Kids consume some very unexpected things from time to time. And at the top of that “what the heck were you thinking when you ate that?!” list is definitely crayons. Maybe it’s their colorful composition (or maybe your kid just wants to taste the rainbow), but eating crayons is pretty common. Naturally, if your toddler ate a crayon, you might be worried about what happens next. Thankfully, this too shall pass — literally.
If you catch your kid eating a crayon, you shouldn’t stress too much about it. “Kids eat strange things all the time and crayons are no exception,” pediatrician Jarret Patton M.D. tells Romper. “In this case, as long as they swallow it without difficulty, you don't need to rush to poison control or have them eat or drink something to wash it down.”
Of course, you don’t want your child to make a meal out of a maize-colored crayon. But the good news is that while they’re not necessarily nutritious, crayons won’t do too much damage to your child’s digestive system, either. “Crayons made in the USA are non-toxic,” says Patton. “That doesn't make them taste good, but it keeps them from having harmful chemicals in case of accidental (or intentional) ingestion. And the gastrointestinal system is highly capable of moving the pieces of crayon and paper through.”
It's important to note that ingesting a crayon isn't completely safe. Choking is a real hazard that comes with eating a non-food like crayons. “We worry more about things that get stuck and don’t make it past the upper part of the esophagus," pediatrician Jay Lovenheim, M.D., tells Romper. “But if your child might need medical care if he’s experiencing choking, excessive drooling, uncontrolled vomiting, and/or severe abdominal pain.”
Once the crayon has been safely swallowed, there’s really no reason to pick apart your child’s poo looking for evidence of the crayon. “Unless you’re curious, there is no need to look for evidence as the crayon will come out undigested,” says Patton. Crayons will typically make their way through your child’s body in a couple of days, so your child can poop in peace without you having to peek at the, um, end product.
So if your kid decides to down a crayon or two, just let nature run its course. And in a day or two, his crap will be just as colorful as his personality.
Dr. Jarret Patton, M.D., FAAP, a board certified pediatrician and author of Whose Bad @$$ Kids Are Those? A Parent's Guide to Behavior for Children of All Ages
Dr. Jay Lovenheim, a pediatrician and former clinical chief of Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey