Baby bathtubs are buckets that are filled with water and placed in a full-size tub, sink, or countertop to make it easier to wash a baby. Fancy ones have shower attachments or whirlpool settings. An estimated 4.4 million are currently in use.
The CPSC received 281 reports of injuries and deaths, but estimates 2,300 children were injured in baby bathtubs between 2004 and 2015.
Not surprisingly, the biggest problem was parents leaving a baby unattended in the tub. Out of 31 babies who died, 30 drowned when a parent or caregiver left the room.
The interesting thing is that drownings and near-drownings made up only 17% of the total number injuries.
The most common injury was actually hammock or sling attachments collapsing (24%) and babies developing pressure injuries from the “hump” that is usually in the middle of the tub underneath the sling.
In October 2016, Summer Infant recalled 86,000 Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool tubs with fabric sling attachments after 91 reports of the sling detaching, 11 babies who suffered head injuries, and a possible drowning hazard.
Mold and allergic reactions were also surprisingly common. Itching, rashes, foul odor, lung infections, and urinary infections were reported. One possible explanation is squeeze bath toys that squirt out a stream of water.
Cut open a rubber ducky and you may be shocked at the amount of slime mold inside. Parents have recently posted disgusting pictures of mold growing in toys that are meant for chewing and sucking on.
Baby bathtubs have also been linked to scalding water burns, slip and fall injuries, and lacerations from sharp edges. One baby fell from the countertop to the floor and got a concussion when the tub legs broke.
The CPSC will require larger warning labels and stronger locking mechanisms on the sling attachments. The new rules go into effect on October 2, 2017.