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Child-Proofing the Bathroom

Read tips on how to make your bathroom safe for your toddler or new baby.

Child-Proofing the Bathroom

Gadget Guide

Did you know that young children can drown in just an inch of water? Toddlers' large heads make them top heavy; if they fall into a toilet, they may not be able to get out. The safest course is to install a toilet lid latch. If you use a diaper pail to soak cloth diapers, make sure it's latched, too.

Just think about what's behind that bathroom door! We don't know exactly what's in your bathroom, but we bet there's enough potential trouble there to warrant a door latch that will keep your toddler from wandering in on his own. Install a latch or hook well above his reach. If the door can be locked from the inside, you might want to disable the lock so he can't lock himself in.

There should definitely be a child-resistant latch on the medicine cabinet. You'd be surprised at how early curious kids are able to climb onto a toilet or use a stool to explore the mysteries that lie behind the mirror!

Rub a Dub Dub

Once your infant outgrows his baby bathtub, you can use the regular tub with a rubber mat in the bottom. Skid-proof rugs on the floor are a good idea, too.

Always test the water with your entire hand before putting your baby in the tub, and set your water heater thermostat no higher than 120°F. Use a meat or candy thermometer to test the temperature in a glass of hot water from your tap. If it's too hot, turn the thermostat down, wait 24 hours, and test the water again. Repeat this process until you reach the 120°F mark. You'll be rewarded for your efforts with a safer water temperature and slightly lower utility bills. (For more information on preventing scaldings, see Stopping Fires Before They Start.)

Live in an apartment and can't control the water temperature? Then select faucets and shower heads with anti-scald technologies. If the water temperature becomes too hot, a valve in the device expands and stems the flow of water. Don't bother buying the color-changing temperature indicators. These gadgets, which come in cute designs, go in the tub and change color if the water gets too hot. Your hand works just as well.

You also can buy cushioning devices that fit over the tub faucets and spout so exuberant bathers don't hurt themselves by banging their heads.

Watch Out!

Baby bath seats, like the ones with rubber suction cups, can give you a false sense of security. Your wiggly baby can slip out of one of them and drown in the time it takes you to answer a ringing phone. Keep your hand on your baby whenever he's in the tub; don't expect an older child to be a reliable substitute for you. Babies need adult supervision in the bathtub.

Electrical Appliances

Everybody knows that electricity and water are a deadly mix. Keep electrical gadgets like curling irons, radios, and hair dryers out of reach of little hands in the bathroom. If these appliances are on and slip into the tub, they can cause electrocution, and curling irons can burn small children. Just imagine what can happen if an adult plugs the iron into a bathroom outlet and then walks away while it heats up. It's awfully tempting to a toddler who wants to mimic the big folks.

To be extra safe, just don't use these electrical appliances in the bathroom. Wherever you use your curling iron, make sure it's out of your child's reach, hot or otherwise, because kids learn quickly how to plug things in.

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