Safe bath temperature for babies and children: what you need to know
A safe bath temperature for babies and children is between 37°C and 38°C.
Bath water that’s too hot can scald children very quickly or even immediately. For example, children can be severely scalded in under a second when the temperature of tap water is around 60°C.
Scalds happen in the bathroom when children:
- are placed in dangerously hot baths
- are placed in baths where there are hot and cold areas of water
- are already in the water and put their hands or feet under running hot water
- turn on the taps themselves.
Basic first aid for scalds involves holding the scalded area under cool running water for 20 minutes. You can print out our illustrated guide to first aid for scalds for quick and easy reference in an emergency.
Preventing bathroom scalds
The best way to prevent scalds in the bathroom is to ensure that hot water is delivered to your basin, bath and shower taps at a maximum temperature of 50°C.
A temperature of 50°C is a low-risk temperature for scalds. At this temperature, it takes 5 minutes to severely scald a child. But 50°C isn’t a bathing temperature. You still need to mix cold water with the hot water to get the right bathing temperature.
Here are more tips to help you prevent scalds in the bath:
Making your bathroom safe
- Check that your hot water system has a temperature control device that ensures water is delivered to your taps at a maximum of 50°C. By law all homes built since 5 August 1998 must have this device.
- If your hot water system was installed before 5 August 1998, talk to your heater manufacturer, local gas supplier, plumber or gasfitter about installing a temperature control device on your hot water system.
- Install anti-scald devices on taps and shower outlets. These are available from hardware and safety product shops.
- Consider child-resistant taps or tap guards in the bath.
- Keep bathroom and laundry doors shut when you’re not using them. This will stop young children getting to taps on their own.
Running the bath safely
- Turn on the cold water first, then turn on the hot water. Swirl the water in the bath so there are no hot and cold spots.
- Make sure the hot water tap is turned off hard. When the bath is ready, briefly run cold water through the tap so water in the tap won’t burn anyone.
- If you have a mixer tap, run the hot and cold water together. Increase the temperature by adding more warm water, not straight hot water. If you run hot water by itself, your child might put a hand or foot in the stream and be burned.
- If you have a mixer tap, point the lever towards the cold setting when you’ve finished running the bath. Make sure your child can’t get to the lever.
- Test the bath temperature with a water thermometer or with your wrist or elbow. If your skin flushes when you put in your wrist or elbow, the water is too hot for your child. And if it feels hot, it’s too hot.
Supervising your child for safety
- Keep your child well away from the bath until it’s a safe temperature.
- Never leave your child in the care of an older child who might be able to turn on the hot water tap.
- Never leave your child alone in the bath or bathroom. Your child could easily turn on the hot water tap and not be able to turn it off.
Heated water needs to be stored at above 60°C to prevent the formation of Legionella bacteria. This is why a temperature control device must be fitted to lower the temperature of the water coming out of your taps.