When can a child bathe alone?

Jenni - posted on 09/17/2011 ( 27 moms have responded )




Am I just really overprotective and is this completely normal?

My SD (4 years old) split her chin in the bathtub a few days ago. She had to get 3 stitches. Her bio mom told my SO when he asked how it happened, that she was in the bath alone.

I was talking to my SD just now about getting stitches and her being a brave girl and such. She was talking about how she fell in the bath and said her mom was downstairs with her boyfriend. She said that I always watch her in the bath but her mom doesn't.

So is it strange I wouldn't leave a 4 year old in the bath alone? My son is 3 years old and I would never entertain the idea. I just fear that anything could happen. My SD could have slipt, knocked herself unconscience and drowned (worst case scenerio)!

Am I just way too overprotective? I understand at 4, maybe leaving the bathroom for a minute or two but staying near by the bathroom. Not being on an entirely different floor. What age do you feel is an appropriate age to bathe alone?


Ez - posted on 09/18/2011




Being on another floor of the house is the only thing that I would object to. I don't think it's necessary to be in the bathroom with a child that age (it obviously depends on the child, but generally speaking), but I would want to be within earshot. My Dad used to make us sing when we were in the bath alone so he would know we were ok and I think it's a great idea! It allows them a bit of independence and privacy without us having to panic that they've slipped silently under the water.

Jodi - posted on 09/22/2011




Well, I think 4 is ok to leave them, but ONLY within earshot. I'll be honest, my daughter is 6 and I still like her to be in earshot. I am still not comfortable with her closing the bathroom door. I'm sure this will change in the near future, but at the moment, if she is bathing, she will call out at least twice for me for some reason, so I'd rather stay in earshot :)

Jenni - posted on 09/22/2011




I agree Jodi, I mean as Laura and I pointed out... it can happen at any age. Of course the younger they are the greater the risk.

But remaining within earshot *in case* something is to happen is important. We can't always prevent these things but if they do happen being available to react quickly is vital. I mean, my children could slip and fall with me being *in* the bathroom. But if you're on an entirely different floor it could go unnoticed. And time can be of an essence in these situations.

Jodi - posted on 09/22/2011




I left my son when he was 4, but I was always within earshot. I was a single mum, so usually I would come in from work, organise his bath and while listening to him play, I would quickly get dinner organised (it was a small house).

Unfortunately, he DID hurt himself doing something stupid and he cracked his head on the tiles on the edge of the bath. We ended up in the ER, but no stitches were needed, they preferred to glue it.

It is easy to make the mistake. I thought I could trust him.

BUT, the difference is, I could hear him. Very clearly. I would never have done it if we were talking upstairs vs. downstairs.

Merry - posted on 09/22/2011




All i can think of is my friend Caleb who was a college freshman and he got into the shower alone in his dorm, slipped, hit his head, a student heard the noise and found him, called 911, he was rushed to the er and into surgery but was pronounced dead quickly.
If a grown man can die in the shower it can happen to anyone. But the younger and more careless someone is the greater risk there is.
If memory serves, my mom would sit in the bathroom with me almost every shower! Bath time she just set up camp in the bathroom, we each bathed and shed help us dry dress and lotion etc, I was probably around 10 before I just did my own shower with no help at all. I could wash my own hair earlier then that but she would usually get the water going, set me out a towel, etc.
So I think she always was concerned with safety in the tub. Besides we only had a small one story house so I'm sure she could hear most everything.
Idk, the tub scares me after Caleb dying so my kids will likely be quite old before I leave them all alone in there.

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Amy - posted on 11/26/2012




I think it goes with how comfortable the child feels about it all. My 10 year old still likes taking bathes with his younger brother, and sister, and still likes me to sit on the toiled when he bathes alone to chat. He does all of the cleaning himsef *I help with his hair*, but he just enjoys the company. I will be sad in a year or so when he is too big for our little chats though. Anyway I feel around 5-6 is a decent time if they are ready. I would still keep the door cracked so you can hear though.

Stifler's - posted on 09/22/2011




I leave my kid in the shower and fold the washing outside the door or in the bath. I make sure I can hear him playing. I wash him, brush his teeth and shampoo his hair then let him play with his fishies for a bit.

Sherri - posted on 09/22/2011




I have left them in the bath alone since around 2 1/2 I could hear them but no they played in there for a good hour sometimes I don't have the time sit there for an hour so I leave door open and just listen. I always washed him but when it was playtime he was all set all on his own.

At 4 my kids were showering by themselves frequently. I would wash hair and they did the rest. They even turned shower off, got out, dried off and got jammies on all by themselves.

Jenni - posted on 09/22/2011




I'm sure he could mention it to her. Although, I would imagine this scare has her on her toes.

My SD is very mature for her age. Always has been, so I think her mom thought she would be fine and I imagine this wasn't the first time.

I thought of suggesting it to my husband, but I also just assumed her mom would learn from this experience. I'm sure he could just ask her how she plans on handling bathtime in the future.

She was so freaked out when it happened and called my husband who recommended she take her to the ER. So it probably wasn't the best time to be critical.

He's usually pretty good at approaching these matters without sounding critical of her parenting. I mean, we (parents) all have lapses in judgement.

Merry - posted on 09/22/2011




Yeah my husband and I prefer each other never bathe if we are alone at home, but even though 911 was called so fast with Caleb he still died. And it's sadly ironic because he had always been a competitive swimmer and was at college on a full ride scholarship for swimming. Died in the shower. Just not fair!
Jenni, can you or your hubby talk to her mom and ask her not to let her bathe out of earshot? I'd be seriously worried it could happen again since it happened once already.....or would the mom see this as an attack of her parenting skills. :/

Jenni - posted on 09/22/2011




That is so true Laura, it can happen to anyone. My friend fell in the shower and hurt herself pretty bad when she was around 27 years old.

I can totally understand maybe leaving a child 3 and up for a few minutes and at 4 or 5 with some children staying close by the bathroom but what I can't fathom is leaving a 4 year old and being on an entirely different floor.

It only takes a few seconds to drown. It is just not a risk I'm willing to take with a child who cannot yet understand those dangers.

I will leave my son for a few minutes to go grab something but our house is one level and incredibly small. I can hear him the whole time and I'm only a second away. But lately I haven't even been doing that, just because I'm usually bathing my 16 month old with him. So I can't leave her alone.

Also my tub has no stick grips. Yeah, I should probably get some. :/

Merry - posted on 09/22/2011




Deanna, how can you say that by three every child can bathe themselves? Maybe if they have no hair? Or if they just adore bath times but many kids have aloof hair that a three year old couldn't possibly wash alone. Or they fight hair washing so why would they even try to do it alone!

Jurnee - posted on 09/18/2011




at 4 I let them bathe themselves, but i still did their hair. i did leave the door open though,my house is pretty small, so I was nearby.

Brittany - posted on 09/18/2011




I leave my kids "alone" in the bath tub and they are 5, 4 and 3. I am usually cooking dinner or doing homework. The kitchen is directly outside of their bathroom and where I do my homework is on the other side of the bathroom. I do go in there to wash them and the door must be left open. We have been successful.

No you are not overprotective and yes you are normal. It depends on what you are comfortable with.

[deleted account]

I'm still in earshot of my 9 year olds in the tub/shower. They've been injured more times than their brother..... ;)

Nikki - posted on 09/18/2011




I really think it depends on your child and your house. I think after about 4-5 is ok for most children but I would still want to be able to hear what's happening in the bathroom. I would never go to an area in the house where I could not hear them for an extended period of time.

Cara - posted on 09/17/2011




My oldest will be 3 next month. I occasionally leave the bathroom for a minute to swap laundry if she is playing or something. my laundry area is just outside of the bathroom. I never leave her to bathe alone except to check on something for a minute. I don't really worry about her drowning but i do worry about her slipping and hitting her head on the faucet or something. She does sometimes like to take shower and i might leave for a minute to dress her sister after they are both clean but my husband nor I leave her for very long and constantly call her name to get a response if we are not RIGHT there

Johnny - posted on 09/17/2011




My daughter is 3, and while I will quickly leave the room to grab something or read the news on the computer, from which I can directly see her in the tub, I do not leave her "unattended". I will be unlikely to do so until she's probably around 7. I wouldn't still be bathing her then, but staying nearby just to be vigilant.

Joanna - posted on 09/17/2011




My oldest (turned 4 today) loves washing herself, but isn't through, so we make sure to wash the crevices when she's done. But we always stay nearby just in case she gets wild we tell her to sit and be careful. But I'll go in the next room to fold laundry for a few minutes.

Elfrieda - posted on 09/17/2011




Well, my son is almost 2, and I already "leave the bathroom for a minute or two but stay near the bathroom". I expect by age four that the only thing I'll be needed for is washing his hair.
But I'm kind of influenced by my childhood, where my parents couldn't handle me growing up, and my mom washed my hair until I was 10. It was humiliating, and I want to make sure that I give my son lots of space to grow up in a timely manner.

Becky - posted on 09/17/2011




I bathe my 2 together and the youngest is only 2, so I don't leave them alone in the tub, unless it's for a minute to go grab something. But I will leave Cole, who is 3 1/2, alone for a few minutes while I get his brother dried and dressed. I still wash him. He probably could wash himself and I should probably start letting him do that, but I wouldn't trust him to do his own hair. He hates having it done, so he'd never do it if I didn't! If he decides he doesn't want to bath with his little brother anymore, then I'd probably be comfortable with leaving him alone and just making sure his hair gets washed and he gets all he important bits clean by the time he's 4 or so. I'd stay on the same floor though, where I could hear him easily, not go downstairs.

Rosie - posted on 09/17/2011




it's different for each child. my older children have both been taking baths by themselves from about age 4. my youngest is 4, and i'm not too comfortable with that for him yet.
but in my opinion, a normal 4 year old is perfectly capable of being in there by themselves-with maybe a little help to make sure they washed themselves thoroughly.

[deleted account]

My 3 year old is in the bath alone quite frequently (I do help wash him though). I can hear him from everywhere else in the house.

The girls were 4 when they started bathing alone (well, together), but that's the age they were when we first GOT a bathtub....

[deleted account]

My son starting showering by himself when he was about 5 1/2, but we keep the bathroom door open. But in all honesty, when he was 4 and still taking regular baths, he was able to be left alone-again with the bathroom door open. From where the computer is situated, I am 10 feet to the open bathroom door.

[deleted account]

When THEY are ready, not you. By 3 they can bathe themselves they don't need you there to do it for them. You can sit outside the door if it bothers you that much.

Tracey - posted on 09/17/2011




Didn't leave mine until they were 6 or 7 and when they felt they were big kids I would read outside the bathroom door where I could still see them.
From another point of view you should be happy that you have a good enough relationship with your SD that you can watch her in the bath.

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