As children begin to use the toilet, bathroom safety becomes especially important. Because there are many potential safety hazards in the bathroom, child care providers need to supervise bathroom use carefully. As children reach the preschool years and beyond, child care providers can also help children stay safe in the bathroom by teaching them how to identify and avoid risks.
Most toddlers and preschoolers are not developmentally ready to be left in the bathroom alone because they do not have the self-control and good judgment to avoid risks. Be sure that at least one child care provider is supervising toddlers and preschoolers in the bathroom. If your child care setting has an open toileting area, with toilets easily accessible in the classroom (instead of a separate bathroom), post one child care provider near the area to monitor and help out when children are using the toilets.
School-age children may be ready to use the bathroom alone. Before you allow them to go alone, make sure they understand the rules. Stay close to the bathroom, and check on them frequently. Make it clear that you respect their privacy but will come into the bathroom if there is a problem. If you are a family child care provider, teach children using the bathroom alone not to lock the bathroom door so you can get in to help them if there is an emergency.
The bathroom has many areas and materials that could be risky to young children. Be aware of the following risks, and plan ways to eliminate or reduce them.
For more information on safety in the child care setting, check out Preventing Injuries in Child Care.