more secure seating. A cushioned spout cover can protect your baby's head from painful bumps. Also, be sure that any sliding glass shower doors are made from safety glass.
- Make the bath water comfortably warm (90 to 100 degrees F). Babies and toddlers generally prefer a much cooler tub than you probably do.
- Fill the tub with only 2 to 3 inches of water for babies up to 6 months old and never more than waist-high (in sitting position) for older children.
- For kids who can sit up, a bath ring suction-cupped to the bottom of the tub may provide you with an extra "hand." But don't let it give you a false sense of security — it's no substitute for keeping your eye on your baby at all times.
- Teach your baby to sit (not stand) in the tub.
- Soaps, shampoos, and bubble baths can dry your baby's skin and may cause rashes, so use them sparingly. They may also be irritating to the urethra, which in turn might increase the risk of urinary tract infections. To avoid having your baby sit too long in potentially irritating soap-filled water, have playtime at the beginning of the bath and save the soap and shampoo for the end.
- Set your water heater to 120 degrees F. It takes just two seconds for a child to receive third-degree burns from water that is 150 degrees, and five seconds if it is 140 degrees, the temperatures at which hot water heaters often leave the factory.
- Don't allow your child to touch the faucet handles. Even if he can't move them now, he'll be strong enough to do so eventually — and that could lead to serious injury. (You might try putting your baby in the tub with his back to the faucets.)
- Keep electric appliances (like hair dryers and curling irons) away from the tub.