Playing it Safe
While moldy ducks may not pose a serious threat to your child's health, there are plenty of other safety concerns when it comes to kids and their bath time entertainment. It may seem obvious but it can't be said enough: "Anytime you have a child who is in the bath, then you have to supervise," says Dr. Konopasek.
"Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths for kids one-to-four-years old," cites Angela Mickalide, Ph.D., Program Director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. "About 10 percent of all childhood drownings happen in the bathtub, and the majority happen in the absence of adult supervision." It takes only a short amount of time. I remember my CPR instructor horrifying our class with tragic tales of parents who ran out of the bathroom to answer the phone or get an extra towel while leaving their children unattended in the bath, only to return to terrifying situations.
Choking can be another concern. "The same choking rules you think of for outside the bathtub, you should really think of inside the bathtub," says Dr. Konpasek. "The thing that would worry me the most is having bath toys that are the wrong size. So, a great rule for me is: If the item can fit through the inside of a toilet paper roll, it's too small" for your child to play with.
Some parents give their children everyday household items such as plastic bowls and cups to use in the bath. While these can be fun for little ones, cups and bowls from the kitchen don't have drainage holes like toys made specifically for the bath and, thus, can pose a drowning risk. Dr. Konopasek recommends, "Don't let kids play with things that haven't been child and safety-tested as toys."
Stray toys left inside the tub can become what the safety industry refers to as an "attractive nuisance." A toddler standing outside the tub may spot an inviting toy inside and try to grab it. That could mean trouble. "Children under a year-and-a-half are particularly top heavy," says Mickalide. So when they reach down into the tub for a toy, they could very easily lose their balance and tumble in.
As is the case with most areas of parenting, there aren't rules covering every conceivable situation. "There is no science about this," concludes Dr. Konopasek. "Parents generally have good common sense and make good decisions for their kids. Go with your instincts," she says. Unfortunately, "going with your instincts" may entail sending your child's favorite yellow pal for a one-way trip to the local landfill.