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My Baby Burned His Tongue, Now What? Pediatricians Explain

My kid’s favorite food is a big pile of steamed green beans, for which I’m thankful. A couple of weeks ago, I apparently didn’t cool them off enough before putting said beans on his tray. He of course dove right in and grabbed a huge handful and shoved them in his mouth. His eyes got so wide and he spit them all over the tray and started bouncing up and down. I have never felt like more of a jerk in my entire life. My baby burned his tongue, and now what? I felt like the worst mom on the planet and was also slightly concerned he would no longer consider green beans his favorite food since they betrayed him.

I asked Dr. Robert Hamilton, a pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, and author of 7 Secrets of the Newborn, what to do when your baby burns their tongue. He tells Romper in an email interview, "Comfort your child in your arms. Every child will cry out in pain, and a good start in alleviating the trauma of a burned tongue is a loving and empathetic embrace from a parent." Next, Hamilton suggests giving your child a cool drink as soon as possible, and if they're not old enough to choke, allow them to suck on ice chips. Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, says for a baby, "milk and formula can help soothe a burned tongue. Popsicles will work too depending on the age of the baby — I would say 7 or 8 months or older. You can also use the mesh sacks and put some ice in them and let the baby suck on that."

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For slightly older children who burn their tongue, Hamilton says, "Have your child swish the tongue with a diluted salt water solution (1/8 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water), and avoid giving them any more overly warm hot foods or drinks." Worst-case scenario, you can always give your child liquid Tylenol and/or Motrin (Advil) to alleviate pain or even use Chloraseptic spray, which has a numbing, analgesic, on the tissue and will help mollify pain, he adds.

As for when you need to seek medical attention, Posner says, "If the burn looks deep, seek medical attention immediately. The good news is that tongues typically heal very quickly, but if you are ever worried, don’t hesitate to have the baby be seen by a pediatrician."

To avoid this situation, Posner suggests always testing your baby's food manually before giving it to them. "Hard boiled eggs, or anything thick for that matter, can get very hot, so always open it and let it cool down before feeding your baby. Another food that can be deceptively hot is melted cheese."

So make sure you test and retest all the food you give your baby before they shove it in their mouths. And luckily, they'll just need some additional cuddles, something cold, and maybe a popsicle to make them feel better. Always check with your pediatrician if you're really worried, or if they don't seem to find relief from what you're doing at home. P.S. you're not the worst mom ever.