Do you know the most common dangers in the home for accidental ingestion by toddlers? See below for five of these items and suggestions on how to avoid them.


Laundry-detergent-pods.jpg1. Detergent pods (Washer and Dishwasher)

Even with the addition of the “aversive agent” Bitrex to make the pods taste bitter, and the placement of pods in more difficult to open opaque containers, hundreds of children are harmed by these packets per year. The danger isn’t only from ingesting them--severe eye injury can also occur. According to the Wall Street Journal, the toxicity of the materials in the pods is significantly higher than liquid detergent. While parents are recommended to put these pods out of reach of children, the easiest and safest way to prevent detergent pod poisoning is to rely on liquid detergent until your child is older. 


essential-oils.jpg2. Essential oils

While having pleasant scents, essential oils are incredibly dangerous to children--particularly the wandering hands of toddlers. Many essential oils can cause skin rashes and other unpleasant skin issues. Further, like the delicious-looking detergent pods, essential oils smell tasty, and risk accidental ingestion by toddlers. Once ingested, essential oils can cause pneumonia if there is any choking and some of the oil goes into the lungs.


cat_litter.jpg3. Cat litter

While we’re not suggesting an all-out ban of cat litter from homes as we are with detergent pods and essential oils, if your toddler has free access to the cat box, without your supervision, it can cause a number of health issues. Toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite, can easily transfer from cat feces to a human host. The parasite can cause a number of issues including flu-like symptoms, and at its worst in young children, encephalitis. Hookworms and roundworms can also be transmitted by handling cat fecal matter. They can cause a variety of symptoms including skin irritation, organ damage, and in rare cases, cause blindness. Make sure that your cat’s litter box is out of reach of any wandering hands, and is cleaned frequently to avoid infection.


potpourri-861112-edited.jpg4. Scented sachets

Another tempting and delicious-smelling object for toddlers are scented sachets, which generally contain a combination of herbs, dried flowers, spices, and potpourri (sweet smelling wood shavings). These pose a poisoning risk if ingested. Sachets have the potential to cause diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, rapid and shallow breathing, and stomach pain. Additionally, they can cause skin and eye irritation, particularly in young children.



lithium.jpg5. Lithium, or button batteries

Button batteries are found all over homes. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, they’re found in musical greeting cards, calculators, watches, and remote controls. Additionally, with increased awareness of the environmental positives of recycling batteries, many families will store the batteries elsewhere until there is a good time to recycle them. Having these batteries accessible to toddlers poses great risks including choking or the battery getting stuck in the esophagus and causing a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction can burn and seriously damage the esophagus within two hours. Be sure to place button batteries out of reach of toddlers, and also secure any battery-containing devices that can easily be opened.


Do you know of any other common ingestible dangers for toddlers? Let us know in the comments!

Posted 10/18/16

Topics: Safety, Children, Health & Nutrition

Claudia Auger

Written by Claudia Auger

A volunteer for Child Care of Southwest Florida