Baby Bath Seat Safety Tips
There are many bath products on the market that are designed to assist parents of newborns and toddlers with bath time. Once a baby can sit up unassisted — typically sometime after four months of age — bath seats help keep squirmy kids in place while parents bathe them. Baby bath seats, along with portable newborn baths, are popular gifts recieved by new parents. While these are very useful products, they should not take the place of a parent's close supervision. Bath seat safety should be observed at all times by caregivers.
Also known as a bath ring, a bath seat is typically a simple, plastic seat that encircles the sitting child in the bath tub. The circle includes armrests on the side, and a backrest. There is a bar or strap between the baby’s legs that keeps him or her from sliding out, and the bath seat is attached to the tub with suction cups, or an arm that attaches over the side of the tub. Some bath seats include attached toys that are designed for water play to entertain the baby while the parent bathes him.
Bath seats and rings are not designed to keep the baby safe while bathing, but rather, to provide the parent an extra “hand” in keeping the baby in one place in the bathtub. Bath seat safety has become a controversial topic — many consumer groups have voiced strident opposition to bath seats due to many accidents that have been attributed to the use of these products. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that in the US from 1983 to 2002, 96 children have drowned and an additional 153 accidents (non-fatal) have been attributed to bath seats.
Bath seats can be dangerous in several ways. Older types of bath seats were prone to tipping over due to ineffective suction cups. Others had leg holes that were too large, allowing babies to slip out under the front bar and under the water. Babies can either become trapped by the seat underwater, or is not able to sit up on his or her own. Children who can stand on their own may be capable of getting out of a bath seat, even if it remains secured to the tub.
In addition to the design flaws of previous bath seats, studies showed that parents who used the seats did not observe bath seat safety. It was shown that they were more likely to leave their child unattended because they were given a false sense of security because their child "seemed" safe in the seat. Additionally, they filled the tub with more water than they typically would, putting their child at higher risk for drowning.
For safety purposes, parents shopping for bath seats should consider newer designs that attach to the side of the bathtub, and have smaller leg holes. Avoid using used or older bath seats in case of recall, or a defective design. If purchasing a bath seat that attaches to the side of your tub, measure your bathtub to be sure that it will fit the bath seat before you purchase one. Install an inexpensive rubber mat on the bottom of your tub to avoid slipping, and teach your child to sit in the tub. Since children can drown in as little as one inch (2.5 cm) of water, don't overfill the tub when using a bath seat. Observe any bath seat safety instructions by the manufacturer, and install it correctly. Above all, never leave your child unattended while in the bathtub — do not trust the bath seat to keep your child safe.
Bath seats and rings are available at most stores that carry baby products for about $15 to $25 US Dollars.
Written by O. Wallace
Related Home Institute Articles