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When Your Kid Eats Something Gross

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Paper, stickers, play dough, dirt, sand, cat litter, pet poop? What to do if your tot chows down on one of these:

Try not to think about it, say the poison-control experts. While disgusting, most of this stuff doesn't pose a health risk unless consumed in large quantities. (They could be choking hazards, however.) If something gross has been ingested, you shouldn't administer syrup of ipecac (which is no longer recommended) or attempt to make your child vomit in any way. "We once received a call about a child who broke a cremation urn and ate some of the ashes inside," says Allison Muller, Pharm.D., clinical managing director of the Poison Control Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "We told the parents to just give her a cup of water." When should you worry? Call your pediatrician if your child eats or even just plays with dry pet food because it has been linked to salmonella outbreaks. And if your child ingests any medication, alcohol, cleaning products, toiletries such as deodorant, pesticide, fuel or anything else suspicious, call the Poison Control Center immediately at 800-222-1222 (they're available 24/7). Also notify Poison Control or your pediatrician if she swallows a hard, nonfood item, such as a coin, paper clip, magnet or button battery; she may need to get an x-ray.

How gross is it? Your most common germy situations (poop in the tub! Dropped paci!) analyzed

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