Today when my daughter took a bath I wanted to go check on a thing, but of course couldn't since I was watching her. Of course it depends on the child, but in general at what age do you think you can leave the child to play in the tub (with not too much water) to go, say to fetch the phone or similar?

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    Sometimes you can't even trust grow-ups on a bathtub. My SO hurt herself several times by doing stupid things you would expect from a kid - up to and including trying to stand on a jar of hair conditioner to reach a little insect on the wall or tangling her hair on the soap support.
    – T. Sar
    Jan 6, 2017 at 15:23

6 Answers 6


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends the age of 4 before children are allowed to bathe alone; a quick Google search will tell you that many parents start around that age. However, usually parents who leave their kids alone make sure that they have no music on and can hear the child clearly wherever they are. They also check in on the child every few minutes. As a parent, I am sure you'd agree that if the kid is making noise, it's probably fine. I wouldn't recommend going to answer the phone — it is quite distracting and you can "forget" about how quickly the time passes or fail to realize that your child is no longer making noise.

Also, note, that children are quite capable of turning the water tap on (unless it is really high or something). They might not know how to stop it or be too scared (suppose if they turned on scalding hot water).

As a personal story: my mother left our 14-month old daughter in the bathroom alone. My mother had just finished bathing her and clothing her, when she realized that she had forgotten her diaper. She went to get her diaper - and did nothing else - to come back to find that our daughter had locked herself in the bathroom. Our bathroom is quite small, and the vanity drawers, when open, prevent the bathroom door from being opened. Our daughter had closed the bathroom door (she does that sometimes) and then proceeded to open the vanity drawers.

Our daughter freaked out because she could not get out anymore, and all we could see of her was from a tiny little crack. She is well aware on how to close the drawers (on a normal day anyway), but she was scared enough that she just stood there and did nothing. It took us a full 15 minutes to make our way in to get her out. Had she been old enough to get in and out of the tub, or to turn the water on, she easily could have drowned or seriously injured herself.

Kids do the darnest things and get into the strangest messes. Don't test them. No phone call, not even the one to tell you that you've won a million dollars, is worth your child.

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    I do have wireless phones, as most people today, so I clarified that part. I mean fetch the phone. Obviously I'd go back to the bathroom with the phone. Jan 7, 2012 at 21:22
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    Have it with you in the bathroom before you start the bath :) You wouldn't be the first person to slip or fall around the house and not able to make it back to your kid :)
    – Swati
    Jan 7, 2012 at 21:24
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    @swati : if you're going to worry about slipping and falling in your own house, so that you can't get back to the tub in time, why not worry about sudden dizzy spells that can strike without warning and knock you out when your head hits the side of the tub? Life is never risk-free, better make sure TWO adults are always watching the tub. :) Jan 10, 2012 at 18:15
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    It's not terribly uncommon to slip and fall around the house. Dizzy spells, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc. are all possible - just unlikely.
    – Swati
    Jan 11, 2012 at 1:12
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    Yeah, Mr Shiny's comment was basically to say you gotta live your life without being concerned that the next step could lead to your demise. I tend to agree. It's that frame of mind that leads to regret over random things that happen in life. Leaving the BR and the door/drawer was noone's fault. It just is what it is. sure, you work to minimize these events, which is the theme of the quesiton, but you can't be rid of "unsafety".
    – monsto
    Apr 19, 2012 at 5:06

Easy answer, while practicing to be in the bathroom alone, step out for a few minutes to take care of something and have the child sing the ABCs at the top of his/her lungs. Lots of fun for the kids, and you know he/she is still breathing.

  • Good idea. But not an actual answer, though. :-) Jan 20, 2012 at 17:53

I guess I am from the old school. When I put a child in the water it's to wash them and get them out. If I have time for play I will put a toy in the water and if I need to do something, it will be something I can do in the bath room. I'm not willing to take a chance. Somethings we can not control when it comes to safety but what we can control we should do, especially those who can't do for them selves and depend on us. I was in a place where a 2 year old was put in a tub of water and the mother did leave the door open but had not checked on the child for about 2 min. I heard loud splash but still no mom. I went to the door of the bathroom and started talking to the 2 yr old thinking she would come. when she finally came out the room I told her she shouldn't leave a 2 yr old alone in the tub especially with that much water. She then looked in the bathroom and then said I put the water level at the height I do when I give him a bath, and it takes 4 min for him to drown. I will be able to hear him. I then said you should never say that out loud you can go to jail for a long time. I didn't laugh. so at this point I am so angry. Do I think she is a bad mom, no I don't but that was not nor should it be funny.

I think about it this way. If I worked at a daycare would you want me to leave your child in water unattended for any amount of time. NO not at all the day care would be shut down and it should. So where does the mind set come from to do this at your home? Does your child mean less to you?

  • You were right the mom was wrong. Hearing the kid splash isn't good enough, you splash while drowning. You won't hear them shout while drowning either, drowning is silent. Singing or talking to themselves is a good indication all is well, though. Mar 4, 2021 at 10:58

I let my 4 year old and 3 year old stay alone for many minutes at a time but the bathroom door is wide open and i take that time to put away the many baskets of laundry that are ALWAYS around😉 and also to tidy all the bedrooms ect...im upstairs the whole time just not in the bathroom.


It depends some kids are ready at a younger age some older. Keep the door opened and check on them frequently.


I have a daughter that's 3 1/2 and when we go swimming she puts her own head under the water for more than 5mississippi seconds. Because she had shown me that she is comfortable with water and knows how to hold her breath I feel OK to leave her alone for a min or two.

  • What are "mississippi seconds"?
    – user12035
    Apr 3, 2017 at 0:04
  • @Gerry 5 mississippi seconds would be saying "1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, 3 mississippi, 4 mississippi, 5 mississippi" Just a way of counting a little more slowly than just 1,2,3,4,5.
    – learner101
    Apr 3, 2017 at 10:02
  • unless she slips and hits her head somehow and slumps underwater.... Mar 12, 2021 at 10:47

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