Why I Can No Longer Leave My Baby Alone in the Bathtub

Many moms have told me that if I leave my baby in the bathtub for longer than 10 seconds unsupervised, I will return to find a tiny, drowned body and a lifetime of remorse. There are horror stories to accompany this tale. For the first few months of his life, I refused to let him leave my sight when there was water anywhere in the room.

I’m over it. When he was 3 months old, I took every precaution, and he still ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. Now, I chuck him in the wave pool at the water park and he jumps around like some kind of fish on a spring.

So yesterday, I left him alone in the bathtub for a few minutes while I cleaned up his high chair and a few dinner dishes. (The current state of the dishes is a story for another day, when I know the conclusion.) I usually figure as long as I can hear him happily chirping and splashing, I know he’s not drowning.

He chirped. I washed dishes. After a few minutes, he started chirping louder, and then yelling “Mom!” Then the chirping stopped.

I turned off the water, listening to see if he was okay. The chirping did not return. I heard sounds of a struggle, then a soft thud, and a short cry. I dried my hands, told myself not to panic, and hurried to the hallway.

He met me halfway, running naked down the hall. He was thrilled. He had single-handedly pulled down two towels, climbed out of the bathtub without hurting himself, and now he was free, naked, and Mom knew how clever he was! I was legitimately impressed. But now I can’t help feeling a little doomed. I’m just one step closer to that day when he learns how to open doorknobs, and I never get another moment’s peace. ♦

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