What Happens If the Baby Swallowed Saline Drops?

Saline drops are a great remedy for a stuffy nose. They offer good relief that helps the baby breathe normally without the congested nose.

However, accidents do happen and your baby can swallow saline drops. What do you do next? How do you help the situation? These and more questions will be running through your mind.

It can be frustrating when such an accident happens. But if you know what to do, it offers satisfaction and deescalates your anxiety. 

What is a saline drop?

What is a saline drop

It’s a medication that a parent gives the baby to clear the stuffy nose and keep it clean and moisturized.  The drops mimic the natural fluids of the body to minimize irritation. As much as your baby may sometimes gag the drops when they reach the throat, it’s not enough for the baby to choke on the saline drops. 

However,  if the baby drinks a bottle of the saline drops it can be a problem because of the salt content. But still, the risk is minimal. Therefore, it’s good to know what to do in case such an incident happens. The worry comes from the fact that children and infants have a recommended salt intake which may be exceeded if the baby swallows a bottle of the saline drops. 

What happens if your baby swallowed saline drops?

What happens if your baby swallowed saline drops

Medicated saline drops or over-the-counter nasal decongestant spray can pose a serious health risk to the baby. It’s the sole reason heh such medication should be kept away from their reach. As much as swallowing saline drops doesn’t cause death, it has serious adverse effects that make the baby uncomfortable and lead to hospitalization. 

The FDA warns that such medicines contain active ingredients like imidazole derivatives. Your baby will experience the following symptoms.

  • Vomiting
  • Sleepiness or sedation 
  • Decreased breathing 
  • Nausea
  • Hypothermia
  • Drooling
  • Decreased heartbeat 
  • Coma

Therefore, parents should be vigilant when administering saline drops or nasal decongestant sprays to safeguard the health of their babies. Saline drops are a common medication for decongesting the stuffy nose of babies to ease breathing. However, the active ingredients present in the medicated saline warrant careful administration.

If the baby accidentally swallows the drops, call the poison hotline of your doctor for a quick remedy. Alternatively, seek immediate medical attention. 

You may be doing something only to discover your baby is holding a bottle of saline drops in the mouth. 

Maybe you gave your baby saline drops and left the bottle nearby only to find it empty.  There are cases when parents found the baby playing with an empty bottle of saline drops.

Check the baby if they exhibit the above symptoms and seek immediate medical attention.  If the baby swallows 1.5ml to 3ml of saline drops, it can cause serious health problems. The baby may suffer serious respiratory depression, central nervous system failure, or a coma. 

What should you do if your baby swallows non-medicated saline drops?

What should you do if your baby swallows non-medicated saline drops

It shouldn’t worry you if it’s not medicated. Give your baby plenty of fluids to flush out any unwanted things from the system. It’s advisable to keep medicine away from your baby to avoid unnecessary risks or stress. 

Swallowing saline drops only makes the baby uncomfortable but is not harmful. Think of it like swallowing tears. It’s a little salty but the baby will be okay. Probably your baby cried because of the salty water going up their nose. 

Ingested saline is a laxative which means your baby will poop fast. You need to have baby diapers ready. 

Check if your saline drops are medicated and if not, you have nothing to be worried about because it will only cause slight discomfort. Otherwise, your baby is fine. It’s not a case of poisoning, but if you feel you need an opinion of a medical professional, you can call your pharmacist or doctor for more advice. 

However, if your saline drops are medicated, consult your doctor immediately for more direction. 

How to prevent risks posed by saline drops

As much as saline drops are useful in helping relieve nasal stuffing and help restore smooth breathing, the risk of swallowing saline drops warrants serious considerations in how you store the drug or its administration.

Below are tips to protect your baby from swallowing saline drops. Abide by them to ensure the safety of your baby. Also, be careful how you handle the medication like only performing one task at a time to avoid being absent-minded and giving your baby too much nasal decongestant spray.

  • Store the medicine in a safe location away from the reach of your baby.
  • Don’t leave the medicine on the sofa, couch, bed, table, etc where your baby can easily access it.
  • Relock the safety cap of the bottle after use.
  • Don’t take your medication in the presence of your baby because the little ones mimic what adults do.
  • Inform your friends, houseguests, babysitter, etc to hang their coats high up to prevent the baby from accessing medication they carry.


Always pay attention when giving your baby medication. Multitasking has its perks but also can bring unnecessary anxiety. Saline drops help decongest a stuffy nose and help your baby breathe properly. However, be careful not to forget the bottle afterward because the baby may swallow the contents causing panic. If the baby swallowed saline drops, call the poison hotline or seek medical attention immediately.

Sarah, a health writer and editor since 2014, is an adoring wife and dedicated mother to 2 daughters and 1 son. As the creator of Babies Plannet, she combines her extensive expertise with her maternal dedication to provide essential care and safety advice for infants, nurturing their well-being and happiness. Her writing explores topics like fitness, pregnancy, and women's healthy lifestyles.

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