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Bubble baths have been linked to urinary tract infections (UTIs) so experts recommend avoiding them until your child is at least 3 years old.
Bubble bath formulas, as well as strong soaps that contain deodorants or potent scents, can irritate the opening of your baby's urethra (where urine comes out) if the soap is not rinsed off completely. "This makes it painful to urinate so the child ends up holding the urine and voiding incompletely, which can lead to UTIs," says Shelly J. King, a pediatric urology nurse practitioner at the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
According to the American Foundation for Urologic Disease, girls are more likely to get UTIs. In boys, UTIs occur almost exclusively in those younger than six months who are uncircumcised. To prevent UTIs in girls and boys:
- Don't let your child soak in a tub full of soapy water or bubble bath.
- If your child is toilet trained, encourage her to urinate after bathing, This will empty her bladder of any bacteria that could lead to a UTI.
- If your child is prone to UTIs, or complains that urinating is painful after a bubble bath, avoid bubble baths altogether until puberty or at least until your child can thoroughly rinse her own bottom.
It can be difficult to know if your child has a UTI, especially if she's too young to tell you about her symptoms. She may have a fever but no other signs of illness. She may wet her diapers more frequently than usual, or her urine may have a strong smell or be tinged with blood.
If your child can talk, she may tell you it hurts when she urinates. Some children become very irritable, others vomit, have diarrhea, or don't have their usual appetite. Because an untreated UTI can cause kidney damage, it's important to see a doctor if you suspect your child has one. Learn more about urinary tract infections in babies and toddlers.