Hot tubs can definitely be dangerous for very young children, including babies, for a number of reasons:
The high temperature of the water can cause burns or scalds, which is especially concerning since young children and babies have much moresensitive skin than adults.
Additionally, hot tubs can cause dehydration in young children as they don’t sweat as well as adults do.
Perhaps one of the most serious dangers is drowning. Young children who aren’t yet able to swim or could accidentally slip under the water are at risk, especially when playing around as all young children do.
If you have young children in your family or are planning to have children soon, it’s also important to keep age suitability in mind when shopping for your hot tub.
Make sure to also search for models that come equipped with safety features like child-proof locks and a lockable safetycover. Thoughtfully selecting the right hot tub can give you peace of mind and ensure that your family can safely enjoy their spa time together!
Ways that you can help your children avoid fully immersing themselves in the hot temperatures of your hot tub are by purchasing booster seats or jump seats, allowing them to keep their upper torso out of the water and better regulate their temperature.
As a safety precaution, it’s highly recommended that childrenunder the age of five should NOT use hard-shell orinflatable hot tubs.
The Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and other medical professionals and safety bodies have generally recommended that children under the age of 5 years old should NOT use a hot tub or be subjected to extremely warm baths due to potential risks of overheating, heat stroke, dehydration, and bacterial infection.
The same advice also applies to pregnant and expecting mothers looking to use a hot tub to relax, however, we recommend that you read our full blog regarding hot tubs and pregnancy here!
Swim Safe Alternatives
If you’re in a position to stretch your budget, we recommend that you take a look at Swim Spas as opposed to a hot tub if you have smaller children under the age of 5.
Swim spas are set at much lower water temperatures when compared to hot tubs (typically between 28°C & 31°C), and also allow your little ones to have fun and practice their swimming against the currents of the spa.
Dual Zone Swim Spas are a fantastic option as they combine both a hot tub and a swim spa into one shell, allowing you to keep a watchful eye on the kids while you enjoy the hydrotherapy benefits of the hot tub next door!
This way, young children can still enjoy a hot tub-like experience in a much safer environment, so be sure to request a FREE magazine from our sister publication WhatSwimSpa? if you want to read the highest quality Swim Spa reviews and buying information!
Using Hot Tubs to Assist Child Birth
The hot tub, known in Brazil as the ofurô, has been used in Brazil as a form of aquatic physiotherapy, to contribute to the reduction of stress, length of hospital stay, and favouring the weight gain of pre-term newborns with low body weights.
It consists of immersing the newborn in a hot tub of warm water up to shoulder height, helping to simulate the sensation of the mother’s uterus and assisting with delivery.
A Brazilian study published in 2017 found that the effects of hot tub exposure on 21 pre-term newborns did not present any cardiorespiratory alterations, cause any pain, stress, or any kind of intercurrence, with conclusions suggesting that hot tub exposure during childbirth could be regarded as safe conduct.
It is to be noted that the hot tubsused in Brazilian medicine do not contain any of the conventional water chemistry chemicals that are required in hard-shell hot tubs, therefore the findings are not generalisable to commercially sold hot tubs here in the UK or US.
What the Scientific Literature Has to Say
Despite promising research suggesting that hot tub use and warm water exposure may be beneficial for newborns in South America, there are still published case studies detailing the dangers of hot tub exposure on babies in the Western World, with a Canadian newborn in 2017 developing Legionellosis following a water birth in a hot tub.
None of these research studies however suggest that hot tubs are safe for babies, and it is still recommended by WhatSpa? and Medical Bodies such as the CDC that babies under six months oldshould not be exposed to a spa temperature above 100°F (37.8°C) due to the risk of overheating and dehydration.
As well as the danger of hot water exposure, babies can also easily swallow water in a hot tub, which can lead to severe illness or injury given the vast amount of chemicals that the water must be treated with, therefore, we advise that it’s best to avoid taking your baby in any kind of hot tub with a maximum temperature of above 37.8°C.
Understanding Hot Tub Age Restrictions
Put simply, babies and toddlers should not be allowed in hot tubs until they reach the age of five for their safety, as their delicate skin is not suitable for the high temperatures of the hot water.
WhatSpa? recommends that you stick to a 5-year age restriction when using your tub, as introducing younger toddlers to the hot chemically treated waters is just not worth the risk.
Babies and young children have thinner skin and lower body weight than adults, making them more susceptible to risks such as skin irritation, heatstroke and breathing difficulties, therefore safety should always be paramount when introducing your child to a hot tub.
If your children are over the age of 5, it is still recommended that you limit the temperature of the hot tub to a maximum of 35°C (compared to the standard 38°C – 40°C range), and only allow older children to fully submerge themselves in the tub for a maximum of five minutes at a time, allowing their body to cool down and regulate temperatures frequently to mitigate risk.
For those times when you’re enjoying the hot tub and your baby is near, it’s important to ensure your hot tub is baby-proof.
To keep your little ones safe while enjoying your hot tub, we’ve laid out a few important guidelines you should aim to follow to keep your mind at rest:
When the hot tub is not in use, be sure to securely lock the cover in place using the safety locks to prevent unsupervised access.
Ensure you keep your hot tub area clear of any hazardous objects or chemicals, and be sure to immediately clean up any spills.
Install a circuit breaker and cover to the power supply for added safety and to prevent unwanted accidents.
Always reiterate to your children that running in the vicinity of your hot tub is off-limits, as the landscaped area around your tub is likely to be very slippery.
If your children are ill or suffering from symptoms of illness such as the Flu, avoid using the hot tub completely.
Make sure children do not touch the water filter or heater, and be sure to tell them not to put their fingers in the massage jets.
Ensure there is an adult designated to supervise young children while they are in the hot tub.
Ensure younger girls with long hair tieit back or put it up to avoid any hair entanglement incidents with the filtration system and other surrounding areas.
Do not allow children (or adults) of any age to jump or dive in the tub, as this is likely to result in nasty accidents.
If your children have open wounds or cuts on their skin from playing around, ensure they don’t use a well-chlorinated hot tub as it may cause irritated skin and pain.
Don’t let children in the hot tub drink the hot tub water, simply keep plastic or acrylic cups of fresh water around the tub or in the tub’s ice buckets to keep them well hydrated.
The Final Word
While the hot tub experience can be a fun and relaxing activity for adults, it’s important to remember that it can also be dangerous for young children and babies.
While it might be tempting to introduce your baby to the relaxing waters of a hot tub, it’s generally recommended to wait until they’re at least 5 years old.
In the meantime, there are plenty of other ways to introduce your child to water that are both fun and safe alongside responsible adult supervision. Remember, whenever water is involved, always keep water safety your top priority!
Experts and Medical Bodies such as the Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommend avoiding hot tubs for small children under the age of 5 in the UK due to possible overheating and dehydration risks.
Even from ages 5 – 11, it is still necessary to be cautious when exposing and submerging a child’s body in hot waters above 100°F (37.8°C), so be sure to always check the water temperature with a reliable thermometer and never leave your childrenunattended during splash sessions!
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I am the Content Writer and Marketing Officer at WhatSpa? Magazine. I have worked at WhatSpa? for over 8 years, and I recently graduated with Distinction from Northumbria University with a Master's degree in Occupational and Organizational Psychology.
My role at WhatSpa? is to ensure that all hot tub lovers can easily access the highest quality and most up-to-date content, news and information from within the UK wet leisure industry.