Bath seats are used to assist in supporting a baby or young child in a bathtub. Prior to updated safety regulations and standards, the majority of bath seats and rings were held in place with suction cups. Today, regulations mandate that a bath seat must be attached to the side of the bathtub with an arm that firmly locks in place. Bath rings primarily consisted of a plastic ring, and three or four legs with suction cups to hold it in place. However, bath rings are no longer manufactured or marketed in the U.S., as they do not meet with safety standards.
Bath seats are marketed for infant use of children between the ages of approximately 5 months to the age of 10 months. They are to be used only on infants who are not yet capable of sitting up unassisted until the child is able to pull itself up. Once a child is capable of sitting up on its own and able to achieve a standing position, a bath seat should not be used. Bath seats are not to be used with newborns or children under the age of about 5 months.
Safety Commission Standards for Baby Bath Seats and Rings
Standard safety specifications and regulations for baby bath seats has been revised and modified a number of times over the last several years, as ongoing studies into the safety of infant bath seats continue. Current standard regulations dictate the following performance and labeling requirements:
- Meet with regulations concerning sharp elements, lead paint, and small parts
- Must include locking devices
- Must prevent pinching
- Entrapment testing
- Tension test on arm attachments
- Permanent warning, caution, and notification labels must be present on the bath seat
- Tests must be performed to ensure stability on both a slip resistant surface and a smooth surface
- Restraint systems must prevent slipping through the seat or leg holes
- Suction cups must firmly adhere to the bath seat and the tub surface
- A leg opening requirements that will prevent a child from either sliding or slumping.
In addition to warning labels, an instruction manual and incident data is required
Dangers of Baby Baths Seats and Rings
There are three primary dangers associated with baby bath seats. These hazards include: the bath seat tipping over, the child slipping or climbing out of the bath seat, and entrapment in the leg openings. In any of these incidences, there is a risk of injury or even possible death.
Baby bath seats and rings pose a great danger of a child drowning if they climb out of the seat. In addition, many bath seats may easily tip over with the child or have defective seats and restraints that allow the child to slip through the leg holes, presenting a great risk of either injury or death to the infant.
Death and Injury Statistics of Baby Bath Seats and Rings
From 1983 to 2008, 171 infant deaths involving bath seats were reported to the CPSC. All of these deaths were related to drowning as a result of submersion. Thirty-five of these deaths occurred between the years of 2004 and 2006.
Of the 295 reports of other incidents received between 1983 and 2008, 116 were submersions. The remaining 143 were incidents such as entrapment, lacerations due to sharp edges, bumps, etc.
Examples of Defective Bath Seats and Rings
Examples of recalled infant bath seats and rings include:
Safety 1st Tubside Bath Seats
In July 2006, Dorel Juvenile Group of Columbus, Indiana announced a warning on 250,000 units of Safety 1st Tubside Bath Seats. The warning stated that the bath seats should not be used in sunken bathtubs and certain non-traditional tubs. The bath seat could break or tip over if used in these types of tubs, possibly causing a child to fall into the water and present a submersion hazard. Nine reports of these bath seats breaking in sunken or non-traditional tubs were received. In addition, 67 reports of other causes of breakage were reported, including breaking during assembly or handling of the bath seat. One child was reported to have tipped over in the seat and bruised his head when the bath seat was used in a non-traditional tub. These Safety 1st bath seats are blue and white with a swivel seat, and an elbow cushion on the arm attachment. The words, “Safety 1st” are printed on the front of the bath seat unit, and model number 44301 is visible on the base bottom. Dorel Juvenile Group stressed the importance of following the warnings and instructions set forth in the instructions. These Safety 1st bath seats were sold at discount department stores from December 2003 to August 2004.
”Seamore The Action Seahorse” Bath Ring
In June 1989, Century Products Company of Macedonia, Ohio put a retrofit into action on about 100,000 “Seamore The Action Seahorse” Bath ring tub toys as a result of a choking hazard. A push-nut on the neck of the seahorse could be removed and swallowed by a child. The bath ring is a plastic horse shaped seat with suction cups located on the bottom. When the head of the horse is rocked, water spurts out of the mouth of the horse. The retrofit included model number 2772. The bath seat toys were sold across the nation between March 1986 and December 1988. The neck-pin and push-nut that presented the hazard were corrected and improved on later models.
Gerry Splash Seats
Gerry Baby Products Company offered replacement suction cups on about 176,000 “Splash Seats” in May 1994 after a total of eight reports were received of the bath seat either tipping over or the suction cups separating from the seat. The bath seats were sold nationally and internationally from March 1993 to March 1994. The model number of the bath seat is 455. Gerry Baby Products is no longer in business, but the Evenflo Company has taken over any responses to this recall.