3 under 3

You think you’ve baby / toddler / preschooler-proofed your house until this happens…

Posted on: January 28, 2011

Yesterday morning I indulged in a rare sleep-in. Tom was at work, Molly and Neave were both sleeping late, and Tiernan was playing happily in his bedroom. Or so I thought. I went back to bed and dozed off for about half an hour. I was woken by Tiernan, who came and handed me an empty Panadeine packet and four tablets. Instantly awake.

“Tiernan, did you eat any?”

(Knowing that the only ‘correct’ answer he can give is no) “No, Mummy.”

“Tiernan, you’re not in trouble, I just really need to know if you ate any tablets.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Are you sure? I really need to know, because they could make you very sick.”

“No, I didn’t eat any.”

“Okay. Thank you for bringing them to me.”

“I did lick one.”

“Just lick? You didn’t eat one?”



I searched all the rooms he had been in, and didn’t find any more tablets, or any evidence of spat out tablets (they don’t taste too good), so I was inclined to believe he hadn’t swallowed any. Until he turned very pale. Then started burping. Then he vomited. Shit.

I called the Poisons Information Centre (13 11 26). I estimated that the maximum number of tablets he could possibly have swallowed (if any at all) was three (judging by how many were in the packet). They told me that, given his weight, he wouldn’t be in any danger from the amount of paracetamol, and at worst the amount of codeine in the tablets would make him drowsy. They told me to watch out for signs of allergy to codeine (such as a rash), however, as he’s never had it before. They also said that if he vomited more than a few times to take him to the doctor. Luckily, the vomit was a one-off and afterwards he instantly perked up and ate breakfast. No drowsiness. I think it was the ‘lick’ that made him sick, after all.

Then we had to get to the bottom of where he found them. It turns out he got them from Tom’s bedside table. We normally keep all our medication up above our fridge, in our fenced-off kitchen. However, Tom had been tidying up his side of the room, found the tablets, but then got distracted by something else before getting rid of them. A simple mistake that could have been very nasty. But it wasn’t, thankfully.

Tiernan and I had the “Never eat tablets that haven’t been handed to you by Mummy or Daddy (or someone Mummy or Daddy said it’s okay to take tablets from)” talk. I’m embarrassed to say that this isn’t the first time this has happened, either. A few months ago, we had guests staying with us, and Tiernan went into the room they were staying in and found some Panadol tablets in one of their bags while I was distracted with a sick baby. He came to me with white powder smeared on his face, saying that it tasted yucky. Luckily, again, the amount of paracetamol in the one tablet he chewed (then spat out), wasn’t enough to harm him. I think part of the problem is that he has been desensitised to tablets and medication, as we give him a tablet to chew every night (his asthma medication). And obviously we need to keep all medications out of his reach.

3 Responses to "You think you’ve baby / toddler / preschooler-proofed your house until this happens…"

That’s so scary Anna. I realised recently that we had left some tablets on the bathroom bench, and kept thinking “I need to move them” but left them there for far too long. This post also made me have “the tablet talk” with Scarlett so thank you.

[…] Comment! Recently, I had a discussion with my three-year-old son about eating tablets that don’t belong to him (see here). […]

[…] to draw the irony out of the situation (since we’d been having discussions with Tiernan about tablets just before the incident occurred). However, on further reflection (mostly after thinking about […]

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