My little girl has a thing for standing up in the bathtub. And I’ll admit, I’ve let her do it. She’s a very careful child, and she’s always moved slowly and cautiously when moving around in there. So it didn’t seem fair to make her sit the whole time.
I always sit on the closed toilet seat, or on the floor by the tub, when Serenity’s bathing. Safety first! And I am very careful to caution her to be “slow and careful” if she stands up or crawls around at all. Serenity loves bath time, and will stay in the tub until the water is ice cold, if we let her.
In the nine months or so that she’s been able to move around the tub on her own, Serenity has never even come close to falling.
And then it happened…
She got mad at me, because I wasn’t getting her out of the bath fast enough. She tried to climb out on her own…and fell, smashing her face into the side of the tub.
She’s okay. Mostly.
The upshot is that she fractured all four of her top front teeth, split her gums, and knocked one of her two main top teeth loose.
Serenity screamed for about 5 minutes, and bled all over herself and me, but then calmed down, and within 30 minutes you would never have known she’d hurt herself by how she was acting. Her lips were swollen, but otherwise uninjured, and the swelling was gone by morning.
We called her pediatrician. Since she stopped bleeding right away, and did not appear to be in pain, he advised us to give it a few days, and then take her to a pediatric dentist if she still had any discoloration on her gums by the end of the week. Four days later, she still had bruising on her gums, and her front tooth was still loose, so we made an appointment.
Nobody got bit.
That’s the good news! The bad news is that Serenity’s tooth should not still be loose, and we have to keep a close eye on it for a while. We have a follow up appointment with her dentist in 3 weeks, and if the tooth starts to turn grey at all, we have to rush her in immediately. They’re concerned that she may have broken the root when she fell.
This was Serenity’s first dental appointment. I was so proud of her! She didn’t cry or fight, nobody got bit, and when the dentist gave her a new toothbrush to take home, she even smiled at him and said, “Bye!”
So, for the next few weeks, Serenity is on a soft foods diet, and we have to keep a close eye on the color of her tooth, and make sure that she doesn’t wiggle it. We’re hopeful that it will firm back up on its own, or that if it is injured, that the solution will be easy, without pain or discomfort for our girl, and won’t affect her adult teeth when they come in. Prayers are appreciated!
So, will we let Serenity stand up in the tub in future?
Yes, actually. Surprised?
This was an unusual situation for her, and one that I could have most likely prevented had I been more prepared, and less distracted.
I was sitting right by the tub during her bath, but I was also on the phone with my sister. I was operating on autopilot, and had left her towel across the room, instead of bringing it tub-side at the beginning of her bath, so to dry her off, I had to walk across the bathroom to grab her towel. It was in those few seconds that I was out of reach that she tried to climb out of the tub by herself, and fell.
I’m not beating myself up, here, nor should you if you find yourself in a similar situation. Accidents happen, and it’s possible that she could have fallen with me right in front of her!
My point is that I don’t think her standing up in the tub was really the problem here. She knows that she is not allowed to climb out of the tub, and she ignored the rules, and suffered the unfortunate consequences. I wish that I had been on-task and able to catch her as she fell, and in future I will most definitely be careful to be fully prepared! But I think that making her sit down in the tub when the real problem was disobedience in trying to climb out on her own would be failing to match actions with consequences.
So I’ll continue to let her explore her world, even in the tub, as long as she is careful, follows the rules, and I am right there to stead her if she slips.