Thirty-two infants placed in bathtub seats have drowned since 1983, prompting federal agencies to warn parents to never leave babies alone in the bath, even if the children are in the bathing devices.
In a study to be published this week in the journal Pediatrics, researchers report that of 32 infants who drowned while in the bathtub seat, 29 were left alone or attended only by other children.
Renae Rauchschwalbe of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said the bathtub seats, used by millions of parents, are not designed to substitute for the presence of an adult, and older babies can climb out of them.
“We want parents and caregivers to know that they (the bath seats) are not a safety device,” Rauchschwalbe said. “Never leave your child alone in the tub, whether or not you are using a bath seat.”
She said more than 1 million of the bath seats are sold annually. The seats consist of a plastic ring supported by three or four legs. The infant sits inside the ring, either on the tub surface or on an attached rubber mat. Since the ring partially supports the infant, the caregiver has both hands free to wash the child.
But labels on the devices warn that the seats are not to be used while the child is unattended.