I need some perspective from other families. My husband gives our 20-month old son his bath every night and does a great job. But typically he'll leave the bathroom once or twice, probably for only 30 seconds at most, to take his diaper out, get pajamas that he'd forgotten, etc. They're little things that really don't need doing immediately or that my husband could just call out to me and I'd happily get for him. But it drives me crazy. Our house is small and my husband genuinely isn't gone for very long, and my son is very well behaved in the bath tub - sits quietly playing. But it doesn't take long for a toddler to get in trouble in the bath. I just need to figure out if this is a battle worth fighting. Do you ever step out of the bathroom with a toddler in the tub?
Husband steps out when toddler in tub
At 20 months, it is worth fighting. A toddler can drown in a very short space of time and do it silently too. There is also the risk that said toddler could crank up the hot water, or try to stand up and slip. I think you need to sit down with your DH and really discuss what the risks are of leaving a 20 month old in the tub alone even for a short period of time.
I stepped out when DD1 was this age, only into her bedroom (the door was at 90 degrees to the bathroom door), or to get a towel (from the cupboard the door of which was also 90degrees to the bathroom door, on the opposite wall) and i was never longer than 30seconds or more than 4yards from her (due to the smallness of the apartment). She would always be making a lot of noise and splash so i knew she was fine. I was a single mama, so on the one hand there was no-one to do these things if i didn't, but on the other hand i was single from when she was 4months old and i never did it before she was able to sit steadily in the tub and i know plenty of single moms who NEVER do it, so it's down to personal comfort zones.
My XP would never have done so, and when he bathed her he forgot everything and i spent the entire time going back and forth sorting out every aspect of bath time that wasn't physically putting the child in the bath (i.e. fetching her bodywash, towel, PJ's, putting the heater in her room on, getting a night nappy assembled, finding her nappy cream, filling her cup with water, etc. etc.).
Have you talked to your husband? Do you often find fault with the way he does stuff or is it just this one thing (if it's a lot he might be zoning out and not realising this is actually a really big issue for you). You could try hovering around when he's bathing and whenever he stands up saying "what do you need, i'll get it!" or alternatively sitting with your son while he is off getting whatever-it-is.
DS is 27mos and DH does bath time & is always in the room or even in the bath with him -- the furthest he'll go is around the corner (L-shaped bathroom) to grab a new towel or whatever from the closet, which takes all of 5 seconds. He used to be a little more laid-back and I'd always be hovering just in case DH tried to randomly take off for a minute, but we've discussed it at length and he understands it's important to me that he stay in the room (and has come to agree with me on that too!)
I do leave my 25 month old unattended in the bath because I have to get his 5 month old sister out and dried off. I never leave for more than 30 seconds or so and am always within a few feet of him in the next room (I'm alone at night for bath time and it's way too hard to give them separate baths, so I do it at the same time). So yes, I do leave my toddler unattended, but I wouldn't if it wasn't necessary and it does make me a little uncomfortable. It is just too easy for them to turn on the hot water or slip in the tub. I don't really worry about drowning, because I'm not gone long enough for that to happen, but it does worry me that he could fall and I wouldn't be right there to grab him up out of the water. And at 20 months old, that would be a much bigger concern. If you're right there and can help so he doesn't have to step out, I would definitely mention it to him.
Well I don't have an issue with my own kid and me stepping out to grab a towel, an action that takes 15 seconds at most. However each to their own.
Drowning is actually the last risk I'd be worried about when stepping out for 30 seconds at most. Slipping and turning the HOT water on are my two biggies. DD is almost 2 and she just recently figured out how to twist the tub knob to hot or cold and that scares me because our hot water gets dangerously hot. MIL refuses to turn the temp on the tank down so I have scalded myself more than once doing dishes and being forgetful.
Drowning is silent and can happen very quickly but stepping out for 30 seconds is not a drowning danger, it is a big danger in a number of other ways though. Slipping and falling (DD just did this with me in the shower, literally looking at her) and turning the hot water on and burning themselves.
I also left the bathroom long enough to grab something when my dd was that age.
Somewhere between age 2-3 I left her in there to play while I sat on the bed watching tv. We lived in one of those homes where the builder thought it would be nice if everyone in the master bedroom could always see everything going on in the master bathroom, so the bathroom and bedroom were basically the same room.
I have known children to die from being left "for only a second" "to grab a towel" etc. Not acceptable. And if your child dies or near -drowns (which leaves the child with brain damage) then you do not get do-overs. And honestly, if your child dies that way, you will be just as at fault, because you knew it was going on.
You should go to youtube or a bereaved parents board and hear what the parents are saying who lost their children that way. Every one of them wishes they could go back to a day before the child died and never step out like that again.
Well I personally step out for a few seconds at a time and have for months now, but it is just us currently and she makes plenty of noise playing and all the rooms are bunched together so I don't go far and I can hear the entire time that she is fine and still sitting.
However, water is dangerous enough that if it makes you uncomfortable, it isn't too much to ask that he stay in the bathroom with your son. As a PP said, drowning isn't the only risk.
My YDD is 14 mos (in a week) and I will leave her in the tub w/her 3 yo sister. Just for a moment if need be. She is still little and ODD get's a little touchy feely so I worry about the baby falling and hitting her head/face. I make sure I have everything ready...towels, pj's lotion...etc. I've been doing this 7 yrs, so it's second nature. I still set out my DS' stuff and he's 7. Force of habit. lol I would feel safe at 20 mos to step out and get what's needed. I wouldn't go do the dishes, but to get a towel or washcloth I think it's okay.
I don't worry about the water b/c it's off by the time she gets in. And the knob is hard for me to pull out and turn on, by DS has a hard time with it. So that is not a concern for me. And she also makes tons of noise in the tub. Plus she's never bathed alone, maybe once or twice, ODD is always in there with her. And I make ODD sit closest to the faucet and drain.
honestly, i do leave her for a few seconds to dart to grab something or put her diaper in the bin, etc. i'm not gone for more than 15 seconds at the most though.. but dd seems (hopefully) fearful of the 'hot' which i have taught her the faucets are. she is somewhat likely to think about climbing out (dangerous) if i were to leave for very long, though.
Yes, this is one parenting rule that I usually live by. My husband is an excellent, conscientious dad, and he's usually the one with a lower tolerance for risk. We also just had a conversation about how it's okay for us to have differences in what we do, so I didn't want to jump the gun. But you're right. I'm uncomfortable, and it's a safety issue so it's worth dealing with. Thanks for all of the input, everyone!
I would be ok with it. My 3.5 yo bathes by himself and I started stepping out quickly when he was a year and a half I'd say.
However, in our house, we defer to each other as parents, so even though I'm ok with that scenario, if my DP asked me not to, because it makes him nervous, I'd oblige him. Likewise he obliges me about not leaving dd unattended in her booster seat at the table, since it doesn't have straps and she's likely to try and climb out.
If it's important to you then the other parent should respect that.