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Bath Time Safety

Bath time can be great fun for your toddler. However, it also poses two major risks: burns and drowning. It is extremely important to always take this seriously and supervise your little one when they are in the bath.

Burns and Scalds

Young children have sensitive skin which means they can be burnt or scalded very quickly if the water temperature of the bath is too hot. Water at 60°C can take just seconds to give a child a third degree burn. Toddlers between one and two years of age are at a higher risk of burns and scalds due to their natural curiosity and increased mobility.

Here are some pointers to keep bath time fun:

  • Set your home hot water system to 50°C. The average household temperature is 70°C. If unable to adjust the temperature, purchase an anti-scald safety device from a plumbing store and attach to the bath tub to slow the hot water flow
  • Run water from the cold tap before the hot when filling the bath. Once the bath is full, always turn off the hot tap first then the cold to avoid the water becoming too hot
  • Check the temperature of the bath water with a thermometer before putting your toddler in. Make sure it is between 37-38°C
  • Move the water around in the bath using your hand or elbow to ensure it’s an even temperature
  • If you have a mixer tap and need to make bath warmer add more warm water, never just hot
  • Never leave an older child to supervise your toddler or leave your toddler alone in the bath as they could turn the hot tap on. If you need to leave the bathroom always take your child with you.


Young children are also at a higher risk of drowning and it can happen in a split second. They are top heavy so they can slip under water easily and drown in just a few centimetres of water.

Following these tips can help reduce the risk for your toddler:

  • Get everything ready before you put your toddler in the bath; such as a washer, cotton wool, a towel
  • Fill the bath with just enough water for washing and playing. Around 8cm or to belly button height is plenty of water for a toddler who can sit up
  • Never leave your toddler unattended in the bath. If you need to answer the door or phone take your toddler with you
  • Always empty the bath immediately after you’ve finished bath time
  • Keep the bathroom door shut when it’s not in use.

When you have so many things on your mind, finding the time to give your toddler a bath with undivided attention can be stressful. This stress can increase risks so it might be a good idea to change your routine. For example, change bath time to the morning instead of night time. If on occasion you can’t give your toddler your full attention for a bath, it is okay to give them a wipe instead.

For more information on keeping your toddler safe in the bathroom see Preventing Falls at Home.

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