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Everyday household items commonly cause accidental poisoning in children under the age of six. Items such as toothpaste and lotions can look appealing to children but are toxic when ingested. These substances are called pretty poisons.
What are pretty poisons?
According to childbirth educator Cindy Vance, RN, BSN, pretty poisons are simply common household items that attract children by reminding them of their own snacks and drinks.
These can include:
- Laundry detergent pods
- Dish washer pods
- Lotions and creams
- Glass cleaner
Toothpaste and multi vitamins are also considered pretty poisons, because excessive amounts ingested can be toxic to children.
“Fluoride in high doses is toxic, so toothpaste is something that should be put away, actually. Look how attractive they are—it can be very appealing, and we don’t think about toothpaste as poisonous,” Cindy says. “Even multi vitamins—they’re cute shapes, they’re gummies, and they’re flavored. Some of them even have sugar sprinkled on them. They taste good, so your child wants more. If the vitamins aren’t put away, a lot of kids will want to take more than the recommended dose.”
These items should be put away and out of the reach of children for their own safety.
“Little kids are attracted to anything colorful and interesting. A child is extremely curious, and they will definitely get their hands on it,” Cindy says.
She recommends parents keep the items up high, even if it is an inconvenience. When possible, items should be locked up out of view, so the child cannot see them.
How to treat accidental poisoning
If you suspect your child has ingested a poisonous substance, call poison control right away. Cindy recommends having the poison control number posted in an accessible place.
You can also try to get your child to spit the object out and check their hands and mouth for any remnants. Keep whatever they ingested to take with you to the emergency room.
If your child is having an extreme reaction, such as seizures, call 911.