If you came here after reading that headline to spout off about how OF COURSE, YOU would never leave a baby in a bathtub alone, I KNOW. I know. That’s not what this post is about.
It’s pretty common sense, I think, that you don’t ever walk away from a baby in a bathtub. But? Be honest- as your child got older and more independent, have you ever stepped away for even a minute to check on dinner or grab another toy?
For me, around the time the kids turn 3, I’ve felt comfortable doing just that. I would always come back and check in frequently, but it wasn’t always a 100% supervised activity. And honestly, in the RV, with Wallace taking baths in the Stokke Flexi Bath inside our shower– the closeness and the small tub gave me the false confidence that it was ok to step away from him for a brief moment to do small tasks the last few months of his 2nd year.
And now I feel sick to my stomach anytime I think of those moments I walked away because what if he had a seizure then?
Wallace had his first febrile seizure December 26th, 2018, the week after he turned 2. It came out of nowhere and we had no idea what was happening. It turns out it was caused by a sharp and fast spike in his temperature. He tested positive for flu a.
He’s since had 4 more febrile seizures, each one brought on by a new virus, thank you cold & flu season.
We met with a pediatrician to get a referral to a neurologist recently, and he reminded me over and over and over again until he could be confident I heard him and understood 100%- we are to never, ever leave him in or near a body of water without supervision for even a few seconds.
After seeing what seizures do to him, I shudder to think what could happen to a child who has one in a bathtub in the short amount of time it takes a parent to answer the front door or grab a clean towel from another room.
I’m not trying to be alarmist. The fact of the matter is I will never be able to let Wallace play unsupervised in a tub until I am 110% confident he’s outgrown this, which will be when he’s 6 or older- hopefully, assuming these are just febrile seizures and not epilepsy.
I get that seizures only happen to a very small percentage of children, but the thing is, you won’t see them coming if your child is that small percent. Febrile seizures are often the first sign of an illness. Wallace has been completely fever free, then had a seizure, and a 102 temp right after.
I don’t know that the reasonable response to this possibility is that every parent of a child younger than 6 keeps eyes on their kid every second they are in water, even shallow baths full of toys. That’s your call to make. But, at minimum, please don’t step away from kids who are not feeling well while they are in the bath.
They wake in the middle of the night, covered in puke, and you put them in the tub and step away for JUST a minute to strip the sheets- that’s all it takes.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, children between the ages of 6 months and 5 years are most likely to experience febrile seizures, and the risk peaks during the 2nd year of life. You can read more about FS here.