A coroner issued a grim warning to parents after a seven-month-old baby was found drowned in a few inches of bath water.

The baby’s mother left her son in the bathroom with his two-year-old sister while she left the room quickly to boil a kettle.

Joanna Pedlow told the inquest how she put him into his bath seat next to his sister before leaving the room, saying that it seemed to be firmly attached to the bath with suction cups.

Baby Alex McCartney was discovered face down in the bath, with the seat tipped over to one side. The family made desperate attempts to revive him but he never regained consciousness. He died in hospital in his mother’s arms four days later.

Even the shallowest of water

At the inquest into his death, the coroner, Suzanne Anderson, warned of the dangers of leaving young children alone in the bath.

“This has highlighted the dangers posed when a child is left unsupervised for a short period of time and even in the shallowest of water. Hopefully this message will serve to spare the agony this family has had to endure.”

Why are babies at risk of drowning?

Babies can drown in just a few centimetres of water, very quickly and with no noise or struggle. They can’t recognise danger and don’t have the strength to try to reach the surface.

This means babies need constant adult supervision while in water of any kind.

Our advice

While bath seats can be a useful tool in helping busy parents at bathtime, it's important to remember they’re just a support, and NOT a safety device.

Parents should NEVER leave their baby alone in the bath, even if the seat seems secure.

When you’re very busy and urgently need to do something, it’s tempting to think that an older child can briefly look after a younger sibling or at least raise the alarm if something goes wrong. But older children should never be given the responsibility of looking after a younger brother or sister in the bath, as a two or three-year-old is not old enough to recognise danger or act appropriately.

We are concerned that bath seats can give parents a false sense of security. Please share our safety advice to help prevent future tragedies.