Non-Toxic Ingestion in Children: Care Instructions

Skip to the navigation

Your 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 he or she 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 his or her 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 call line 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.
  • If liquid charcoal causes constipation, talk to your doctor about how to treat it.

When should you call for help?

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

  • Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your child's body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
  • Your child has a seizure.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new belly pain.
  • Your child has new or worse nausea or vomiting.
  • Your child has a fever.

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

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter M848 in the search box to learn more about "Non-Toxic Ingestion in Children: Care Instructions."