Baby Swallowed Bath Water: What to Do Next

As parents, we know how worrying it can be when our newborn accidentally swallows bath water. While most babies will be absolutely fine after ingesting a bit of bath water, it’s always better to be cautious. In this article, we’ll explore any potential risks that could occur if your baby swallows bath water and what you need to do to avoid them.

We understand that as new parents, it can be overwhelming to navigate the dos and don’ts of taking care of a newborn. That’s why we’ve gathered all the information you need to know about the risks associated with swallowing bath water, so you can feel confident in keeping your little one safe during bath time.

What Can Happen If A Baby Swallowed Bath water?

When a baby accidentally swallows bath water, it is unlikely to cause dry drowning or secondary drowning. Dry drowning causes noticeable distress within the first hour, while secondary drowning can manifest up to a few days later but will be marked with visible, worsening symptoms. If a baby swallows a significant amount of water, they may spit it up or burp. This is normal, especially for babies under 6 months of age who should not drink water as it may cause water intoxication. It is important for parents to supervise their babies during bath time and use a baby bath cap or visor to prevent them from ingesting bath water.


When a baby swallows a small amount of bath water, there is usually nothing to worry about. The baby may cough or spit up a little, but they will recover quickly. If the baby burps after swallowing the water, it is a sign that the water went into their stomach. This may cause some discomfort, but it is not typically painful. Older babies may even intentionally drink a little bath water, which is usually not harmful. In most cases, there is no need to panic if your baby swallows a small amount of bath water.

RELATED: How Often Should We Bathe Our Newborn?

Intoxication by Harmful Substances

If a baby swallows a lot of bathwater, they may ingest harmful substances such as formaldehyde found in some shampoos and soaps. This is especially dangerous for newborns. If you suspect your baby has been exposed to toxic substances, contact the Poison Control Center immediately for assistance. They can help you identify the harmful substances and advise you on the symptoms to look out for. It’s important to act quickly to prevent any further harm to your baby.

Water Intoxication

What is Water Intoxication?

Water intoxication occurs when the body receives too much water, which can lead to low sodium levels in the blood. This condition can be fatal, especially in infants under six months old. Symptoms of water intoxication include irritability, drowsiness, and other drastic mental changes. If you are worried about your child, seek medical attention immediately. It’s important to note that a small amount of shampoo in bath water is usually not a significant risk factor for water intoxication.

How To Prevent Baby Swallowing Bath water

Here are some tips we can follow to prevent our baby from swallowing bath water:

  • Keep the water level low to avoid splashing.
  • Use a bath seat or non-slip mat to prevent slipping.
  • Always keep a hand on the baby and never leave them unattended.
  • Use a bath thermometer to ensure the water temperature is safe.
  • Avoid using bath toys that can trap water and cause the baby to swallow it.
  • If the baby has a tendency to drink bath water, try distracting them with bath toys or songs.
  • Keep a close eye on the baby for any signs of distress or discomfort.

By following these precautions, we can ensure that our baby stays safe and healthy during bath time.

Use a Suction Seat

When bathing a baby, it’s essential to keep them safe from accidentally swallowing water. One way to do this is by using a baby bath seat with suction cups. These seats elevate the baby above the water level, reducing the chance of them getting water in their mouth. It’s recommended to use suction seats that have a non-slip mat to prevent the baby from slipping. When using a suction seat, make sure to only fill the tub with no more than 2 inches of water. This will ensure that the baby is safe and comfortable during bath time.

Keep All the Bath Accessories in the Bathroom

We all know how curious babies can be. They tend to explore their surroundings, and that includes the bathtub. To avoid the risk of your baby getting into trouble while you’re out of the room, it’s best to keep all the bath accessories in the bathroom. This includes the bathtub, bath mat, bath toys, and baby bath supplies. You can use a basket, lazy Susan turntable storage, or add an extra shelf for baby stuff. This way, you can keep your eyes on your baby at all times and reduce the risk of them accidentally swallowing bath water contaminated with dead skin or other substances.

Use a Bath Hat

We recommend using a bathing cap during bath time to prevent water from getting into your baby’s eyes and face. The cap helps to ensure that when you wash your baby’s hair, the water rolls backward instead of onto their face. This can help make bath time more comfortable and enjoyable for your baby.

Use Nontoxic Shampoos and Soaps

When it comes to baby’s bath time, it’s important to use only chemical-free products to avoid any accidental ingestion of poisonous chemicals. This includes using non-toxic shampoos and soaps. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Look for baby shampoos and soaps that are labeled “non-toxic” or “chemical-free”
  • Avoid products with harsh chemicals such as formaldehyde, parabens, and sulfates
  • Read the labels carefully and research the ingredients before purchasing
  • Consider using organic or natural products for extra peace of mind

Remember, even small amounts of toxic chemicals can be harmful to a baby’s delicate system. So, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and choose nontoxic shampoos and soaps for your little one’s bath time.

Should You Be Worried About Dry Drowning?

What Is Dry Drowning?

Dry drowning is a type of delayed drowning that can occur when a person inhales water through the mouth or nose. It is often confused with secondary drowning, but the two are slightly different. With dry drowning, the water causes the airways to constrict, making it hard for the person to breathe. On the other hand, secondary drowning occurs when water gets into the lungs and causes them to swell, which can lead to fatal infections.

It’s important to note that a tiny amount of bathwater swallowed through the mouth will hardly pose a risk of dry drowning for your child. However, if your child inhales a significant amount of water, they may experience respiratory distress, which could lead to dry drowning. Therefore, it’s important to monitor your child after they have been in water to ensure they are breathing normally and not showing any unusual symptoms.

Inhaling water can be dangerous, but with proper precautions and monitoring, you can help prevent dry drowning and keep your child safe.

How Do I Know If My Child Is Dry Drowning?

We need to watch out for symptoms like chest pain, trouble breathing, feeling extremely tired, lethargy or extreme fatigue, difficulty breathing, irritability or mood swings, and changes in behavior such as irritability or a drop in energy levels. These symptoms can occur soon after exiting the water or take between one and 72 hours to appear. If your child is having difficulty breathing, they may be unable to speak or express their symptoms. It is important to seek medical help immediately if you suspect dry drowning.

Difficulty Breathing

If your baby has swallowed bath water and is experiencing delayed drowning, it could lead to difficulty breathing. This is a significant symptom that requires immediate medical attention. If you notice that your child is breathing shallowly or having trouble breathing after a few hours, it could mean that their airways are constricted or that water has entered their lungs. In either case, it is important to contact your healthcare provider right away. Remember, delayed drowning can be life-threatening, and prompt medical attention is crucial to ensure your baby’s safety.


If your baby starts vomiting after swallowing bathwater, it could be a sign of an upset stomach. However, vomiting alone does not necessarily indicate the risk of dry drowning. In some cases, it could be a sign of harmful chemical ingestion, which requires immediate medical attention. If your baby is vomiting excessively, it is important to contact your healthcare provider to get an accurate diagnosis. Remember to keep an eye out for any other symptoms, such as an upset stomach, and seek medical attention if necessary.

Excessive Coughing

When a child coughs excessively after swallowing bathwater, it may indicate that there is water in their lungs. Coughing is the body’s natural response to expel harmful substances from the respiratory system. The coughing may last for several hours after the incident. If your child experiences excessive coughing, it is essential to seek medical attention to ensure their respiratory system is functioning correctly.

Pain in the Chest

If your baby is crying uncontrollably, it could be a sign of chest pains, which may indicate water in the lungs. If your baby is old enough to communicate, ask them if their chest is sore.


If our baby is feeling unusually tired or drowsy, it may be a sign that they’re not getting enough oxygen. Water in the lungs can affect how they take oxygen, which can deprive the body of energy. In severe cases, this can lead to seizures.

Blue Skin

If your baby’s skin appears blue or purple, it may indicate that they are not getting enough oxygen. This can be a sign of respiratory distress and requires immediate medical attention.

What To Do If You Are Worried About Dry Drowning

If your child has any unusual symptoms after swallowing bath water, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. Take your child to the pediatrician, emergency department, or call 911 for treatment. Remember, any one of these symptoms in isolation is not necessarily a sign of dry drowning, so there’s usually no reason to panic. In case of any doubt, it’s always better to consult a doctor or poison control center. Dry and secondary drowning are both very rare, with less than 2% risk factor according to WebMD.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if your baby accidentally swallows bathwater, there is usually no need to worry. It is not the same as drowning, and most of the time, nothing bad happens. However, if you’re concerned that your baby drank water with soap or shampoo, it’s best to contact the Poison Control Centre. Remember to always supervise your baby during bath time and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety. Check out our recent posts for more helpful tips and information on caring for your little one.

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