Eden Strong was well aware that if water became trapped inside the floating toys her child played with in the bath, a dangerous amount of bacteria might begin to grow there if left unattended.
The Chicago-based freelance writer and mother of three had seen countless posts on social media from mothers who had ripped open their children’s rubber duckies only to discover a goldmine of mold. As a result, she made it a point to squeeze them dry after each bath and to wash them with water and bleach on a regular basis to prevent bacteria growth.
However, as she just shared on Facebook, it appears it wasn’t enough, and it took a harrowing trip to the emergency department for her to learn a lesson that she is now widely disseminating.
She stated in a September 21 Facebook post that she was hesitant to even share the story because she was concerned that some people may struggle to view the images. She admitted to CafeMom that she didn’t want to scare parents any longer, given the pandemic’s onset.
Strong, on the other hand, has given much thought to what she wishes she had known earlier in the months following, and she now thinks it is her obligation to warn other parents.
“Baylor squirted himself in the eye with a tub toy,” her nanny stated as they passed each other in her house’s upstairs hallway.
Strong saw a small amount of redness in one of his eyes but was unconcerned.
“I believed it was just irritated from the water, or maybe the pressure of the water, so I didn’t think much of it,” she stated later in her post.
That changed as the night progressed.
“I had my husband drive him over to urgent care, assuming he had pink eye, when I saw his eye seemed even redder than it had earlier when I put him in his high chair for dinner that night,” she explained.
So her two-year-old son was given prescription eye drops and instructed to go.
Baylor received one dose immediately, but Strong decided to give him a booster dose in the middle of the night to “be certain he would be feeling better by morning.”
But what she discovered when she entered his room shocked her.
Baylor, who was asleep in his crib, shot her a backward glance, his eye double the size it had been at bedtime. To make matters worse, his cheek was turning bright red.
That’s what a doctor determined when she brought him to the ER at 2:30 a.m.
Cellulitis is a common but potentially serious bacterial skin infection that causes swollen, red, and painful skin that may even feel warm to the touch, according to the Mayo Clinic.
While it is most commonly associated with the lower legs, it can also affect the face, arms, and other regions of the body. It usually happens when the skin develops a crack or break, allowing microorganisms to enter and produce an infection.
Baylor was sent home with an oral antibiotic prescription after his examination.
However, Strong was mistaken; when she checked on her kid in his crib a few hours later, she was stunned.
“I yelled to my husband to get in the van when I saw him in his cot at 6 a.m.,” Strong writes.
“His iris was obscured by his bigger eye, and the white portion of it protruded from between his eyelids. He felt warm to the touch, and a fast temperature check confirmed a high fever.”
Her terror grew as they got closer.
“I cried the entire way to a bigger hospital, praying that he wouldn’t lose his sight,” the mother said.
Bennett, her 9-year-old son, has epilepsy, and Savannah, her 12-year-old daughter, has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes connective tissue damage in the body. Over the years, she has made several trips to the hospital for both of her children, constantly concerned about their health and well-being.
However, those experiences have toughened her up in certain ways, teaching her how to deal with stressful situations and, more significantly, how to fight for the best treatment possible.
Strong tells CafeMom that she is “sadly used to dealing with medical concerns on a regular basis, and I believe it empowered me to fight for my child. It’s terrifying to think of what may have happened to Baylor if I had given up on lobbying for treatment and chosen to give the eyedrops a few days to work.”
Baylor was given an IV of antibiotics as soon as they arrived, and due to the considerable edema, a CT scan was immediately requested to check on his retina.
Despite receiving emergency attention, the trauma was far from over.
Strong described the following week as “extremely scary,” as she anticipated her son’s recovery.
He did have cellulitis, as she had thought, but it was such a severe case that it spread down his face and over both of his eyes. Doctors also warned her that because to the severity of the problem, Baylor would lose vision in one of his eyes.
She is still haunted by that heinous incident.
“It was like his entire future flashed before me, and everything looked different from what I had envisioned,” she claims.
After several days, Baylor’s eyes recovered, and Strong reports that his vision seems to be unaffected. However, she has a message for other parents that she simply cannot keep to herself in the aftermath of the horrible occurrence.
“‘How about tub toys?’ THROW THEM AWAY, ” She implored in her Facebook post. “To put it simply, you cannot clean them. I don’t have any photos of moldy tub toys to show you because there was never any visible mold to photograph. Even though I’d known since sixth grade science class that bacteria can’t be seen, I still thought I was better than dirty tub toys. I made a mistake.”
Strong claims she was unaware that harmful bacteria may still grow and remain undetectable to the naked eye on the inside of toys because she cleaned them with a bleach and water solution on a regular basis.
No one is more surprised than Strong, who says she is “completely flabbergasted” by how famous it has become.
“I put up the post last Monday night, and it began to spread so quickly that by Tuesday morning, the ability to have posts shared on my Facebook account was locked,” she tells CafeMom. ” W”hen it was unlocked Thursday night, the message spread like wildfire once more.”
According to her, the number of parents who have contacted her to share similar experiences has astonished and discouraged her. “It’s truly made me realize that the problem is much deeper and that the tub toys that manufacturers need to be thoroughly evaluated,” stated the author.
However, a substantial number of parents were frightened to learn that something similar could happen.
“OMG,” A parent wrote, “I had no idea.” “I am happy that he is doing well; his eyes are so beautiful.”
A third person commented, “How terrifying.” “I was aware that they had accumulated black mold because I had seen it on my own children’s toys, but I was ignorant that bleach would not address the problem.” “My kids squirted the item at themselves and each other, so I’m not sure how they avoided the same fate.”
Even those who are not parents appreciated the warning.
“I don’t have kids yet, but I’m extremely grateful you posted this,” one Facebook user said. “I’m so sorry you and your child had to go through this!” And I’m overjoyed that he’s recovered!”
Others, on the other hand, suggested ways to keep tub toys secure. Several tub toys are recommended but lack air holes through which water can enter. (One mother even stated that she avoids purchasing actual toys in favor of allowing her children to play with objects such as strainers and Tupperware.)
Others demonstrated a previously unknown method for preventing water from entering the toys in the first place.
“I’ve seen folks buy brand-new ones and fix the hole with hot glue so that kids can still play with the toy but water doesn’t seep inside and get nasty,” one individual remarked.
Strong was astonished to discover that the majority of the comments were overwhelmingly positive.
“I was scared that people would reject me as an alarmist, but after reading thousands of comments from parents whose children experienced something similar, I am now delighted to be the one sounding the alarm,” she says.
She said Baylor is doing fine and that he handled the situation “like a warrior.”
“He did spend quite a deal of time smiling his way through everything, even though I chose some of the more distressing photographs of him for my post,” she continues.
Nonetheless, she thinks she will never forget hearing Baylor say, “Go home, mom!” while she restrained him so nurses could insert an IV.
Strong goes on to state that the toddler’s frequent rubbing of his eyes, which was difficult to stop, most certainly aggravated the illness and spread it to both eyes.
But for the time being, she’s just grateful that everything is over and that, ideally, their story can spare others from experiencing the same heartache.