Newborn Swallowed Bath Water: What You Need to Know

Newborns might swallow bath water which they usually spit or burp out without any cause for concern. There is a rare possibility of minor issues like vomiting or an upset stomach. Some serious but extremely rare complications can arise, including Dry or Secondary drowning, Pulmonary Edema, and Water Intoxication. But there’re preventive measures you can take to avoid such situations.

Bath time with your newborn is a wonderful bonding opportunity, but accidents can occasionally happen, such as when your little one ends up swallowing bath water.

Although it’s a common occurrence for parents, it might seem like a time of crisis. But there are signs parents can look for to help them know their little one is perfectly fine.

In this post, we’ll explore the potential risks associated with babies swallowing bath water and discuss effective preventive measures.

So, get ready for valuable insights that will help you ensure a safe and enjoyable bath time for your precious bundle of joy!

What happens when a newborn swallows bath water?

Swallowing a small amount of bath water is, in fact, a common occurrence. There is nothing to worry about.

Babies cough, burp, or swallow the water, and it passes through their system without causing any reaction.

Still, if your baby ingests a large amount of water, it’s important to watch out for certain signs.

Excessive intake of bath water

High water intake may lead to vomiting as the body tries to get rid of the excess water. It can also cause an upset stomach, potentially resulting in diarrhea or constipation.

Another potential cause of worry is water intoxication which is rare but could happen with your little one if they accidentally consume a lot of water.

This happens when they don’t spit up the water consumed. The water can dilute the electrolytes found in the baby’s bloodstream, so it’s important to seek immediate attention.

Swallowing bath water mixed with soap

If the bath water contains soap, shampoo, or other products, it can irritate the baby’s stomach lining, causing further discomfort.

Baby is standing in the tub covered in soapy water as mother gives him a bath.

Soap and shampoo can contain harmful ingredients, which can cause various health issues when consumed.

Over time if your baby consumes this sort of water for a long time, it could lead to several issues.

In such cases, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible and remain attentive to any other unusual symptoms.

Potential risks of swallowing bath water

While swallowing a small amount of bath water is generally harmless, it’s worth being aware of potential risks associated with ingesting larger quantities.

Dry drowning and Secondary drowning

Dry drowning and secondary drowning are extremely rare situations that can occur when a child inhales water into their lungs.

Drowning typically happens when a person experiences difficulty breathing due to water entering their airways.

Dry drowning occurs when the inhaled water doesn’t reach the lungs but instead enters the airways, triggering muscle spasms and breathing difficulties.

On the other hand, secondary drowning involves water entering the lungs and irritating their lining, leading to breathing problems.

Symptoms to watch out for in these cases include:

Pulmonary Edema

Another potential concern is pulmonary edema, which refers to fluid buildup in the lungs.

Although swallowing bath water usually doesn’t lead to pulmonary edema, it’s important to recognize the signs, such as:

  • Coughing up pink or frothy mucus
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Respiratory difficulties

Water intoxication

It’s a fact that babies under six months of age should not be given water to drink, as their fluid intake should be fulfilled through breast milk or formula.

A young mother sitting down is breastfeeding her newborn in arms.

If a baby consumes excessive water, it can result in a condition called water intoxication, which can affect brain activity due to the dilution and release of sodium from their bodies.

Although signs and symptoms of water intoxication may not be immediately apparent, some things to watch out for include:

  • low body temperature
  • puffiness or swelling in the face
  • irritability
  • drowsiness
  • In severe cases, seizures

While these conditions are rare and generally occur when a large amount of water is swallowed, monitoring your baby closely is essential.

If you observe any symptoms related to these conditions, seek immediate medical assistance without delay.

What to do if my newborn swallowed bath water?

If your newborn swallowed excessive bath water, it’s crucial to remain calm and observe them for any discomfort or changes.

In such situations, there are a few additional steps you can keep in mind:

Contacting Poison Control

Bath water often contains residual materials such as shampoo, soap, oil, and dirt, which can be harmful if ingested.

If you notice any signs or symptoms of an upset stomach or vomiting after swallowing bath water, contact America’s Poison Center at 800-222-1222 for assistance.

Seeking medical attention

Look out for symptoms of dry drowning, secondary drowning, pulmonary edema, or water intoxication.

If your baby continues to struggle, cough, choke, or experience difficulty breathing and irritability, it’s important to take them to the emergency room for a check-up.

Clearly communicate the cause of the problem to the doctor, as it will help them provide appropriate care and attention.

How to prevent my newborn from swallowing bath water?

Preventing your precious little one from swallowing bath water is a big deal when it comes to their safety during those adorable bath time moments.

Sure, most of the time, babies manage to spit out the water, but it’s better to be proactive and avoid any potential issues.

So, here are some simple yet effective steps you can follow:

1. Keep a close eye

It’s a golden rule never to leave your baby unattended during bath time.

A woman giving bath to newborn and staying close to him all the time to avoid any accidents.

You must keep them within your sight to ensure nothing goes wrong. And if something unexpected does happen, you’ll be right there to take immediate action.

Oh, and remember, it’s best not to rely on older siblings to keep an eye on the little one during bath time.

If you need to step out of the room momentarily, keep all your children out of the bathroom.

2. Preparation is key

Before the splashing fun begins, gather all the essentials within arm’s reach.

You’ll want to have a fresh set of clothes, the bathtub, some comfy mats, soft towels, baby-friendly soap, gentle shampoo, baby lotion or oil, and of course, a soft washcloth.

Having everything within easy reach means you won’t have to leave your baby’s side, not even for a split second.

3. Time for some support aids

Consider using helpful tools like a bath mat to prevent any slippery situations or a bath seat that keeps your little one upright.

These handy gadgets give you more control over where the water goes and reduces the chances of your baby accidentally swallowing it.

And don’t forget about a cute cap to keep the water from splashing all over their adorable face. That way, you can minimize the risk of ingestion even further.

4. Water level matters

Keep it low and safe. Having the water level too high increases the chances of your little munchkin taking an unplanned sip or accidentally going underwater.

And we all know how much babies love to splash and play, so it’s wise to play it safe and keep the water level on the lower side.

5. Choose your products wisely

Now, let’s talk about soap and shampoo. It’s crucial to opt for non-toxic, baby-friendly versions.

The last thing you want is for your baby to swallow bath water filled with harmful chemicals that can make them sick.

So, always be mindful of the products you use and follow the recommendations of healthcare professionals.

By following these simple yet crucial steps, you can create a safer and more enjoyable bathing experience for both you and your little water enthusiast.

So, let the good times roll while keeping your baby safe and sound!


How long after a non-fatal drowning experience should a child be monitored for symptoms of complication?

Monitoring your child for 24-48 hours after the non-fatal drowning experience is best.

Symptoms may not appear initially, but complications can start even after a few hours of the accident.

You should look for signs like persistent coughing, chest pain, and difficulty in breathing.

If you notice these or other signs of distress, get your child immediate medical care.

How do you treat water in a baby’s lungs?

Treating water in a baby’s lungs depends on the severity of the situation and individual circumstances.

The medical team will focus on clearing the baby’s airway and providing respiratory support.

They might perform suctioning to remove excess water. If the baby cannot breathe properly, they might also use oxygen therapy.

It is important to remember to seek medical help in a situation like this and not try home remedies as they may further the problem.


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Priyaanshie Raathore

Hello, I am Priyaanshie, and I've always had a soft spot for babies. Ever since I was a child, I have had an affinity for spending time and taking care of little munchkins. But, as I grew older, I realized that raising tiny humans is no cakewalk! Parenting is a rollercoaster journey filled with excitement and challenges. And, as a writer for 1happykiddo, I am here to answer all the questions new parents have swirling in their minds to help them navigate this journey with lots of joy and confidence.

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