I can remember asking these very same questions six years ago! My baby swallowed bath water – what should I do? No, I was a new mom, do not judge me! It happened so fast, and I was so restless for the next few hours after the incident.
Yes, I rushed to the hospital in my oversized tees and flip-flops. To everyone I encountered, I said – my baby swallowed bath water! Not only did I get the attention of the pediatric team at the Royal London Hospital, UK, but I also got the best advice which I will sum up with my years of research and share in this article.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about a baby swallowing bath water – the precautions and treatment, and how to prevent drowning. It is a super-packed article with loads of expert advice and experience-backed information. So, if you are ready as I am, let’s get to it already!
What Can Happen If A Baby Swallowed Bath water?
If you ask ten persons this particular question, I can bet you that they will have all something negative to tell you. While it is true that there is a possibility of your baby falling ill after swallowing bath water, on many occasions, this does not occur.
Bath water contains a lot of scary stuff – do not take this for granted. Typical bath water contains soap, shampoo, and maybe your baby’s urine. Yes, the soothing comfort of the bath water makes your baby pee in the bath water. Also, the bath water contains dead skin and germ-causing bacteria.
However, you should save yourself the panic and worries, because a few sips of the bathwater is not enough to make your baby sick! After calming me down at the hospital and checking my baby’s temperature at the hospital, the doctors told me that the amount of water usually dilutes the other substances in the tub and makes it less dangerous to babies.
If consumed in a large amount – which should not be the case, because as a nursing mother or caregiver, you shouldn’t leave your baby that long in water to risk drowning, it can cause stomach upset. It can also result in water intoxication as a result of the harmful substances in the water.
But what really is water intoxication, and how can it be harmful to your baby? You will find out this and more in the subsequent session.
Water Intoxication by Harmful substances When Baby Swallows Bath Water
Like we highlighted earlier, the habit of swallowing bath water is common in babies, and should naturally not be a cause for concern. It may make them cough or experience a spit-up, but it is not likely to make the baby ill or have a reaction.
However, nursing others and caregivers should be vigilant and prevent babies from swallowing bath water. Although it is a rare occurrence, your baby is exposed to the possibility of water intoxication when they swallow large amounts of bath water.
Water intoxication in itself is not limited to when a baby swallows a large amount of bath water, rather, it is a condition that is likely to occur as a result of a baby swallowing – or drinking too much water. Water is good, but when a baby takes water in excess, it dilutes the chemical components in the baby’s body.
According to experts, too much water in the baby’s system can dilute the sodium, calcium, and potassium components, which can lead to decreased sodium or hypernatremia. When this occurs, the cells in the baby’s body will begin to swell with water, and this becomes more dangerous if the baby’s brain cells begin to swell as well – it can lead to brain damage.
Symptoms of Water Intoxication in Babies
Water intoxication is one of the things I was fascinated about during my research, and we will discuss a little about it before going on to talk about what happens if a baby swallowed bath water.
When a baby starts vomiting at night consistently, it can be as a result of many reasons – from a harmless infection to something more serious such as water intoxication. In such a situation, you should look out for behavioral changes in the baby and swelling of the arm, legs, and even face.
In a situation where you notice these symptoms and changes, it is best to consult the medical expert who has examined your baby before.
How to Prevent Water Intoxication in Babies
Let us go straight to this without beating around the bush. To prevent water intoxication in babies, you need to make sure they do not take too much water – whether it is bath water or drinking water.
Below, we have highlighted a few precautions to take in order to prevent water intoxication in babies. Check them out:
- Always follow approved guidelines when mixing baby meals with water so as not to use too much water.
- Do not dilute breast milk or infant formula with water before feeding a baby if under six months.
- Until your baby is over six months and only when needed, do not give your baby water. The water content in the baby is enough to sustain a baby until they are six months and over.
How To Prevent Baby from Swallowing Bath water
Yes, back to what to do when a baby swallowed bath water. What is it they say about prevention being better than cure – well, it is. Rather than having to worry about the possible implications that will result if your baby swallowed bath water, it is best to try and prevent it.
But how can you prevent your baby from swallowing bath water? Again, vigilance is the key! Vigilance is the chief duty of a nursing mother or caregiver, I know it is not as easy as it sounds, and you can only experience it to understand it, but we have to be vigilant.
1. Do Not Put Your Baby in a Bath Tub Unsupervised
A lot of nursing mothers make the mistake of putting their babies into a bath tub as a way of keeping them calm and engaged while they attend to other things. Well, this is very risky and should not be considered.
Instead, always supervise your baby during baths or showers to prevent them from not only swallowing bath water, but from water intoxication or drowning.
2. Watch Out for the Bath Toys
Babies love to put things in their mouths – especially their toys. To a baby, anything that gets into the hand should be in the mouth. You have to monitor and make them understand that putting their toys in the mouth during baths is not acceptable. Through this, the baby may consume bath water in large amounts.
3. Do Not Fill the Bath Tubs with Water
Avoid filling a baby’s bath top with too much water. Even when you are going into the bathtub yourself, you should only put a limited amount of water in a baby’s bathtub. The low water level in the tub will make it difficult for water to enter the baby’s mouth unconsciously.
What is Dry Drowning?
There are no two ways about this – it is either you know what Dry Drowning is or you don’t – and there is no room for bluffing either. I first heard about Dry Drowning during a pregnancy class organized for expecting mothers. In my usual manner, I made sure to ask the instructor to explain further on Dry Drowning – much to the irritation of some of the other participants in the class.
Interestingly, when the instructor began to emphasize the topic, it was evident that even those who thought they were vast in the subject had more to learn. Dry Drowning is a term used to describe the situation where a baby inhales bath water either through the nose or mouth – so it has nothing to do with physically swallowing the water itself, as many believe.
Instead, in this type of drowning, water doesn’t get to the lungs but inhaling the water causes a contraction in the vocal cords – causing it to close up. When this occurs, the baby’s airways are closed up, and it becomes difficult to breathe.
Should You Be Worried About Dry Drowning?
No, you shouldn’t worry about Dry Drowning, but you need to be cautious. Dry Drowning in itself doesn’t necessarily need to cause any worry or alarm. But in some cases, there can be severe consequences that could result from other factors or the level of toxic substances in the water.
Dry Drowning is usually mistaken for secondary drowning – which is more dangerous. But like I always say, when in doubt, seek medical advice.
How Do I Know If My Child Is Dry Drowning?
There are many misconceptions about Dry Drowning, but you can notice the signs right away, unlike in other cases. As a result of this, it is somewhat easy to know if a child is experiencing Dry Drowning.
Your baby is Dry Drowning if you notice any of the following symptoms. You should seek medical advice if they persist. The signs of Dry Drowning include:
- Severe Coughing
- Continuous Restlessness
- Abnormal Breathing
- Foaming from Mouth or Nose
- Pains around the Chest Area
What To Do If You Are Worried About Dry Drowning
As I have always said, always trust your instincts. If you suspect and are worried that your child is experiencing Dry Drowning, then that is probably the case.
You should consult the medical practitioner that has examined the baby before. Also, as a point of note, you should try to remain calm so as not to escalate the issues by causing panic in the baby. On many occasions, you will find out that the issue is not as severe as you had naturally thought – just like in my case.