A 6-week-old baby girl in Wisconsin was hospitalized this week for having an astonishingly high blood alcohol level, and it’s not for the reason you’d think.
The baby ingested two shots of vodka, and parents say it was an honest mistake.
As unbelievable as it all sounds, here’s what went down between two parents that led to a blood alcohol level in an infant that was three times the adult legal limit. On Monday night, the baby girl’s mother filled a container with water that she planned to use to make a bottle of baby formula, setting it on the kitchen counter and walking out of the room. Then, the baby girl’s father came into the kitchen, emptying out the water bottle and filling it with vodka so he could take it to a friend’s house.
In the kind of bait-and-switch you would only see in a sitcom, the baby’s mother came back into the kitchen, where she used two ounces of vodka to mix up baby formula for her daughter. It wasn’t until the baby began to act strange that the parents started to put the pieces together. The baby was rushed to the hospital with a blood alcohol level of 0.294. Cops have investigated but say the couple won’t be charged in relation to the alcohol incident, and the little girl is expected to be released from the hospital soon.
This story would almost, almost, be comical if it wasn’t so frighteningly relevant to every new parent reading this. It’s not until you become a parent that you realize your world has been turned upside down. You can’t leave adult substances on the counter top anymore — because your kids will inevitably find them and try to eat them. You have to communicate with your partner about everything, or you risk double dosing your baby with Tylenol or, even worse, unknowingly feeding them a few shots of vodka.
These parents messed up in a way that is possible for almost any new parent to do. They forgot to handle their adult substances with more care than usual. They didn’t think about the fact that as soon as you pop out a baby, you’re held to a much higher standard — parents of young children have to be constantly alert, sleeping with one eye open to make sure their baby doesn’t get into anything that could harm them.
This isn’t an exaggeration. It’s more common than you think for parents to forget to put the dangerous stuff away, inevitably leading to a terrible accident that could have been easily prevented. We see less tragic, “near miss” stories like this all the time — like the toddler who overdosed on the candy-like e-cigarette liquid her dad accidentally left out. We also see terrible tragedies that chill us to the core — like the toddler who killed herself with the loaded gun her dad left in the living room.
This doesn’t even cover the staggering amount of child poisonings called in to Poison Control each year. Besides the more obvious dangers, like alcohol and firearms, kids are known to get into anything and everything. Poisoning from everyday household substances (not including vodka) is considered a public health issue among children. In the U.S., more than 1 million cases of poison exposure among kids younger than 6 are reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers each year — and even these numbers are thought to be grossly underestimated. Seventy percent of non-fatal poisonings occur in very young children, ages 1 to 2. According to Poison Control, kids are most commonly poisoned by cosmetics, cleaning products, pain medicine and foreign objects they ingest, like thermometers, coins and toys. Parents have been recently warned to keep laundry pods out of reach of children, after a 7-month-old baby died from eating one in 2013.
These numbers aren’t intended to scare you, but they are intended to wake us all up. As we saw in the case of the parents with the vodka-infused baby formula, it’s easy to let down your guard and forget. No parent is perfect, but it’s still our job to assess risk and keep adult items out of reach of children. Baby proofing isn’t just about installing locks on your bathroom cabinets. It’s about staying one step ahead.