Baby Swallowed Bath water: What Should I Do? 

newborn taking a bath

It’s natural for you to worry if your baby swallowed bath water. However, it’s usually nothing to worry about; most babies will be absolutely fine after ingesting a bit of bath water.

But it’s always better to be cautious. So to help you out, we’fre going to look at any potential risks that would occur if baby swallows bath water and what you need to do to avoid them.

what to do if baby swallows bath water

What Can Happen If A Baby Swallowed Bath water?

Here’s what could happen if your baby swallows bath water accidentally. 


In most cases, nothing will happen. Your baby might cough and splatter a little, but they’ll be fine soon after.

If the baby swallowed bath water and then burped, it’s a sure sign that the water went into the stomach. 

Apart from the discomfort of the forced gulp, it will usually not be a painful experience, especially if your baby swallowed only a tiny amount of water. 

Older babies might even intentionally take a few gulps of bath water. There’s usually no real reason to panic.

RELATED: How Often Should You Bathe A Newborn?

Intoxication by harmful substances

If your baby swallows lots of water bathwater, there’s a risk that they may swallow some harmful substances.

Some soaps and shampoos are made with toxic substances that can harm your baby, especially tiny babies.

For example, some shampoos contain a substance called formaldehyde, which may be harmful to your baby. 

If you are worried about intoxication, reach out to the Poison Control Center over the phone or online.

They’ll help you identify any harmful substances and let you know which symptoms you should look out for.

Water intoxication

Babies below six months can develop some complications from water intoxication. 

What is water intoxication?

Water intoxication is when the body gets too much water reducing the sodium levels in the blood.

It can be fatal, especially in younger children less than six months old.

Take your child to the ER if you’re worried.  

That said, you should know that it usually takes a large amount of poisonous chemicals to affect the body. So a bit of shampoo in bath water is typically not a significant risk factor.

How To Prevent Baby Swallowing Bath water

As with anything else, prevention is always the best cure; try these tips to ensure that you keep the baby from swallowing bath water. 

Use a suction seat

Sitting the baby on the suction seats while they’re bathing helps to reduce the risk of them accidentally swallowing water while you’re tilting their head.

It’s typically recommended not to put more than 2 inches of water in the tub when you’re bathing your little one.

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The suction seats make it all the more safer to bathe your baby.

That’s because the seat puts the baby well above the water level, reducing any chance of getting water in the baby’s mouth. 


Keep all the bath accessories in the bathroom

It’s best to keep all you need in the bathroom so you won’t have to step out when you’re bathing your little one.

Babies tend to be very adventurous and might end up swallowing bath water accidentally or intentionally when you dash out to get something.

Get a basket, lazy Susan turntable storage or add an extra shelf for baby stuff; that way, you lower the risk of taking your eyes off your baby even for a second. 


Use a bath hat

A bath hat shields your baby’s face during bath time—that way, when you wash their hair, the water rolls backward rather than onto their face. 


Use nontoxic shampoos and soaps

To avoid baby swallowing poisonous chemicals by accident, use only chemical-free products for baby’s bath time. 

Should You Be Worried About Dry Drowning? 

A tiny amount of bathwater swallowed through the mouth will hardly pose a risk of dry drowning for your child. 

Let’s talk a bit about dry drowning to allay your fears.

What is dry drowning?

Dry drowning is a type of delayed drowning that happens when one inhales water through the mouth or nose.

When this happens, the person typically appears fine but may get extremely unwell after a short while.

Dry drowning is often used synonymously 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. 

While secondary drowning is when water gets into the lungs and causes them to swell, the water might also trigger infections that are usually fatal. 

How Do I Know If My Child Is Dry Drowning? 

Baby swallowing bath water won’t typically cause dry drowning.

Unless your baby’s face is completely covered in water. In that case, you will need to watch out for symptoms like: 

Difficulty breathing

If your baby has delayed drowning, one of the significant symptoms is a change in their breathing pattern.

If your child starts to show signs of shallow or difficult breathing after a few hours, it could be a sign that the airways are constricted.

It could also be a sign that water got into their lungs.

Either way, if you notice any unusual breathing patterns after your child has swallowed some bath water, contact your healthcare provider. 

newborn taking a bath


When water gets into the lungs, your baby may start to vomit a lot. This can be a sign that the lungs are swelling up.

However, vomiting alone does not mean your child is at any risk of dry drowning. 

Throwing up may only be a sign of an upset tummy, not related to swallowing bathwater. 

In the worst-case scenario, it may signal that your baby ingested some harmful chemicals. Contact your health care provider to get an accurate diagnosis. 

Excessive coughing

Coughing is the body’s way of trying to remove harmful substances from the respiratory system.

If your child coughs for a while after swallowing some bathwater, it could be a sign that they have some water in the lungs. 

The cough will typically last for several hours after the incident. 

Pain in the chest

If your little one continues to cry uncontrollably, it could be a sign of chest pains, often an indicator of water in the lungs.

If the baby is old enough to respond to you, ask them if their chest is sore. 


If your baby is unusually tired or feeling drowsy, it could be a sign that they’re not getting enough oxygen.

Water in the lungs affects how they take oxygen, depriving the body of energy. 

Blue skin

Your little one’s skin may start to turn blue if the lungs and airways can’t take in oxygen like they are supposed to.

What To Do If You Are Worried About Dry Drowning

If your child has all of these symptoms, take them to the ER or call 911 immediately for treatment.

Remember, any one of these signs in isolation is not necessarily a sign of dry drowning, so there’s usually no reason to panic. 

It’s a bit comforting to know that dry and secondary drowning are both very rare. According to WebMD,  dry drowning has a risk factor of less than 2%. 

Final thoughts

It’s understandable to worry if the baby swallows bathwater. However, there is usually nothing much to be concerned about. If you’re worried that your baby drank water with soap or shampoo, contact the Poison Control Centre.


baby swallowed bath water


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