8 Common Household Items That Are Surprisingly Non-Toxic If Eaten By Kids
If you're the parent of a toddler, you may have the phone number: 1-800-222-1222 tattooed on your forearm. 'Tis the number for Poison Control, which can really come in handy when you're looking after a small human who tends to explore the world around them by eating it. Of course, it's also helpful to know what things a kid a can swallow that are not cause to freak out. You might be surprised by this list of 8 common household items that are actually non-toxic, released by Poison Control (the National Capital Poison Center). I mean, they aren't super great for anyone to eat (toddler or adult) but they also aren't poisonous.
Again, none of the items below are meant to be consumed. Just want to make that super clear. And if your kid does appear unwell after eating a non-food (whatever it is), you should always call Poison Control. (Or, because this is 2020: Scan the Poison Control App, which allows you to put in what the child consumed, then get immediate results on what to do next.) But it's still good to know that you don't necessarily have to start panicking if your toddler accidentally (or even on purpose) consumes one of the following substances.
1. Silica gel
I know, right? I mean those little white packets that come with all of our new shoes and toys literally say DO NOT EAT, and even feature an illustration demonstrating that you Should Not Eat it. And yet, it's actually non-toxic. This doesn't mean you should sprinkle it over your kids' ice cream. But it does mean that if you kid eats it, they will likely just pass it. The risk with silica is that kids might choke - hence all of the imploring to please not stuff it in your face.
2. Kid-approved art supplies
Ever been working on an art project with your kid, then realized your kid's mouth was bright blue? Ah yes. Kids love to eat their crayons and markers and chalk. And I can't say that I blame them. The pretty colors kind of do make you want to scarf them. The good news: they totally won't hurt kids. Though you do need to make sure you purchase items with the AP label. As explained by Poison Control: "Products with the AP (Approved Product) seal contain no materials in sufficient quantities to be toxic or injurious to humans, including children, or to cause acute or chronic health problems."
3. Diaper cream
Yes, another weird one, as it totally seems like this would be quite bad. But Poison Control says eating a small amount of lanolin or zinc oxide-based creams won't hurt a child. And while large amounts can result in nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, even that is pretty unusual.
While we're talking baby products - you know what can actually be very dangerous? Talcum powder. If inhaled, it can cause serious lung damage, and even be fatal.
4. Dog and cat food
As a kid, I totally remember sneaking dog biscuits with my younger brother. Which I blame on way too much Scooby Doo. But apparently, there was no harm in our secret Milk Bone habit. Just like our own food, dog and cat food is monitored by the FDA, making sure it's safe for animal consumption. That said, there is a slightly higher risk of contamination with pet food, sometimes with salmonella, which is why it's best to keep it out of a toddler's reach.
It's also good to wash one's hands after handling it. In short, people eat people food, pets eat pet food. And if your kid really has a hankering for a dog biscuit, these graham cracker Scooby Snacks are quite tasty.
5. Potting soil
Have a little one decide to help you out with some light gardening by eating a scoop of your potting soil? Well, never fear. While it's gross, it's also not a big deal. Poison Control says "nearly all soil ingestions produce no illness." There is a very tiny possibility that a lunch infection could occur after consuming potting soil, but Poison Control says the risk is "extremely small".
If do you catch your kid gobbling a bit of the garden, you can just explain that it's yucky, then help them rinse their mouth out with water.
6. Birth control pills
Definitely one of the most surprising things on the list, no? I mean, surely eating a bunch of hormones can't be good for a small child? Especially a little boy? But it's for real not a big deal. Poison Control says birth control pills are absorbed quickly, and then quickly leave the body. Children might have a diarrhea or be irritable, but there are no longterm effects.
In fact, the only real risk would be if a child swallowed a bunch of the placebo pills, which sometimes contain iron. In that case, you should reach out to Poison Control. Depending on the child's weight and how many were consumed, treatment might be needed.
Again, it totally seems like this would be soooo bad for you to eat. I mean, it's made from benzene! But nope, Styrofoam is also non-toxic if consumed. The main concern with Styrofoam is choking, as its sticky texture can get caught in the windpipe.
If you catch your kid chomping on some packing peanuts, just give them a drink of water, then just keep a close eye on them to make sure they aren't having any difficulty swallowing or breathing.
Little kids digging into their parents' antacids is apparently a pretty common problem. And it's easy to see why: The tablets and gummies are brightly-colored and come in sweet, candy-like flavors. Generally, a kid eating a bunch of your Tums is nothing to panic over, and will only result in an upset stomach and maybe some constipation. However, if your child has any known kidney issues, you should definitely reach out to Poison Control or a doctor.
Either way, parents should remember to treat their antacids like medication, and be sure keep them well out of reach of curious little hands.