What You Need To Know If Your Kid Eats Paint

by Mishal Ali Zafar

Painting is one of those timeless activities that can be fun and relaxing for adults and kids alike. Swooshing colors along a canvas or paper with their tiny fingers is an exciting and creative outlet for kids, and gives parents a way to keep their little ones entertained. Sometimes, however, those pesky fingers or paintbrushes can end up in your kid's mouth, driving parents into panic mode and wondering, "what happens if my kids eat paint?"

The first thing to determine is what type of paint your child ingested. According to the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC), water-based paints can cause vomiting if swallowed in large amounts, and oil-based paints can contain highly poisonous solvents. National Institutes of Health noted that even when paints are labeled "non-toxic," many of them still contain chemicals like cadmium or cobalt, which can be harmful when swallowed.

Lead paints, often found on the walls of older homes, can chip and be picked up by children and ingested. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe blood lead level in children and even the lowest levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect brain development.

The NCPC suggested that safety precautions and measures can be taken to prevent paint poisoning in children, including reading labels carefully and avoiding eating or drinking while using paint products. Learning 4 Kids has some great ideas on how to make edible finger paints for little ones who are more prone to put their fingers and hands in their mouths, too.

If you find that your child has eaten some kind of paint, the American Association of Poison Control Centers advised that you have the paint label handy and call them at 1-800-222-1222, a national toll-free number that will connect you to the poison control center in your state. You would also need to provide them with basic information about your child such as age and weight.

While you may wish that your child would eat things other than candy and cookies, paint definitely doesn't fit into a healthy food group. But with proper precautions and supervision, crafting and painting with your kids can still be tons of fun.