A: Babies and toddlers think everything can go in their mouths, so it's up to you to keep anything even remotely harmful well out of their reach. But if you suspect your child has swallowed a poisonous substance, contact the Poison Control Center immediately (800-222-1222), and tell them what your child has swallowed. They will probably ask questions like your child's age, weight, and if she has vomited. Based on this information they will instruct you whether or not you need to go to the emergency room. If your child is unconscious, having trouble breathing, or having seizures, call 911 before calling Poison Control.
You shouldn't give your child syrup of ipecac or try to make her throw up. Some pediatricians may recommend that you keep activated charcoal in your medicine cabinet. This is a powder taken orally that acts like a magnet to absorb the poison, but doesn't induce vomiting. But you should speak with your pediatrician about its proper storage and use. --Julie Evans
Originally published in American Baby magazine, July 2004. Updated 2009.