Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is Styrofoam Considered a Carbohydrate?

Recently, it has frustrated me that Logan has become a total "carbivore." I call him that because he is completely enamored with crackers, cereal, and bread, mainly although he loves tortilla chips, pretzels, and even plain tortillas, oddly enough. We try to ration crackers in our house, and even avoid buying them for stretches of time to avoid caving in to our little "cracker fiend," as we like to call him. Really, I am trying to offer him a variety of choices to try to ensure that he is getting a balanced diet, but I think he would subsist entirely on carbohydrates if we allowed him to. Sometimes, it's not worth the battle. Is he eating something? If the answer is yes, I think I can live with that (most of the time). So what if he sometimes makes a small meal/large snack out of croutons? While that would be strange for most people, I think it is within the range of normalcy for a toddler.

On the other hand, while I am trying to be tolerant of his taste preferences, I still cannot figure out why he is so quick to eat non-food items. In the past he has eaten everything from toilet paper and board books to sand, and that's not even counting the things I have caught him gnawing on (rocks, shoes, my hard glasses case, etc.) but not actually ingesting. Tonight, he added Styrofoam to his list of toddler taste-tested items. Ack!

We got a new programmable slow cooker delivered today. (Yeah!) So, of course, the kids were playing with the two boxes, one from the slow cooker and a larger one from Amazon. No big deal, I thought; that will keep them safely entertained while I flip through a magazine trying to find a how-to article I had read awhile back... Then, I looked up and saw bits of Styrofoam all over the floor. My first thought was that someone was tearing it apart just to be naughty, but when I started picking the pieces up I noticed they were wet. Then, Logan started gagging like he was going to throw up and I quickly realized that they had been in his mouth. He didn't get sick, and he seemed well enough for the moment, so I scooped up all the Styrofoam and ran it outside to the trash can.

After coming back in, I was trying not to worry, but I couldn't help but wonder if he had actually eaten any of the Styrofoam. And then, I wondered if he had eaten it, would it be harmful? I texted Brett, but didn't hear back from him, which didn't surprise me because I knew he was in a meeting at church. A quick Google search didn't yield satisfying results. Then, I thought about calling the pediatrician, but at 7:30 at night I knew I would get a message service that wouldn't be able to answer any questions. It didn't seem fair to the doctor to have her paged when I knew it wasn't an emergency.

My gut told me he was going to be fine, but still, there was the guilt-induced fear that something could happen and I would never forgive myself if I hadn't done whatever was necessary to avoid it if possible. He wasn't the most reliable source of information considering our conversation went something like this:

Me: "Logan, did you swallow the pieces? Did you chew them up so they went to your tummy?"
Logan: "Yes."
Me: {Thinking he may just be saying "yes" to be agreeable, I tried it the other way.} "Logan, did you spit out all the Styrofoam?"
Logan: "Yes."

So, not knowing for sure if he had actually ingested any Styrofoam, I did what seemed like the most logical thing to do: I called Poison Control. (Admittedly, this is not my first time calling them. Last summer, Logan had gotten a hold of the spray sunscreen, and possibly gotten some in his mouth, so I called them just to reassure myself.) Tonight, I spoke to a woman named Rita who assured me that Styrofoam is not considered toxic and that I didn't need to induce vomiting. (In fact, she said, they rarely tell people to do that anymore. The recommendation she said was to dilute the item of concern.) That said, if you are concerned about something your child may have ingested, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222. I have a magnet with the number on our refrigerator. I also have the number programmed into my cell phone just in case. I promise that they are really nice, and don't interrogate you or otherwise make you feel like you are an awful parent.

Rita assured me repeatedly that Logan would be fine and that she had heard of kids eating just about anything. The only thing to possibly worry about, according to Rita, is that Styrofoam can cause bowel obstructions if large chunks are consumed. Fantastic. I don't know what is considered "large chunks." The pieces I picked up that had evidently been in his mouth were bigger than a quarter in diameter, and far, far bigger than I would feel comfortable with him eating if it were food. Rita told me that if he was eating and drinking now, then he was probably fine. So after hanging up the phone, I called the kids to the table for a snack. Mia was actually a bit suspicious, probably since it was so close to bedtime, and she asked, "Why are you being so nice to us and giving us crackers and lemonade?" I wasn't about to tell her that those were the quickest items that came to mind that he would be sure to eat and drink. After all, a mom needs to know her trump cards any play them at the right time.

The good news, is that he scarfed down the first 5 crackers I gave him, and immediately asked for more. Most likely, the little cracker fiend probably did not consume "large chunks" of Styrofoam. After he devoured the next 3 crackers, I decided let him have just 2 more. I thought 10 crackers was plenty to see if he had an appetite. Even guilt-ridden moms have to set limits, right? It was obvious that my little carbivore had no problem eating his beloved crackers. Now, only one question remains: Is Styrofoam considered a carbohydrate?

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