As babies grow, so do their curiosity. As they learn to grab, crawl, walk and eat everything in sight, the world becomes their playground. We spoil our kids with toys, but random objects are their favorite things to play with.
As parents, we try our best to keep a close eye on our children. We know that the best way to prevent accidents from happening is to keep dangerous items out of reach and out of sight. As life gets busy, our homes get messy and unsafe items get left out. Kids are fast and sometimes the worst accidents happen right under our noses.
When babies start to explore, everything in the house becomes a safety hazard. I know this because I’ve got an extremely active 10 month old. He is either sleeping or he’s on the go and it seems like every time I blink, he finds something to play with. Just the other day he found a glow stick in my closet… when and where I got a glow stick is a mystery to me, but of course my curious monkey found it. We’ve definitely had our share of close calls, so I offer no judgement to parents whose babies end up in the hospital from home accidents.
Every room in the house poses a threat to active babies, but the bathroom is home to many injuries. Here are 15 everyday bathroom items that send babies to the emergency room.
15 Cotton Swabs
Let's face it, our precious kids can be gross. If we didn’t teach them hygiene skills, they would probably go to bed covered in dirt and sleep just fine. Not all hygiene habits should be passed on though.
Doctors have been shouting at us for years to leave the wax in our ears alone. The problem with cotton swabs (aka Q-tips after the leading brand), is they push wax deeper in our ears, which can cause infections and injuries. Since no one wants wax gooping out of their ears, many adults ignore this advice and kids follow their ear cleaning habits.
A 21-year study in The Journal of Pediatrics estimated that cotton swabs send approximately 35 children to the hospital every day. Most of the accidents happen when young children are fooling around with cotton swabs or trying to clean their own ears.
No mom wants to see earwax in their babies' ears, but it's best to wipe the outer ear clean with a washcloth and leave the inside alone. If earwax buildup is causing problems, send your kids to the doctor. As for the fluffy mini swabs that seem harmless, consider storing them on a higher shelf or ditching them altogether.
14 Hot Styling Tools
If you own a hair straightener, curling iron or flat iron, chances are you’ve burnt yourself more than once. I rarely pop out my hot styling tools anymore, but when I used to use them regularity, I had my share of scars to prove it.
We already know that anything that gets hot is dangerous of kids, yet children get rushed to the hospital with burns every day. In 2009, Scotland's largest health authority set up a health campaign because too many young children were treated at the hospital with burns caused by hair straighteners. Many burns happened when moms were busy getting ready while their straighteners were left unattended.
Hot styling tools can take up to 40 minutes to cool down, but even when cooled, their long electrical cords can be a strangulation hazard. When getting ready, make sure your styling tools are out of reach and then store them in a safe place.
When parents potty train their kids, they expect accidents to happen. Besides a dirty mess though, no one expects a trip to the hospital from a potty related injury.
There are countless stories of kids getting their head stuck in random places like fences and mailboxes. Heads trapped in training seats are just part of the mix. This past March, a two year old girl ended up on the news after her potty got stuck over her head. The poor kid just wanted to rock her Winnie the Pooh seat as a stylish necklace, when she got it stuck around her neck. When her parents couldn’t get it off her, they called for help. Luckily, firefighters saved the day by removing it with special equipment.
As a parent, one of the biggest challenges you’ll have is teaching your kids not to test if their heads fit in small spaces. When potty training your kids, keep their bums on the seat and make sure they know that potties are not to be worn as fashion accessories.
Besides the pain and crankiness that comes with teething, it’s always adorable when babies start getting their first teeth. Once teeth are set, dental hygiene comes into practice and sometimes toothbrushes can cause more harm than good.
The Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program revealed that toothbrush-related injuries have been reported to cause some serious injuries in young children. From choking to falling down and banging into something while brushing, there were a number of toothbrush-related injuries that sent young children to the hospital. The majority of cases happened when kids were left alone to play or brush their teeth.
Remember to always supervise young children while they brush their teeth. It can be a challenge to get kids to do anything without moving like jumping jellybeans, but try your best to teach your kids to stay in front of the sink while brushing. Try making teeth brushing fun in other ways by playing safe games or offering rewards.
Many lazy people have swapped their manual toothbrushes for electric ones (I am one of those people). Some electric toothbrushes come with a high price tag, but there are battery operated ones available at stores for a couple of dollars. Some are specifically designed for children and can be a great tool to make a boring hygiene task more fun. However it is important to be aware of potential safety concerns.
A couple of years ago, The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to parents about children’s battery-powered spinbrushes when too many accidents were reported. In numerous cases, while spinning, the bristles at the top of the toothbrush broke off. This resulted in several injuries and broken teeth and presenting a serious choking hazard.
Over the years, manufacturers have improved designs and added safety warning on their packaging. If you do buy a spinbrush for your little one, just make sure the parts are secure so no one loses an eye.
Babies aren’t smart enough to know that some things are gross, like sticking your head in the toilet bowl or drinking water covered in pee. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a lid lock on the toilet when small children can get to it.
Besides being gross, some people forget that toilet bowls are a drowning hazard. Any bucket of water is dangerous for young children and toilet bowls are no exception. The problem is babies love toilets. My son has an obsession with our toilet and he just discovered that it flushes. I try to keep him away from it, but he peels towards it every chance he gets.
The best way to keep young kids from playing with toilets is to keep bathroom doors closed and always supervise them when they are in the bathroom. When potty training, never leave a toddler alone. Sitting on a toilet with dangling legs requires balance and falls are another safety concern.
9 Shower Curtains
On the long list of dangerous activities that young kids love to do, pulling on things is one of them. Stings and cords are strangulation hazard, so window cords should always be out of reach from children, but drapes and shower curtains also cause injuries.
As kids get stronger, they will put on things harder. Tugging on shower curtains can easily lead to slips and falls. The shower curtain and rod could also fall on top of them.
Shower curtains also pose a different kind of threat to little rascals. Many shower curtains are made out of PVC, which is a synthetic plastic with toxic compounds. Studies have found that plastic shower curtains release toxic chemicals into the air, which can be dangerous for the entire family. For this reason, many stores such as IKEA have replaced PVC shower curtains for safer options. When buying shower curtains, it’s best to make sure they are free of PVC.
Parenting advice of the year: Keep razor blades away from your children. This one is hopefully obvious to everyone, yet kids still end up at the hospital with razor cuts.
Kids copy everything we do. By teaching by example, they learn to brush their teeth and wash their hands just like us. Sometimes we forget how much children observe us, so we have to be careful when we shave in front of them.
Kids love to play grown-up. That’s why there’s toys like mini lawnmowers and tool kits, but you should probably think twice before buying a toy shaving kit. No matter how many times we say we’ll put dangerous things away, life gets busy and dangerous items get left out.
Mommy can shave her legs and daddy can shave his beard, but kids need to understand that razor blades are not a toy and they are only for adults to use.
7 Cleaning Products
Life gets busy and chores get left behind, but most people try to keep their bathrooms clean. Since there’s only so many items you can fit on higher shelves, bulky cleaning products are usually kept under the bathroom sink.
When left in a place where small children can get to, cleaning products can be extremely dangerous. It is reported that every year more than a million children under the age of five swallow toxic chemicals. Small kids love to taste everything they find, and cleaning products can be poisonous. The chemicals found in cleaning products can also cause skin or respiratory irritation and burns.
When kids enter the picture, it’s a good idea to consider switching to natural cleaning products, but even safer products pose a threat to babies. If you have young children and cleaning products sit under your sink, you may want to move them to another place in your home and only take them out when cleaning.
6 Bath Marbles
Because of their size, shape and texture, grapes are at the top of the food choking hazard list. Bath marbles are basically the grapes of the bathroom.
Being small, round and slippery, those little jelly balls that are used to relax in the tub can be very dangerous for children. Especially because they are fun to play with.
Bath marbles are not the only small items found in bathrooms that are a choking hazards. An empty toilet paper tube can be used a choking hazard guide – if an object is small enough to fit through the tube, it should be kept out of reach from children under three years old. Babies go from crawling to opening cupboard quickly, so make sure small objects are put away in high shelves.
By all means, keep your bath marbles handy when your kids are finally sleeping and you need to take a well-deserved bath. Just make sure they are out of reach for when your sleeping beauties wake up.
Unlike razor blades and flat irons, makeup doesn’t scream safety hazard, but that’s what makes it even more dangerous.
Many moms have make-up items like mascara, eyeshadow and concealer lying around in the house. With all the colors and fun shapes, make-up is something that children are drawn to. From eating lipstick to choking on eyeshadow, everyday make-up items have the potential to send children to the hospital. When your babies find your make-up stash, keep a close eye on them and distract them with other toys.
On another topic, whether it be Halloween or a family photo shoot, some parents feel the need to put make-up on their little ones. Personally, I am opposed to the idea, but if you do decide to paint your child’s face, do it with safety in mind. Be cautious of the ingredients in the make-up before applying it and wash it off well to prevent clogged pores.
4 Toilet Paper
As a rule of thumb, anything that is small enough to fit through a toilet paper roll is a choking hazard for small children, but toilet paper itself is also a safety concern.
One day, your little explorer will discover the joys of toilet paper. It’s soft, it breaks apart easily and it keeps on unravelling when you pull on it. For babies, toilet paper is basically the greatest thing in the world and since they put everything in their mouth, they can easily choke on it.
For obvious reasons, toilet paper is something that needs to stay at arm’s reach when you’re on the toilet. Putting it high up in a shelf is probably not an option, but you may consider a toilet paper guard.
Along with toilet paper, facial tissues and paper towels are also choking hazards. Paper is like candy to babies, so keep a close eye on them when they get a hold of it.
3 Slippery Floors
From bathtubs to showers and sinks, bathrooms are filled with water sources making them the slipperiest rooms in the house.
Active babies and wet bathroom floors are a dangerous combination. Since small children are not strong enough to fall properly, they tend to fall head first. This makes face and head injuries more common in children under five years old. Teach your little ones that just like by the pool, there is no running allowed in the bathroom.
In 2005, a study from the Nationwide Children's Hospital concluded that over 80% of bathtub related injuries were caused by slips and falls. The best way to prevent slips in the bathtub is to secure a non-slip mat in the tub. Kids love to play in the water and they can get excited and stand up, but give them bathtub toys and teach them to stay seated at all times. After bath time, dry off their feet well with a towel and make sure the bathroom floor is dry.
2 Drawers & Cupboards
Bathroom drawers and cupboards are safety hazards for young children for two reasons.
The first reason is that children love to explore everything inside them. Besides everyday items found on this list, toiletries, medication and other random finds can be very dangerous. When your baby starts to crawl and open drawers, it’s a good idea to get in spring cleaning mode and organize your drawers. Remember that young kids can still find ways to open meds with safety caps.
The second reason drawers and cupboards are dangerous is because kids have monkey instincts and the stronger they get the more they try to climb everything. Little fingers can get trapped inside drawers, kids can fall while trying to climb and drawers can fall on top of them.
Besides always supervising, the best way to prevent drawer and cupboard related injuries is to baby-proof the bathroom with safety locks and latches.
There are many things found in a bathroom that are safety hazards, but bathtubs take the win for sending the most babies to the emergency room. In 2005, a study from the Nationwide Children's Hospital concluded that accidents caused in a bathtub were remarkably higher than all other child injuries.
The first rule of bath time is to never leave your baby unsupervised. Not even for a minute. Bath time is not a time to multi-task and a baby in a bathtub should always have an adult’s full attention (aka don’t text and wash your baby).
To prevent burns, always check the temperature of the water with your elbow. Always use safe, baby-friendly soaps and keep everything in arm’s reach. Finally, never, ever leave your baby alone in the bathtub… I already mentioned that, but it’s worth mentioning twice.
At the end of the day, young children in bathrooms doesn’t have to be a recipe for disaster. By keeping safety as your number one priority, bath time can be fun for everyone.