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Are Hot Water Bottles Safe for Children? 5 Pieces of Advice

Updated: Jan 21, 2023


Tips for children using hot water bottles illustration

Are you thinking of giving your young children an extra source of warmth and comfort for the winter? Is your child sick, staying at home and in need of soothing stomach pain?


Hot water bottles can be of help, depending on how old your child is. Let us dive into when you can use a hot water bottle for your children and when not.


The following advice is based on our knowledge and the official instructions given by Fashy, a renowned hot water bottle manufacturer (since 1948).


Are hot water bottles safe for children?

Hot water bottles are safe for children above 3 years old. Using hot water bottles for babies and toddlers can represent risks as their skin is still very sensitive and can get burnt from the hot water bottle. Regardless of how old your children are, make sure you safely fill the hot water bottle and that it's properly sealed. Use a cover to prevent direct contact with their skin and avoid leaving your children with a hot water bottle unsupervised.


5 golden rules when using hot water bottles for children

Rules for children using hot water bottles

1. Check the hot water bottle is safe for use

Before safely giving your child a hot water bottle, there are a few safety boxes to tick. Below are a few points you need to make sure of to prevent accidents.


British Safety Standard

First of all, make sure the hot water bottle you are using has the BS 1970:2012 label. In most cases, this is indicated on the neck or body of your hot water bottle. In addition, it should be mentioned in the instructions you received with your item when you purchased it.


The BS 1970:2012 label is a British Safety Standard to which manufacturers need to adhere in order to sell hot water bottles. It guarantees the robustness of your item and its overall quality, of which you want to be sure before giving a hot water bottle to your child.


Check your hot water bottle is in good condition and hasn't expired

After checking for the BS 1970:2012 label, look for your hot water bottle's expiry date. This will be indicated on your bottle with a stamp: the daisy wheel.


The illustration below explains how to read a daisy wheel. In this case, the hot water bottle was manufactured in the first week of January 2022. If your hot water bottle is older than 2 years, consider purchasing a new one, especially if you're not sure you stored your hot water bottle correctly.


Hot water bottle daisy wheel explanation

After that, check the hot water bottle doesn't have any cracks, leaks, or signs of wear and tear before use. We also recommend you perform a thorough leak check by filling the hot water bottle with cold water and gently squeezing it over a sink.


Not leaks? You can start filling the bottle. Welcome to the next step!


2. Fill your hot water bottle carefully

Once you've checked that your hot water bottle is in good condition, fill it correctly to ensure it's safe for your children.


Use hot water, not boiling water

Manufacturers advise not to fill hot water bottles with boiling water as this may damage them and lead to leaks in the long run. Boil water and let it cool down for approximately 10 minutes before pouring it into your hot water bottle. For children, the surface of the hot water bottle shouldn't be above 42 degrees Celsius.


Fill it up to 2/3 of the maximum capacity

To ensure maximum safety for your little ones, make sure to only fill your hot water bottle up to two-thirds of its maximum capacity. This will prevent too much pressure from building it and avoid accidental bursts.


Push the air out of your hot water bottle

In line with the previous point, gently push the air out of the hot water bottle before sealing it. This will also keep the pressure low inside your bottle. What you want to avoid is your bottle feeling like a balloon" which can pop. Children love popping balloons, don't tempt them!


Gently lay the hot water bottle on its side while holding it by the neck. Bend the neck upwards while pushing the air with your fingers. Once most of the air is out, you can seal the bottle by screwing the stopper on (hot water bottle cap).


Full hot water bottle

Hot water bottle filled two thirds

Check for leaks one last time after screwing the stopper on

Once the stopper is screwed on, turn it upside down over the sink to make sure there are no leaks. If there are leaks, try screwing the stopper on and off again and perform the test again.


No leaks? You're good to go! Leaks? Try again. If the problem persists, your hot water bottle is not safe for use by your children (or by you). Purchase another one!


3. Use a hot water bottle cover

While hot water bottles look harmless when sealed, the heat can damage your children's skin over time. This holds especially true when your children's skin is in direct contact with a hot water bottle, which is not recommended.


Make sure your children's skin is protected at all times by using a hot water bottle cover. There are many types of covers out there, some made of cotton, others made of wool, and even some made of cashmere if you want to get something fancy! A cover will also keep your hot water bottle warm for longer.


Adults can also use towels, kitchen cloths, or clothing as alternatives to hot water bottle covers. We do not recommend this for children, as an "alternative cover" merely wrapped around the bottle and not tied to it may slip or be misplaced, resulting in direct contact between your child's skin and the hot water bottle. Too risky.


Hot water bottle with white cover

4. Supervise your children while they use a hot water bottle

Hot water bottle manufacturers recommend our warm friends not be used by children less than 36 months (3 years old).


That being said: children using hot water bottles should be supervised at all times until the age at which they will become aware of the dangers of misusing hot water bottles.


In sum, this is up to you! I would personally feel comfortable leaving my child with a hot water bottle from the age of 8 onwards, after having taken the time to explain how a hot water bottle should be used and the dangers associated with the misuse.


5. Explain to your children how hot water bottles are used

Who doesn't love a bit of pedagogy? Children are smart (except when they're tired, hungry, or had too much sugar) and you can take time to explain how hot water bottles should be used.


Here are a few points you can raise for example. The point of this article is not to give the impression that hot water bottles are absolute hazards. The goal is to inform you about how accidents can be prevented. You can use the same approach for your children!


Mother and child hot water bottle icon

Benefits

  • "Here's a hot water bottle to keep you nice and warm. Feels nice, right Sweetie Pops?"

  • "Do you have a tummy ache? Maybe you can try this hot water bottle, it will keep you warm and make your tummy better"

  • "If your muscles are a bit sore from football, you can use a hot water bottle on your legs to feel better!"


What to watch out for

  • "Sweetie, the water in here is very hot, only let Mummy or Daddy open the cap, you shouldn't touch it!" (If your children are the curious type, you can tell them they can practice using cold water: why not show them how it's done?)

  • "You can use this hot water bottle for your cold little legs, arms, and tummy. If it gets too hot, feel free to take it off or tell me and I'll tightly wrap it with an extra piece of cloth over the cover"

  • "It's important you keep the cover on the hot water bottle. Without a cover, it's not good for your skin and can hurt you"

  • "You shouldn't sit or stand on the hot water bottle, it can go boom and you might hurt yourself, the water is hot!"


Some parents like using more simple language to explain things. Others like using more "sophisticated and technical language" as we adults do. This is fine! If you prefer using "adult hot water bottle lingo", you can read this article with your children: Hot Water Bottle Instructions: 13 Golden Rules.


Hot water bottle and family icon

Alternatives to hot water bottles for your children

Some of you may not be comfortable giving your children hot water bottles, whether supervised or not.


This is perfectly understandable!


There are many alternatives to hot water bottles, which will also keep your children warm during the winter. For instance, heat packs or an electric blanket will also do the trick. We're in the process of writing content on how these can best be used for your children, stay tuned!


Final thoughts

Hot water bottles can be great companions for children, keeping them warm on cold days, and soothing their aches and pains on sick days. Hot water bottles have the same benefits for children as they have for adults (read our article on the benefits of hot water bottles).


The key takeaway from this article is you need to be extra cautious when it comes to children using hot water bottles:

  • Do not use hot water bottles for children under 36 months

  • Use a hot water bottle cover to avoid direct contact with their skin

  • Avoid leaving children with a hot water bottle unsupervised and explain to them how to use a hot water bottle

Once you've done that, your children are ready to benefit from the cosiness and warmth of a nice hot water bottle.


Enjoy!


Fashy hot water bottle instructions

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