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Non-Toxic Ingestion in Children: Care Instructions


Your child swallowed something that is not a poison, or toxin. In most cases this will not cause problems.

Your child's body will pass what your child ate or drank. You can help by offering your child plenty of fluids and foods with fibre.

Liquid charcoal may be given to a child who has swallowed a non-toxic substance. If your child was treated with liquid charcoal, expect your child's stools to be black for a couple of days. The doctor may give you instructions for how to treat other side effects of charcoal, such as nausea and constipation.

Most households contain many items that can be a hazard if swallowed. This is a good time to check your home to make sure that all alcohol, medicine, and household products are kept out of sight.

The doctor has checked your child carefully. But problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow your doctor's instructions about closely watching your child's health and behaviour.
  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids. If your child has to limit fluids because of a health problem, talk with your doctor before you increase how much your child drinks.
  • Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your child's diet each day. These foods are high in fibre.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child seems to be confused or is not thinking clearly.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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