A coroner issued a grim warning to parents after a nine-month-old baby was found drowned in a few centimetres of bath water.
The little boy was left in his bath seat for just a few minutes while his mum fitted a plug-in diffuser in his bedroom to help his cold.
She discovered him face down in the bath, with the seat unfixed. It had been firmly attached to the bath when she left.
The family made desperate attempts to revive him but he never regained consciousness. He died in hospital in his mother’s arms three days later.
An MRI scan showed he had sustained an unsurvivable brain injury due to drowning.
Why are babies at risk of drowning?
Babies of any age can drown in just a few centimetres of water, very quickly and with no noise or struggle.
In this case, the coroner heard that there had been “no sounds that he was in distress or difficulty” when he went under the water.
Babies can’t recognise danger and don’t have the strength to try to reach the surface. So, when their head slips under the bathwater, it stays there.
Baby bath seats give parents a false sense of security
While bath seats can be a useful tool in helping busy parents at bath-time, it’s important to remember they’re just a support, and NOT a safety device.
The product marketing may talk about strong suction pads or a non-slip seat to ensure your baby is held safely in place. But other tragedies show how seats have come away from the bath and babies have slipped under the water and drowned.
At the inquest the coroner warned of the dangers of leaving young children alone in a bath seat.
“I am aware of similar tragic deaths. I am concerned that bath seats may give parents a false sense of security that their child is safe. Bath seats are not safety devices.”
Our advice – keep your baby in arm’s reach
Stay with your baby all the time when they’re in the bath. It’s not safe to pop out and leave them, even for a few seconds.
And keep your baby in arm’s reach while they’re in water.
When you’re juggling demands, it’s easy to think that an older child can briefly look after a younger child or at least raise the alarm if something goes wrong.
But older children shouldn’t be left in charge. They can’t be expected to know what to do if something happens, may not recognise the danger or react quickly enough and may lack the strength or dexterity to get the baby out of danger.
Share because you care
We’re worried that bath seats give parents a false sense of security. Please share this story and what you’ve learnt with other families, to help stop more tragedies.