Taking a Bath Alone: When Is My Child Old Enough?

Jeanne Sager
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Photo by ShansBerman
Kids can spend hours in the bath tub amusing themselves, but let's face it -- after 20 minutes, my knees start to get tired.

I've been wanting to sneak out of the bathroom for years, but the warning "kids can drown in just an inch of water" has been drilled into my head.

Which is not to say that I haven't spent time trying to find out when I can leave her alone in there.

Surveys have shown that as many as 31 percent of American parents have left their kids alone in the bath while they ran to grab the phone or another towel. If you're one of them, it's OK, you don't have to raise your hand.

But you should know the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children should not be left alone in a bath tub until they are at least 4 years old.

Leslie Barakat M.D., a pediatrician with Cigna Medical Group in Phoenix, Ariz., suggests waiting until your kids are at least able to hold their breath under water, blow bubbles and are able to swim.

Even then, she advises parents to "leave door open and be within hearing distance, checking every couple of minutes, also when the singing or splashing stops."

Barakat tells us to make rules with the child, such as no standing without Mommy or Daddy, no turning on the water, etc.

Do your kids spend a long time in the tub?

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