Commissioner's Blog: Unsupervised bath time puts children at risk
Baby bath aids such as plastic recliners, cradles or seats, have become increasingly popular with parents as they provide support for babies and young children in the bath.
But it is important to remember that they are not safety devices or a substitute for adult supervision and support. Children have drowned while using a bath aid as they can easily slip off and become submerged under water, tip over when the suction cups come loose or climb out.
According to the Royal Life Saving Society Western Australia, parents mistakenly believe they will hear their child drowning. Drowning is swift and silent and is not accompanied by children crying out or splashing.
With this in mind a new safety standard, which requires clearly visible and appropriate warning labels on baby bath aids to ensure adults are warned about the risks, was introduced on 26 October 2017. The purpose is to reduce the incidence of babies drowning or being injured while in one of these devices.
All baby bath aids sold in Australia must comply with the updated Safety Standard from 27 October following a 12 month transitional period.
An adult must supervise the baby or toddler closely at all times when around water. The majority of bathtub drowning deaths occur when there is an interruption to bathing routine; for example, the doorbell rings while a parent is bathing the children. In over 80 per cent of bathtub drowning deaths, children were already bathing when they drowned.
If you need to leave the room for any reason – take your child with you. Make sure you do not rely on children to supervise each other while in the bath. They may think the baby or toddler is playing, or they might not raise an alarm in time. Children often do not know what to do if something happens, or think they might get into trouble.
When selecting a baby bath aid for your child check that the safety warning statement is clearly displayed on the product, that it is easy to read and that it is able to withstand the warm soapy water of bath times for the life of the product. Check that there are no sharp edges or points on the bath aid, that your child fits properly into the device and that any toys attached to the bath are not small enough to fit in a baby or toddler’s mouth.
As another precaution, always keep at least one hand on the baby when around water to prevent them from slipping face first into or under water. Infants may not have the neck strength to move their head or face away from the water.
If your child is being bathed by another family member or carer ensure they are made aware of safe procedures for bathing your child.
Knowing how to perform resuscitation techniques could also save your child’s life.
More information about baby bath aids is available at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au , by calling 1300 304 054 or emailing your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit Royal Life Saving Society WA for information about resuscitation training.
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