If you have a young child then you’re probably more than aware of their tendency to put toys and other objects in their mouths, and play dough (or Play Doh) is no exception.
While this can be frustrating from a choking and hygiene point of view, what you’re probably even more concerned about right now is whether play dough is toxic.
The good news is that while not designed to be eaten, most play dough is nontoxic and not poisonous, and is therefore unlikely to harm your child if eaten in small amounts.
Having said this, it’s still important to teach your child that play dough is not for eating, and it’s a good idea to know what to do if your little one does end up eating some Play Doh.
Is Play Doh Safe To Eat?
Clearly play dough (which includes the popular brand Play Doh) is not designed to be eaten.
However, the manufacturers of commercial play doughs (the ones you find in shops) know that the intended market for their product is young children.
Given toddlers have a tendency to put things in their mouths, play dough manufacturers have deliberately made sure their products are nontoxic so as to not harm children if they eat some in small quantities.
Can You Eat Play Doh?
As play dough is not a food, it’s important to tell your child that this isn’t something they should put in their mouth and eat.
However, even with the best of will there will be times when your baby finds a way to do the exact opposite of what you intended, or what you told them not to do.
Technically speaking most brands of play dough are safe to consume, but this doesn’t mean you should be complacent.
While the exact recipe of Play Doh is a trade secret, most play dough usually contains salt, flour, water and allergens like gluten (more on this shortly).
Given the high quantity of salt, it is unlikely that your child will find the taste of play dough anything but disgusting, so with any luck they will spit it out.
Allergens aside, the bigger concern with play dough is that when it’s broken into small pieces it can become a choking hazard for young children.
For this reason it’s advisable to only let your child play with play dough when they are under your constant supervision.
Is Play Doh Toxic?
It’s good practice for parents to always read the labels and instructions of products to ensure they are safe for your child and their current developmental stage / age.
However, given what we said about the intended audience, most of the commercially available play dough on the market, which includes brands like Hasbro Play Doh and Crayola Dough, are nontoxic.
Incidentally this is similar to Crayola markers and crayons, other childhood favorites which are not toxic.
What Happens If You Eat Play Doh?
If your child has eaten Play Doh then the first thing to do is stay calm, because in most cases it’s unlikely to have any negative consequences if only a small quantity has been consumed.
You should keep in mind however that most play dough contains salt and allergens like gluten, so if your child has a celiac disease this could be an issue.
Play dough also contains coloring agents, so some children may have an allergic reaction to these ingredients too.
If your child shows any signs of an allergic reaction then you should of course seek medical help immediately.
For most children however, eating small amounts of play dough is unlikely to have a serious effect.
If you noticed your child ate Play Doh, then you should ensure they drink plenty of water, which will help dilute the salt.
You should also keep an eye out for the following:
- Choking, which is the primary safety concern for children who eat play dough
- Abdominal Cramping
Again, if you notice your child has any of these symptoms then you should seek medical assistance immediately.
How To Stop Your Child Eating Play Doh
- Explain to your child that play dough is not meant to be eaten.
- Wait until your child is at least 2 years of age before giving them play doh as a toy. By this age the temptation to put objects in their mouths will hopefully have reduced.
- Do not introduce fragranced play dough until your child is truly old enough to understand and know they should not eat it.
- If your little one is still tempted to put play dough in their mouth after the above, then it’s best to put the stuff away and wait a few weeks or months until they’re hopefully in a better position to understand play dough is not edible.