A mother is warning other parents to be careful, after her toddler was almost permanently blinded by a common toy.
US mum Eden Strong explained on Facebook she was initially reluctant to share her nightmarish experience with her social media followers due to the photos being “so gross”, but decided other parents should be warned.
One day when Ms Strong, who is based in Chicago, was passing her son, Baylor, and his nanny coming out of the bathroom, the nanny told her the toddler had squirted himself in the eye with a bath toy and his eye was a little red.
“I figured it was just irritated from the water, or maybe the pressure of the water, and so I didn’t think much of it,” Ms Strong wrote on her public Facebook page, Eden Strong - No Shame.
Later, she put her son in his high chair, Ms Strong noticed Baylor’s eye was redder than it was before, so she got her husband to take him to the doctor, assuming he had pink eye.
“The doctor agreed and I patted myself on the back a bit for being so attentive,” Ms Strong explained.
To ensure Baylor was feeling better by the morning, Ms Strong gave him a booster shot in the middle of the night.
“I wasn’t expecting to find him in his crib with an eye twice the size as it was when he went to bed, with redness spreading down his cheek,” she said.
This time, she thought maybe Baylor might be developing cellulitis and rushed him off to the ER, there another doctor agreed it might be that, writing a script for the family.
Baylor had some of the oral antibiotics at 2.30am that morning, however, his situation worsened by the time Ms Strong woke up the next morning.
“When he woke up at 6am and I laid eyes on him in his crib, I screamed to my husband to get in the car,” she explained.
“His eye was so swollen that the white part was bulging out from between his eyelid and his iris was being obscured. He felt hot to the touch and a temperature check showed that he had a raging fever.
“Despite having another child with epilepsy and therefore being pretty good at keeping my cool, I cried the entire drive to a larger hospital, praying that he wouldn’t lose his eye.”
As soon as Baylor and his family walked into the hospital, he was put on IV antibiotics and a CT scan was done to check his retina.
Ms Strong said the next week was “pretty scary”, Baylor did have cellulitis and not just in the eye he squirted with the toy.
“He had severe cellulitis that eventually spread down his face and to both eyes,” Ms Strong said.
“They warned me that he may lose vision in the worse eye, but in the end, thank the Lord his eyes healed.”
Mum’s passionate plea about common toys
Ms Strong explained she knew water could get trapped in those rubber toys which can squirt water.
“I’ve seen the posts where moms have cut them open and discovered a ridiculous amount of mould inside,” she wrote.
“I knew. So I squeezed them out after each bath, cleaned them out every few weeks with a bleach water solution, and regularly held them up to the light to look for mould.
“However, I didn’t know that even with regular bleach cleaning, the fact that they never fully dry on the inside means that bacteria can still grow. Invisible bacteria.”
Her message to other parents who let their children play with such toys is simple - throw them out.
“You cannot clean them, you just can’t,” she said.
Ms Strong explained she had no photos of the mould inside the toys because the mould was invisible.
“So those tub toys? Just throw them out,” she pleaded.
“Please share and prevent another baby from going through what I accidentally put mine through.”
Graphic photos shared thousands of times online
Ms Strong’s Facebook post has been shared over 160,000 times since she shared the graphic photos on September 22.
On Facebook, people were grateful Ms Strong had used her platform to inform other parents about the potential dangers of the toys.
However, some people offered an alternative to throwing out the bath toys with holes.
“I have seen people get brand new ones and use hot glue to cover the hole so that kids can still play with the toy but water doesn’t get inside it and get nasty,” one person suggested.
Speaking to CBS, Ms Strong said Baylor has since made a full recovery and she has sent the bath toy to the company that makes them, though she hasn’t heard back.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.