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What to Do When a Baby Accidentally Swallows Bath Water

What to Do When a Baby Accidentally Swallows Bath Water

Parents often experience anxiety when bathing their babies, especially if they worry that the baby might inadvertently swallow the bath water. This can be a difficult scenario, particularly for parents who are aware of the risks associated with water, like infection and water intoxication.

Bathing your baby is a routine and essential part of childcare, but sometimes unforeseen incidents can occur. One such incident is when a baby accidentally swallows bath water. While it may cause concern for parents, understanding the potential risks and knowing how to respond is crucial. 

What to Do When a Baby Accidentally Swallows Bath Water

Fortunately, swallowing bath water is a frequent and relatively harmless incident that happens when a baby bathes, so there is no need to be too concerned about it. The baby may react by coughing, splattering, or burping, but most bathwater ingestion incidents don’t usually cause a significant reaction in the infant.

Although newborns will always ingest bath water, there are indicators parents can look out for to make sure their babies are safe following such events. While many might believe. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind a baby swallowing bath water, the potential consequences, and what parents can do to ensure their child’s safety.

Reasons For Swallowing Bath Water

Exploration and Curiosity:

Babies are naturally curious, and their exploration extends to the water during bath time. They may attempt to drink or taste the water out of curiosity.

Inadvertent Submersion:

Infants can sometimes submerge their faces in the water unintentionally while playing or splashing. This can lead to accidental ingestion of bath water.


Teething babies often put objects in their mouths for comfort. If they are teething during bath time, they may inadvertently swallow water while mouthing bath toys or their own hands.

Read Also: When Should You Bath Your Baby After Feeding? (With 4 Practical Tips)

Is It OK if My Baby Swallowed Bath Water?

In most cases, there’s no need for immediate worry if your baby swallows a small amount of bath water. Babies are naturally curious, and it’s not uncommon for them to taste or ingest small amounts during bath time. However, if your baby appears uncomfortable, or experiences persistent symptoms like vomiting, difficulty breathing, or extreme fussiness, it’s advisable to contact a healthcare professional for guidance. Monitoring your baby closely and seeking medical advice if needed will help ensure their well-being.

Is It OK if My Baby Swallowed Bath Water?

If the Baby Swallowed a Lot of Bath Water

If your baby has swallowed a significant amount of bath water, it’s important to monitor them closely for any signs of distress. While small amounts of swallowed water are generally not a cause for concern, larger quantities could lead to discomfort or, in rare cases, water intoxication. Watch for symptoms such as persistent vomiting, difficulty breathing, or unusual fussiness.

If the Baby Swallowed a Lot of Bath Water

If you notice any severe or prolonged symptoms, it’s crucial to seek prompt medical attention. Contact your pediatrician or go to the nearest emergency room. Healthcare professionals can assess the situation and provide appropriate guidance based on your baby’s specific condition. Remember, staying vigilant and seeking professional advice when in doubt ensures the best care for your baby’s well-being.

If the Baby Swallowed Bath Water Mixed with Soap

If your baby has swallowed bath water mixed with soap, it’s essential to assess the situation and take appropriate action:

Stay Calm:

It’s natural for parents to feel anxious, but remaining calm is crucial. Most incidents of swallowing bath water do not result in serious harm.

Observe for Immediate Distress:

Watch for any signs of immediate distress, such as choking, difficulty breathing, or unusual behavior.

Offer Sips of Plain Water:

If your baby swallows a small amount and appears fine, you can offer sips of plain water to help dilute the soap.

Monitor for Symptoms:

Keep a close eye on your baby for any signs of discomfort, persistent vomiting, or changes in behavior. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention promptly.

Contact a Healthcare Professional:

If you have concerns or if your baby is showing signs of distress, contact your pediatrician or seek medical advice. Healthcare professionals can provide guidance based on the specific situation.

Preventive Measures:

To avoid such incidents in the future, ensure that soap and other bath products are kept out of your baby’s reach. Use baby-friendly and mild soaps to minimize any potential harm.

How Much Bath Water Did Baby Swallow?

Determining the exact amount of bath water a baby swallows can be challenging, as it’s not easy to measure during routine activities. If you’re concerned about the quantity your baby may have ingested, focus on observing their behavior and any signs of distress. 

If your baby appears to be in discomfort, exhibits unusual behavior, or experiences symptoms such as persistent coughing, vomiting, or difficulty breathing, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a healthcare professional. They can assess the situation based on observed symptoms and provide appropriate advice or treatment if necessary.

Dry Drowning

Dry drowning is an uncommon occurrence that results from water entering the lungs, typically following a near-drowning incident. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t occur when a baby ingests bath water. The risk of dry drowning arises if a baby inhales water through the nose or mouth during bath time. It’s important to note that if your baby swallows bath water and subsequently burps, the water is likely to reach their stomach rather than their lungs, alleviating concerns about dry drowning. “Dry drowning” is a term that has been used colloquially to describe two different scenarios related to water exposure:

But be warned—dangerous signs of dry drowning can start almost immediately and get worse over time. These indicators include:

  • Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
  • Whipping
  • Bluish skin
  • Unconsciousness
  • Tiredness
  • Stomach choking or gagging 
  • Breathing is difficult and chest tightening

Secondary Drowning:

This occurs when a person, often a child, inhales water into the lungs while swimming. Even if there are no immediate signs of distress, symptoms may appear hours later. These can include difficulty breathing, coughing, and lethargy. While rare, it’s essential to seek medical attention if these symptoms arise.

The symptoms of secondary drowning are quite similar to those of dry drowning.

  • Cough that won’t go away
  • Lethargy
  • Choking
  • Vomiting
  • Having trouble breathing
If the Baby Swallowed a Lot of Bath Water

Delayed or Secondary Immersion Injury:

In this scenario, a person may experience respiratory problems or drowning-related symptoms after leaving the water. This can happen due to the inhalation of water or other substances during swimming. Like secondary drowning, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial.

It’s important to note that the terms “dry drowning” and “secondary drowning” are not widely accepted in the medical community. Instead, healthcare professionals may use the more specific terms mentioned above to describe these conditions.

If you suspect that someone, especially a child, has experienced water-related distress or inhalation, monitoring for symptoms and seeking medical attention promptly is essential for their well-being. Always be vigilant during water activities and ensure a safe environment for swimming.

How To Prevent Babies From Swallowing Water

Preventing babies from swallowing water during bath time involves a combination of supervision, safe practices, and awareness. Here are some tips to help minimize the risk:

Preparation is Key:

Ensure all bath time essentials, including soap, towels, and toys, are prepared and within reach before starting the bath to minimize distractions.


Always supervise your baby closely during bath time. Never leave them unattended in the water, even for a brief moment.

Safe Water Level:

Maintain a safe water level in the tub to reduce the likelihood of accidental ingestion. Keep the water level below chest height for your baby.

Use Mild Soaps:

Choose baby-friendly, mild soaps to minimize any potential harm if your baby happens to ingest small amounts.

Avoid Splashing Faces:

Be mindful of your baby’s face during bath time. Avoid splashing water on their face to prevent accidental inhalation.

Safe Bath Toys:

Select bath toys that are free of small parts and made from non-toxic materials. This helps minimize the risk of choking and ingestion.

Utilize a Baby Seat:

Invest in a secure baby bath seat to provide added support and stability, reducing the risk of slips and falls during the bath.

Use Bath Mats:

Place non-slip bath mats in the tub to prevent both you and your baby from slipping. This adds an extra layer of safety during bath time.

Consider Bathing Caps and Visors:

Opt for bathing caps or visors to shield your baby’s face from splashes, reducing the chance of accidental water ingestion and ensuring a more comfortable experience.

Teething Awareness:

If your baby is teething, be cautious about the objects they put in their mouth during bath time. Provide safe teething toys to redirect their chewing behavior.

Proper Water Temperature:

Ensure the water temperature is comfortable for your baby to prevent sudden movements or reactions that could lead to water ingestion.

Educate Caregivers:

If others are involved in bath time care, make sure they are aware of these safety measures and are equally vigilant.


While the accidental swallowing of bath water by a baby can be concerning, it is generally not a cause for panic. By staying vigilant, maintaining a safe bathing environment, and knowing how to respond if an incident occurs, parents can help ensure the well-being of their little ones during bath time. If in doubt or if symptoms persist, consulting with a healthcare professional is always a prudent course of action.


Is it common for babies to accidentally swallow bath water?

Yes, it’s relatively common for babies to explore and occasionally ingest small amounts of bath water out of curiosity.

Should I be worried if my baby swallows a small amount of bath water?

In most cases, swallowing a small amount of bath water is not a cause for immediate concern. Monitor your baby for any signs of distress, but it often poses minimal risk.

How can I prevent my baby from swallowing bath water?

Continuous supervision, using safe bath toys, maintaining a comfortable water temperature, and creating a safe bathing environment are key preventive measures.

What should I do if my baby swallows a significant amount of bath water?

Monitor for symptoms like vomiting or difficulty breathing. If concerns persist, seek advice from a healthcare professional promptly.

Can teething contribute to babies swallowing more water during bath time?

Yes, teething babies may put objects in their mouths, increasing the likelihood of accidentally swallowing water. Provide safe teething toys as an alternative.

Are there any long-term effects if a baby swallows bath water?

In most cases, there are no long-term effects. However, if you notice persistent symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

What happens if a baby accidentally swallows bath water?

Swallowing a small amount of bath water is generally not harmful and is a common occurrence during bath time exploration. Most babies may not experience any adverse effects. However, if your baby ingests a significant amount or shows signs of distress, such as persistent coughing, vomiting, or difficulty breathing, it’s essential to seek advice from a healthcare professional.

How do I know if my baby aspirated bath water?

Aspiration of bath water occurs when water enters the airways. Signs of aspiration can include coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and persistent discomfort. If you observe these symptoms or have concerns about your baby’s well-being, consult with a healthcare professional for a proper evaluation.

What to do if water enters the baby’s nose while bathing?

If water enters your baby’s nose during bathing, remain calm and take the following steps:

Gently Turn Baby’s Head:

Turn your baby’s head to the side to allow water to drain naturally.

Comfort and Soothe:

Comfort your baby if they appear startled or upset. 

Continue Bathing:

If your baby seems fine and there are no signs of distress, you can continue with the bath, being cautious to prevent further water entry into the nose.

Monitor for Symptoms:

Keep a close eye on your baby for any signs of respiratory distress, coughing, or unusual behavior. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention promptly.

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