Creating Safe Bathrooms for Children

By Barbara Schmidt

safe(ARA) - In a perfect world, everything that works for adults would work just as well for children. But the reality is that traditional bathrooms are specifically designed to function for adults. Toddlers and small children face a host of possible safety issues every time they enter a bathroom. Thinking about potential pitfalls of the bathroom from a small child's point of view helps to create a safe and enjoyable environment for the whole family.

Fixture Fixes

Children often have a hard time navigating sinks, toilets and tubs made for adults. Here are some easy fixes.

Hang it Low

Make it easy for the kids to use the sink by installing a wall-hung model several inches lower than you would for an adult. For added fun, choose a sink with a whimsical pattern.

Potty Training Made Easy

If you have a bathroom dedicated to the children in the house, install a toilet designed specifically for three-footers. American Standard's Baby Devoro toilet has a rim height of 10 1/4 inches making it perfect for toddlers as well as grade-school aged children. And it is compatible with standard plumbing so it can be easily replaced with a full-sized toilet when the kids grow up.

Step it Up

Place a step stool near the bathtub so little ones can climb in and out easier. Make sure the tub is slip proof and never leave children unattended while bathing.

Just Add Water

Here are some quick and fun ideas to build safety into bath time for any age child.

Safe Space

Give children a lower drawer or cabinet for their storage. Kids' towels and toys can be left unlocked for them to play with at bath time.

Smaller is Better

Refill small plastic bottles of shampoo so children can learn how to handle and pour their own shampoo with your supervision. Kids' soaps and shampoos are less likely to sting eyes and come in fun shapes and scents.

Pocket Storage

Many of today's colorful new shower curtains come with breathable pockets for wet toy storage. These mesh curtains are a great way to keep toys put away and mildew-free.

Safety Underfoot

Many popular bathroom flooring materials can become slippery when wet. Smooth tile or granite may look great and be easy to upkeep, but it can be dangerous under little feet. Choose a safer alternative like vinyl or textured tiles.

Don't Get Burned

To avoid scalding, water heating systems should not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Check water heaters to retrofit an anti-scald device. Homes built after 1985 may have such a device already built in. For added safety, install a faucet with safety stops that offer adjustable settings and restrict how far the handle can be pushed toward hot.

The Great Lock Up

Some areas are just not safe for young children and should be locked when not in use. There are devices available that are inexpensive and easy to install for bathrooms, kitchens or just about anywhere in the home.

Toilet Seat Locks

Kids can drown in less than one inch of water and toilet seat lids can easily be locked with a plastic latch to keep this water inaccessible. Lids will lock automatically when shut and open with a swing lever.

Cabinet Latches

Locks for virtually every style of single and double door cabinet as well as drawer latches are available. Whether you have a knob or pull type of handle, these locks can secure any cabinetry.

Outlet Covers

There are several varieties of outlet covers these days, some that just insert into the outlet, some that cover the outlet while in use and some that swivel closed when the outlet is not in use. All of these covers keep children away from live outlets.

Doorknob Covers

These make round doorknobs hard to open for smaller hands. Adults have to squeeze grip buttons on either side to allow the doorknob to turn.

Cord Wind-ups

Comments

The design of a bathroom must account for the use of both hot and cold water, in significant quantities, for cleaning the human body. Water may be splashed on the walls and floor, and hot humid air may cause condensation on cold surfaces. From a decorating point of view the bathroom presents a challenge. Ceiling, wall and floor materials and coverings should be impervious to water and readily and easily cleaned.