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Baby Swallows Bath Water: Why You Should Worry About It

Baby Swallows Bath Water

Sure, we all want our babies clean and healthy.

We don’t want any dirt or germs to make our babies sick. Yet, we couldn’t always ensure that our baby is safe while taking a bath.

Now, what do you do if your baby swallowed bath water? In small amounts? Large amounts? Is it dry drowning?

Don’t worry, and don’t panic! You’re in the right place at the right time.

Here’s a simple guide on what to do if your baby swallowed bath water.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

What Happens When a Baby Swallows Bathwater?

Now, you found out that your baby swallowed bath water. Should this be a reason for some concerns?

Well, if you think about it, there’s nothing to be worried about if your baby swallows bath water in small amounts.

It’s no surprise to see your baby swallow some bathwater while in the baby bathtub. But, it’s better to be SAFE than sorry.

Effects of Swallowing Bath Water in Babies

So, we look at the possible outcomes of your child swallowing bath water.

In most cases, your baby will not have any adverse reactions. Your little one can respond to swallowing bath water in different ways.

Normal Body Reactions

Right after they gulp some bathwater, your baby might cough and spit some water out of their mouth. They might have some discomfort after a forced gulp and might cry afterward.

If your baby burps inside the baby bath, chances are your baby swallowed bathwater. It’s their body’s way of telling you that the bathwater had reached their stomach.

As bathwater reaches your child’s stomach, other things might happen to your little one. So, look after them at all times for a sign or something more serious.

Intoxication by Harmful Substances

Your child might have swallowed soapy water or bathwater with baby shampoo or body wash. In the process, they might ingest some potentially toxic substances.

Soaps or body washes, for example, contain ingredients like triclosan, sodium laureth sulfates, and formaldehyde.

These chemicals can be DANGEROUS to your child’s body when taken in a large amount.

A baby shampoo also contains these harmful ingredients:

  • Parabens
  • Phthalates
  • Polyethylene glycols

In some cases, these chemicals can damage different organs over time.

Now, you saw how different baby cleaning products could cause a health issue or two for your little one.

Don’t panic! We’ll show you some tips to ensure that your baby products are SAFE and NON-TOXIC.

But, the bathwater itself could be a problem for your child. We’ll talk more about it in a bit.

What to Do When Your Baby Swallowed Bath Water?

Baby in bath

So, how should you respond knowing your baby swallowed bathwater? As parents, you want to ensure that your baby is free from any sign of danger.

Yet, there’s no time to panic if you find your baby in a dangerous situation. 

How Much Bath Water Has Your Baby Swallowed?

The first thing you must do is to find out how much water your baby swallowed. Here’s something worth considering as parents.

You should not let your baby under six months old drink water. Babies of this age have tiny stomachs that CANNOT handle big amounts of water.

That’s why you should NEVER feed your child with diluted formula.

Has Your Baby Drunk Soapy Water?

Earlier, you knew that baby soaps or shampoo could harm your child if taken in large amounts.

Worse, your child is in danger if they swallow unwanted cleaning products such as dishwashing liquid or laundry soap.

Common Symptoms of Soap Intoxication

If you suspect your baby swallowed bath water with soap, watch for the following symptoms:

  • Upset stomach or abdominal pain
  • Frequent vomiting, which could have blood at some time
  • Blood in the stool
  • Difficulty breathing

You can do further tests to show other signs such as:

  • Decreased blood pressure,
  • Slower heart rate, or
  • Lowered blood pH

Has Your Child Swallowed Dirty Water?

Besides cleaning products, another thing to consider in your baby bath is harmful microbes such as bacteria.

Check if your baby has defecated in the bath water and ensure that the baby bathtub is clean at all times.

Call for Some Help

For more information and assistance, you can contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 any time, 24/7.

A representative will assist you in looking after your child, especially when you NEED to bring them to the emergency room.

If your baby does not show any signs or symptoms mentioned above, there’s nothing to be afraid of happening.

Continue monitoring your child as they develop one.

How to Prevent Your Baby from Swallowing Bath Water?

Baby in bath

We understand your struggles of bathing your baby as parents. It’s hard to watch your baby in their bath ALL THE TIME.

Sure, you can teach your child not to swallow bathwater. But, your child CANNOT avoid swallowing water while taking a bath.

Here are some tips you can try to prevent your children from swallowing bath water as much as possible.

Prepare Everything Your Baby Needs Before Bath Time

Your child’s safety is always in your hands when preparing their bath. With that, you should keep in mind a lot of things in doing so.

Get everything your baby needs for taking a bath before putting your child into the bath.

To save time keeping all your baby’s bath essentials, we recommend you purchase a basket, shelf, or other storage units for anything you need in bathing your child.

Have all the bathing supplies ready by your side. And keep your focus on your baby during their bath time.

Always Look After Your Baby

Once your child is in the bathtub, NEVER leave them alone!

Even if your child can already move their head and sit independently, they still need some supervision from parents.

In this way, you can watch every move of your child and prevent them from swallowing bathwater.

If you have an immediate concern outside the bathroom, have an adult look after your kids. When no one is available, take your baby from the bath and bring them with you anywhere you go.

Keep the Bathroom Safe

Now, we’re aware that some parents CAN’T afford to have a separate bathroom for their children.

You can still bathe your child in a regular bathroom, but here are some things you SHOULD always keep in mind.

Put a Bath Mat

There are many ways children can slip into the water or, worse, hit the edge of the tub if you leave them unattended.

So, be sure to lay a bath mat, not a towel, to reduce the chance of your child falling into an accident by a lot.

Install a Baby Bath Seat

Other parents worry about their children swallowing water while tilting their heads. To avoid this, you can put your baby on a baby bath seat.

Suction seats secure children in the bathtub because they put them high enough above the water. They have bars where children can hold on while their legs fit inside the holes as they sit comfortably.

Have Your Baby Wear a Bath Cap

Some children hate the feeling of water pouring over their heads. They either scream or push their parents’ hands away to express their dissatisfaction.

It’s one reason you should consider a baby bath visor or bath hat for your kids. A bath hat protects your baby’s face from pouring water.

As you wash their hair, the water goes down at the back of their head instead of their face. In this way, you prevent your baby from swallowing bathwater.

What Is Dry Drowning?

Baby wet in bathtub

You must understand that there are many types of drowning a person can experience.

There’s the traditional or wet drowning that could happen when your baby’s mouth is FULLY submerged under the water. So, be more careful and vigilant when your child is swimming at a pool.

Yet, there’s what you called dry drowning. It’s one type of drowning wherein a person’s airway is closed, making it harder to breathe.

There’s another type of drowning called secondary drowning. While dry/secondary drowning rarely occur, you should still keep them on your watch.

Can My Baby Get Dry Drowning From a Bath?

Dry drowning happens when one inhales water through their nose or mouth, as opposed to swallowing water.

So, when your baby swallowed any amount of bath water, they would not experience dry drowning. It’s because ingested water goes into the stomach, while inhaled water can reach the lungs.

Yet, there are still MANY WAYS your baby can suffer from dry drowning during bath time.

Your baby can inhale a large amount of water when their face is submerged under the water. They might also breathe heavily when they’re afraid of water, making them inhale some water and lead to dry drowning.

How Do I Know If My Baby Is Dry Drowning? — Signs to Look Out For

Now, if you suspect your baby inhaled some bath water and is dry drowning, look for any sign indicating dry and secondary drowning.

It’s easy to spot any sign of dry drowning upon knowing your child inhaled a lot of water.

In dry drowning, the inhaled water only reaches the vocal cords. It can cause spasms that will eventually close the airways.

With that, check for the following symptoms of dry drowning:

  • Difficulty breathing (could be rapid or shallow)
  • Excessive coughing or wheezing
  • Chest pain or chest sinking inward
  • Lethargy or fatigue
  • Blue skin or change in skin color
  • Unconsciousness or change in behavior

If you see these dry drowning symptoms are manifested by your child, don’t hesitate to go to the nearest hospital site.

The doctors will further diagnose your child’s condition to prescribe appropriate treatments or interventions.

How Do You Know If Your Child Aspirated Water?

Worse things can happen beyond dry drowning when the inhaled water reaches your baby’s lungs. We know that water is not supposed to go to your lungs.

So, water that reaches the lungs can cause inflammation of the lungs. The lungs get inflamed HOURS or DAYS after inhaling water. 

If left UNTREATED, the inflammation can impair the function of the lungs. Water in the lungs prevents oxygen from entering the bloodstream, succumbing your child to death.

As soon as you see the following symptoms, rush immediately to the nearest emergency room to prevent any complications.

  • Troubled/difficulty breathing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Choking or vomiting
  • Lethargy

You can notice that the symptoms of secondary drowning are somewhat similar to the symptoms of dry drowning.

Whether it’s dry drowning or secondary drowning, consult a doctor IMMEDIATELY.

Again, swallowing bath water cannot cause dry drowning or secondary drowning. Dry and secondary drowning can occur at any site where there’s enough water to immerse your child.

What Is Water Intoxication?

Baby being washed in bath

While swallowing bathwater CANNOT cause dry and secondary drowning, it can still harm your little one in another way. 

Babies will have a hard time dealing with swallowed water because they have small stomachs.

Too much water can disrupt sodium balance in their bodies, resulting in several problems if NOT managed properly.

If you suspect your child has swallowed much water, look for the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The following symptoms indicate severe water intoxication:

  • Drowsiness
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Confusion or double vision
  • Troubled breathing
  • High blood pressure

Once you see these symptoms exhibited by your child, take them immediately to the ER to prevent further complications.

How to Prevent Water Intoxication?

Don’t worry.

There are a number of ways on how you can prevent water intoxication to your little one.

In general, you can also follow the tips we mentioned earlier. Aside from those, these are ADDITIONAL STEPS that can help you prevent your baby from experiencing water intoxication.

Use Non-Toxic Baby Bath Products

Additional chemicals can exacerbate the effects of water intoxication on your baby. So, you should avoid using toxic cleaning products on your baby.

You can opt for non-toxic shampoos and soaps for your baby. In that way, you can prevent your baby from ingesting harmful chemicals or anything toxic.

Perhaps, a mother would pick a shampoo that can strengthen and smoothen the hair, especially for their daughter.

However, you should be MORE CAUTIOUS about the ingredients included in baby shampoos.

While looking for baby cleaning products, stay away from toxic ingredients. There are several baby-friendly soaps and shampoos available in the market that you can purchase.

Teach Your Baby How to Swim

The most practical solution is to take your child to swimming lessons. Not only can they prevent swallowing water, but they are learning survival skills.

Once they have mastered the art of swimming, you can assure that their chances of swallowing and inhaling water become LOW.

While taking swimming lessons, your child can learn to hold their breath underwater.

With that, you don’t have to worry whether you put your child in shallow or deep waters.

Another consideration is your child playing with organic baby bath games while taking a bath.

Some say that they distract them from swallowing water, but others say that playing increases the chance of your baby swallowing bath water.

It would be up to you. As a mother, you know what’s best for your child.

Final Thoughts

Mother giving baby a bath

Bath time is one of the most important parts of your baby’s daily routine. You could make it fun as you teach your child the importance of being clean.

But, you should always ensure your child’s safety and wellness, even during bath time. In doing so, you can prevent accidents like your baby swallowing water or drowning.

Want to know more? Read our other articles for more parenting hacks and guides.

FINAL MOMMY TIP: For more questions about hygiene-related topics, you can take a look at our Complete Guide About Baby Hygiene to help you out.

About the author

Angelica Graham

A few years ago, Angelica found out about all the plastic and toxic ingredients that got into most children’s products. And this worried her to no end. Because of this, she began to research what the best ingredients and materials were for children and made it her mission to share this information with other mothers.