My Baby Swallowed Bath Water [This is What I Did First]

baby swallowed bath water

Bathing your little one can boost bonding and love. More often than not, your baby will calm down when she feels your body against her.

Another advantage of bathing with your child is the sense of well-being. It is a time-saver and can keep the baby from swallowing bath water or dry drowning.

Bath time should be fun, but it could worry parents dealing with newborns swallowing bath water. It is natural for babies or young kids to panic when you pour water over their heads.

Some infants can easily fall over in the bathtub and accidentally swallow some bath water. For parents familiar with dry drowning, this situation can be stressful.  

If your baby swallowed bath water accidentally, read on to learn how to deal with it.

How to Bathe with Your Baby

If your tub does not have a non-slip mat, lay one down right now so that neither you nor your baby slide around. Even if your baby is sitting, she could easily take a nosedive if she slips.

If you take a bath with your baby, always hold her with both hands the entire time.  

Keep her wet and warm throughout the bath to keep her from getting chilly. You may use a plastic cup to pour bath water over her body.

Tuck the baby in a towel and hand her to someone first before you get out of the tub.  

It’s a beautiful experience to share a bath with your baby. Ultimately, though, it will be more about water play.   

Handling Bath Time Fears

You should take a child’s fear of water seriously. Don’t force them into the bath if they’re afraid.

Make your child feel safe by placing a washcloth on her tummy or chest to help her feel secure. This will also keep regulating her temperature. 

It is easier for babies and newborns to know what to expect if they have a bath routine – for example, singing a silly rhyme or a unique bath song when you dry her with a towel. 

Newborn babies usually are insecure in the bath water. They might dislike temperature changes, floating, or getting water in their face.

Your child or toddler might be afraid of the sound made by water draining, slipping under the water, inhaling water, or getting water on their face. Use suction seats to prevent babies from slipping.

What Happens if You Swallow Bath Water?

If your baby swallowed soapy water accidentally, don’t panic. This is a common occurrence, and while your baby may sputter, cough, or burp, most cases of drinking bath water do not cause a reaction. Most bath products are not poisonous in small quantities. If your baby accidentally swallows bath water, don’t worry.

This situation may happen frequently, particularly when you pour water over her head and she is constantly on the move.  

However, there are signs you should look out for if the baby swallows bath water and several ways to prevent it from happening.

Even if you are using a baby bathtub, using bath mats will prevent the baby from slipping into the water and swallowing bath water.

What Happens if A Baby Drinks Soap Water?

If your baby swallows a large amount of water, look out for water intoxication symptoms because brain activity can be affected.

Watch for the most apparent signs, like swelling or puffiness of the face, drowsiness, irritability, or any drastic mental changes. 

Water intoxication is a rare medical event, but if your baby swallows lots of bathwater, there is a risk that some harmful substances are also ingested.

These substances can dilute the electrolytes in the baby’s bloodstream, leading to low body temperature or seizures. 

Intoxication by harmful substances can be inconspicuous to the untrained eye. If you suspect water intoxication or your baby is having a seizure, call 911. 

Symptoms of Soap Intoxication

It is common for babies to swallow bath water, but bath water mixed with shampoo or soap is different because many shampoos include toxic ingredients.

Some soaps and shampoos contain lauryl sulfate and other substances that are harmful to the infant and could lead to stomach upset. This doesn’t usually happen because babies are most likely to spit it up right away due to the unpleasant taste.

For your child’s well-being, search for non-toxic shampoos that are good for the little one’s skin. Tear-free products have no harmful ingredients for babies with sensitive eyes and skin.

Parents should also be aware of soap and shampoo ingredients marketed to be fragrance-free, BPA-free, and phthalate-free, as these contain harmful components.

If your baby swallowed a large amount of bath water with soap and shampoo, call a Poison Control Center if you’re in the U.S.  

What is Dry Drowning?

Many parents are surprised to learn that dry drowning and secondary drowning can be fatal.

Dry drowning is a delayed drowning. It happens when a baby unintentionally inhales water into the windpipe and causes the muscles to spasm, emulating the feeling of drowning and suffocating when the water enters the airways and into the lungs.

It’s understandable to worry about dry or secondary drowning, but it rarely happens. Remember that it does not constitute dry drowning if your baby swallows bath water. 

Use a bath seat to keep your baby from drinking bath water. Baby bath seats also come with swivels to allow you to swing your baby around. This seat will also reduce the chance of accidentally swallowing water.

Dry Drowning Versus Secondary Drowning?

Dry drowning sounds scary. This is when the baby accidentally inhales water which causes muscle spasms that block the airway. Secondary drowning, however, happens when inhaled water goes into the lungs. A baby swallowing bath water won’t typically cause drowning.

Let’s look at it this way. Drowning mainly occurs as a result of immersion or submersion. Immersion occurs when water is splashed on the baby and enters the airway, and submersion is when the baby’s airway goes below the water’s surface. 

When water enters the airway, our instinct is to swallow it or spit it out. With continued water exposure, we are forced to hold our breath. If our capacity to hold our breath is exceeded, we are forced to inhale and aspirate water into our airway, leading to uncontrollable coughing until hypoxia begins. 

Secondary drowning occurs if the baby inhales bath water that ends up in the lungs and lingers, irritating the lung and causing pulmonary edema and difficulty breathing. 

How Do I Know if My Baby Aspirated Water?

How Do I Know if My Baby Aspirated Water?

Aspirating a bit of bath water is not dangerous, but aspirating a lot of bath water is unsafe. 

If your baby ingested a lot of bath water and did not spit it up, look for water intoxication symptoms like difficulty breathing, drowsiness, irritability, or swelling.

If your child had a coughing spell when swimming, consider a secondary drowning. Call your pediatrician immediately. If your pediatrician cannot respond within 30 minutes, seek medical attention from elsewhere.  

 Many kids and adults cough in the water, but dry and secondary drowning are exceedingly rare.

This Is The First Thing I Did After My Baby Swallowed Bath Water

In most cases, nothing will happen if your baby accidentally inhales soapy water. Your baby might sputter a little or cough and throw up, but they’ll be fine soon after.

And, if your baby burped when she swallowed bath water, the water didn’t go into her stomach.

The only time you should be worried is when your baby swallows bath water and then shows signs of an upset stomach, difficulty breathing, or chest pain because this means they are not getting enough oxygen.

Apart from the forced gulp, it will not be painful if your baby swallows only a tiny amount of water. Look out for signs of choking, difficulty in breathing, and coughing that won’t stop.

Teaching your baby to swim early is a great idea to reduce the chance of inhaling or swallowing bath water. 

Final Thoughts

It is natural for parents of newborns or infants to be concerned if their baby swallows bath water, but it’s no big deal.

Fortunately, most cases don’t result in anything critical. Most babies spit up the water, especially if it is soapy.

Still, you must look for signs to ensure your baby is fine. If you notice an upset tummy or a change in behavior or color, seek medical attention or contact the Poison Control Center to get your child to an emergency room quickly.

Even the most minor symptoms can develop into infections or pneumonia. Remember, nothing beats the pediatrician’s advice or that of other healthcare professionals.

Stephanie Edenburgh

I'm Steph, a mom to 3 beautiful children and lover all things having to do with my family and being a mom. I've learned a lot raising my own children and working in education and healthcare roles throughout my career. Living in beautiful Southern California I enjoy documenting and writing about all of the hard work us mom's do on a daily basis.

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