After babies start teething, they'll stick almost anything in their mouths! Parents always start to freak out when this happens but it is actually a natural instinct for a baby to gnaw on things to soothe their aching gums as their razor sharp baby teeth start to poke through that tender tissue. Babies are also naturally curious about things and this is their way of exploring objects. Unfortunately, however, many babies end up dying from this as they choke or swallow poisons!
About four years before I got pregnant, my older sister had her baby. I was still in college and rented her basement apartment because she lived close to campus. So, I became the built-in babysitter when my sister and Dave would go out. I would also help watch my beautiful little niece when my sister was cooking, gardening, or was otherwise engaged. Looking back on it now, it was a great learning experience and helped prepare me for motherhood.
All the family and our friends complimented my sister on what a good baby Jessica was. She was always happy and would beam you a big contagious smile that would make your heart swell up -- that is right up until about a week before she turned six months old! That's when her first tooth came bursting through her sensitive gums and our sweet adorable Jessica turned into a irritable howling baby day and night. She cried and screamed all the time. Sometimes, she'd squeal at such high decibels the dog would run and hide for hours at a time! Even our family and friends made less frequent visits!
At the same time, baby Jessica started putting EVERYTHING in her mouth! We'd turn our heads for just a second and look back and she'd already have something else in her mouth. It was a constant uphill battle! It was frustrating at times but I really couldn't blame her. She was obviously miserable. It seemed like everyone started telling us stories about babies dying from swallowing things after they started teething.
This made us even more paranoid and constantly vigilant of course!
Somehow my sister and Jessica made it through the terrible teething months only to discover the terrible twos! Now it's my turn, and since I know what's coming, I have been doing a lot of research on how to keep babies from swallowing things so I can keep my baby safe. This research has led me to the many bizarre stories about babies swallowing things, some of them dying from it! Some of the things they swallow and die from I had never even considered a danger before! It's freaking me out a bit and I wanted to share some of these in hopes it will prevent some tragedies.
Here are some of the most bizarre and most frightening stories I've run across! I have verified the veracity of all of them.
1. Liquid Nicotine For E-cigarettes
On December, 10, 2014, a one year old boy in Fort Plain New York died after swallowing liquid nicotine intended for e-cigarettes. He died of extreme cardiac arrhythmia before the ambulance could even get there. His little heart just beat so fast from the concentrated nicotine, it gave out. Although there have now been laws passed to make the packaging on liquid nicotine more child proof as a result, in this particular case, it would not have mattered as the cap was left off! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a lethal dose of liquid nicotine is less than one-half teaspoon! In fact, even a tiny drop absorbed through a baby's mouth or skin can cause a dangerous medical situation.
I should also pass this information along to you too. According to data released by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been a rapid rise in the use of e-cigarettes and vaping among the younger generations. In fact, in just one year, between 2013 and 2014, the use of vaping devices tripled among high schoolers! These devices have also become quite fashionable in the twenty-something and thirty-something crowd, especially since liquid nicotine now comes in many enticing flavors. This is of course the age at which most people have babies so it is something to be keenly aware of if you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant. Even if you do not vape, your friends or family might, so please be careful!
2. Button Batteries
You probably don't know it but inside that musical birthday card you got from your friend is lurking an item that has killed several babies and seriously injured thousands more! This item is the button battery that makes the music possible.
Button batteries are round little lithium batteries. They are found in toys, interactive books, musical greeting cards, hearing aids, remote controls, watches, penlights, calculators, ornaments, and more. In other words, they are found in things that a teething baby finds absolutely irresistible!
The statistics on babies swallowing these types of batteries is alarming! According to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, an estimated 3400 babies and toddlers swallowed button batteries in 2010 alone! According to CBS news, an estimated 40,000 children have visited the emergency room after swallowing these button batteries. In fact, at least fifteen babies have died from these button batteries!
Even when the baby does not die, the electric charge created when the battery comes in contact with the baby's saliva often causes severe permanent damage. For example, an eight month old baby in New Zealand just this year (2015) has been left permanently unable to speak, or even breath without assistance, after swallowing a button battery. In other cases, babies and children end up hemorrhaging to death as the electric charge eats through their internal tissues! In fact, this is exactly what happened to a thirteen month old baby in Ohio after swallowing a watch battery!
Please be extra careful about leaving anything containing a button battery anywhere near a baby!
3. Diaper Bags
While diaper bags are made from various materials, the disposable ones are made from thin plastic. In 2013, a six month old baby in Gloucester England was found dead in her crib with a plastic diaper bag lodged in her mouth and across her face. During the investigation, it was determined that the nappy bag had been pulled by the baby through slats of her crib and she either inhaled through her mouth or tried to swallow it.
English officials started an awareness campaign of how dangerous nappy bags can be after this tragedy. There had been several other deaths due to babies ingesting nappy bags, including one in 2007 where a baby had been left for only a few minutes on a play mat while the mother answered the phone! When the Mother returned, she found her baby with parts of the bag lodged in both his mouth and nose!
4, A Marshmallow
This one is truly bizarre! In March of 2011, a family was eating out in a restaurant. One of the parents ordered a hot chocolate with floating marshmallows. Their seven month old baby reached out and put one in his mouth. The marshmallow expanded in his throat and he choked to death as multiple people frantically tried to save him!
While we don't typically think of food as a choking hazard, it certainly can be for babies. Dry cereals, vegetable sticks, leftover pizza, and even a piece of plain toast can kill a baby if she tries to gnaw it when teething!
Many of us do it. We jingle our necklace or bracelet to capture the attention of a smiling baby. Unfortunately, however, babies can die not just from swallowing jewelry but just from gnawing on it in their mouths and swallowing the lead and other toxins that leach out as they do so!
According to Nightline, approximately 4000 babies and children are rushed to the emergency room EVERY YEAR after swallowing the toxins found in jewelry! Besides lead, jewelry may contain other highly toxic heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury! Swallowing any heavy metal, even a small amount, is so toxic it can create an instant life or death situation for a baby since they are so small. Jewelry, especially costume jewelry, also often contains other extreme toxins too. These include arsenic, chromium, aluminum, and nickel.
I've basically come to the conclusion that in most cases, jewelry and babies don't mix well!
In conclusion, please keep in mind that babies are extremely susceptible to dying from swallowing objects because they'll put almost anything in their mouth, especially after they start teething. As a parent, you can help by providing your baby with safe alternatives like food grade silicone teething necklaces which are very effective and safe.