You know those moments that make you feel like a terrible person, a terrible parent, and not worthy of being tasked with raising children. That happened to me – last night.

Little Man likes to brush his teeth. He just straight up likes it. He likes the toothbrushes with the spinning tops. He likes the toothbrushes that light up. He even likes the plain dollar store toothbrushes. What we do keep at a minimum though is toothpaste. I have read the back of the toothpaste tube. I really don’t like the idea of anything my child puts on his body or in his body being toxic. I’m sure he comes in contact with tons of things that are toxic throughout the day in everyday life.  Why would I add to that by knowingly giving them something toxic?  (Because I let my frugality get the best of me. More on that later.)

But this is toothpaste. And you can’t really get around needing toothpaste. I mean, I guess you could pull all your teeth. But I’m sure that would bring on its own set of issues. (I am not sure how nontoxic denture creams are.) I had found a terrific toothpaste which we are now switching to as of 24 hours ago, but obviously I had not bought it yet. Because we spent last night in the ER after my son had ingested an unknown quantity of store bought children’s training toothpaste.

Here is a rundown of what happened:

Swag has been climbing on the toilets to get into the over the toilet cabinets. So we bought a new cabinet that goes opposite the toilet in his bathroom and took down the over toilet cabinets. Yesterday we installed the new cabinet. That being said, we spent some extra family time in the bathroom because the kids helped me with measuring, leveling, marking, and using a motored screwdriver. At some point during this family fun time Swag grabbed a tube of children’s training toothpaste with princesses on the front. I took it from him twice, and I thought it was a non-event. The new cabinet was up.  Problem solved.

We made lunch and then set about our next task of building a cardboard rocket ship for the two of them to ride. This humble cardboard box went through many different stages of engineering from truck, rocket ship, and eventually a doghouse. Swag was inside being the dog and my daughter would feed him chocolate covered raisins through the window.

Little did I know, that while he was being a good dog inside his cardboard box, he was also harboring a secret. He had re-attained the tube of training toothpaste, and was systematically eating its contents. Later when we were cleaning up, I found the tube. It was training toothpaste so I didn’t think much about it. I threw it away since he knew it was wrong enough to hide the evidence and we were switching toothpaste brands anyway.

He had been kind of grumpy all day and the day before.  I found the toothpaste around 2:30 so I wasn’t even thinking the toothpaste could have made him sick. After bedtime though, he vomited in his sleep. I suspect he had a stomach bug or he had just eaten something that was disagreeing with him. After a quick bath, I wrapped him in a towel and took him to bed with me. In my head, I ran through everything he had eaten that day and the day before.  As well as, where we had been to see if I could track down what could have caused him to throw up. And then I remembered the toothpaste.

I immediately put Hubby on the task of looking into the toothpaste on the off chance it was the culprit.  In my mind, this was a total outlier possibility.  Now remember, this was children’s toothpaste. Training toothpaste. Bubblegum flavored toothpaste. With children’s characters on the tube. This product was designed for children to straight up want to use it, ingest it (what 2 year old can spit properly), and keep coming back for more. I thought this toothpaste was to teach kids how to properly use toothpaste, not be a danger itself!  The fear I felt as my husband read about fluoride/toothpaste poisoning sent me into a sheer blackout style panic.

I had a product in my house that could actually severely hurt my children that is a children’s product! And how do I know it could severely hurt my children? Because we called poison control and they sent us to the hospital even 10 hours after he possibly had ingested the toothpaste. Because there was an enough of whatever in one tube of children’s training toothpaste to cause heavy metal poisoning for my incredibly oversized 2 ½-year-old! (He wears 4t clothes!) I find this to be total insanity.

Here’s the second part that I also find astounding. The poison control center and the pediatric ER doctor both could not agree on how much was safe to ingest. They both agreed it was toxic. They both agreed there is a quantity that could cause serious harm to my child. They both agreed it was possible for that toxic amount to be present in ONE TUBE of toothpaste.  What they couldn’t figure out is at what point we should be concerned. After 40 minutes and two attempts at calculations, the ER doctor says “Well, we think you will be okay”. Not necessarily the most comforting words .They kept saying things like, “Well, if he shows symptoms of dizziness, not willing to stand up, lethargy, or profuse vomiting”.  I just looked at them thinking, if my child showed any of those signs I would take them to the hospital or their regular GP even if toothpaste wasn’t on my mind. But it goes to show, if children ingest this toxin you must wait till they are neurologically impaired or physically absorbing it into their membranes (hospital words not mine) before knowing if it’s an issue.

I’m sorry but my child is not a guinea pig. And I hate the feeling of being duped by company that produces products for children’s use.  That product is no safer for children than a sharp knife. It should come with the warnings on the FRONT.  It should NOT taste like bubble gum. It should come in much SMALLER TUBES without the option of a big tube. Because like my son, I felt a certain amount of security because it WAS designed as a children’s product.

Who would knowingly produce a product that will harm a child if the child behaves as a child?

I did not have an immediate point of concern when he had eaten the toothpaste because we have been using this toothpaste, this particular tube of toothpaste, for at least 13 months. So I know it wasn’t full. It likely was not even half full. But what if I had just bought it and it was full and easy to squeeze out? Too scary to think about.

To be honest. I am fortunate. My son is fortunate. We learned about the dangers of toothpaste through an incredible scare and had information brought to us by medical professionals: The poison control center and pediatric ER doctors. I’m sure he likely ingested no more than a tablespoon and probably picked up a stomach bug from his gymnastics class or the chick filet playground. Or the three scrambled eggs he had for lunch may have made him a little too gassy.  Or the full cup of water he drank right before he went to bed didn’t sit well with the pistachio nuts and lasagna he ate right before. We will most likely never know.

But what I do know is you will not find grocery isle toothpaste in my house again. Or the other products the ER doctor says he sees all the time. I will do whatever I can to keep my child for from being just another statistic for the poison control center. (Which rocks by the way if you ever need them call 1-800-222-1222)

Now for the part that made me feel like a bad person.

I am not what you call a crunchy mama but you could say I’m pretty crispy. We buy our organic grass fed beef by the cow, as much organic vegetarian fed meats and eggs that are available. We buy organic vegetables as much as possible, and utilize our farmers markets whenever they are open. I use only do-it-yourself laundry soaps that are is toxin free as possible as well as cleaners that I feel comfortable letting my children use like baking soda and vinegar. I bathe my kids in full fat coconut milk and use only sulfate free natural shampoos and conditioners. My furniture is screwed into the walls, my plugs are covered, and my knives are at my eye level on a shelf nearly impossible for them to reach. There are child safety locks on my drawers and cabinets. I even keep my dogs water outside and feed them high quality gluten-free dog food in case my children would ever decide to try it.  But, I didn’t listen to my instinct on the toothpaste.

Before Christmas, I had bought a wholesale club membership to a toxic free, organic, crunchy style, online company. I told myself in January I would buy a selection of products and see if I liked them.  As a family, we had decide 2014 would be the year to take our health to a new level.  One of their product is the toothpaste I mentioned earlier.  Somehow they have created a toothpaste that won’t make my child sick.  Obviously I wasn’t concerned enough to go ahead and order the toxic free toothpaste from Essante Organics, but I had already stopped using their toothpaste when we brushed their teeth.  I just did not removed it from the bathroom.  I was not concerned, because my frugality told me I could wait until my toothpaste ran out before I purchased this more expensive tube of toothpaste that was 100% toxic free and organic.  My inner hoarder told me it was ok to keep the training toothpaste.

Instead, I paid a $150 co-pay, likely took two years off of my life, and risked my child’s health.  That expensive tube is looking pretty cheap right now. And having firsthand knowledge from an ER doctor of so many products that poison our children who unknowingly are drawn to pretty colors and wrappers, unknowingly poisoning themselves with bubblegum flavored heavy metals.  I am going to replace more of our household products.

I sincerely challenge you to trash any products that carry a health risk warning label.  It is never worth the price.  And replace them with products that benefit your health.  You do not need to listen to me.  Just do your own research.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and I do not believe that toothpaste is an evil product. If used as suggested with a pea size amount and none is ingested, I’m sure the toxicity level will require you to brush your teeth 24 hours a day in order to feel an immediate effect of toxicity. For an adult we know not to eat toothpaste. But my two-year-old obviously does not grasp that concept. So it was naïve of me to think the children’s product was safer just because it was labeled and marketed for children.  I totally accept responsibility for the toothpaste finding its way to his hands and eventually his mouth.