If there is one little drug that every family with young children should have it is Ipecac. I only learned about this little miracle from my 75-year old Pediatrician who told me to buy it and just keep it someplace where it was readily available without having to dig through the entire medicine cabinet.

Syrup of ipecac /ˈɪpɨkæk/, commonly referred to as ipecac, is derived from the dried rhizome and roots of the ipecacuanha. It is typically used to induce vomiting, which it accomplishes by irritating the lining of the stomach (gastric mucosa) and by stimulating part of the brain called the medullary chemoreceptor trigger zone.

Yep! That’s what is does. It makes you throw up! And it does it quickly and painlessly.

My eldest was two at the time and all medicines were stored in a medicine cabinet above the bathroom sink. We thought this was the way to keep the toddler away from anything that could possibly harm her, so we never gave it a second thought that one-day, while I was nursing her sister (that’s right, I had Irish twins) out comes my daughter with a bottle of baby aspirin in her hand! That wasn’t bad enough, but when I inspected the bottle there were no baby aspirins in it!

“How did you get this Lynn? Where are the little pink pills that were in the bottle?”

And this was a childproof locking cap! I put her sister in the crib and I ran to the bathroom and saw the medicine cabinet open and the toilet seat down. I couldn’t believe my eyes! The little devil climbed onto the toilet and then stood in the sink! I started to look all over the floor to see if she dropped the pills out of the bottle.


With the innocence of a toddler she answers, “I ate them Mommy, they were good.”

OH MY GOD! I ran to the phone and had this pit in my stomach. I knew that the bottle was nearly full before she got a hold of it. And as I reached for the phone book to look up the number (there wasn’t a 911 hotline in 1979) for Poison Control I had this nagging feeling in the back of my brain that made me hesitate for a half second. Because when I call this number, I just knew that whoever answered my call would judge me, as a stupid, careless, don’t love my kid kind of parent.

Of course I called!

I wasn’t a stupid, careless, don’t love my kid kind of parent! How could this happen? I was still in a state of shock and Lynn just seemed to carry on as if nothing happened out of the ordinary.

So with her infant sister in my one arm and the phone in my other, a very nice woman spent a few moments calming me down and then asked if I had any Ipecac in the house. I told her yes and she told me to give the kid a tablespoon of this little drug. She also told me to make sure the child was near a bowl, sink or toilet because it was going to make her vomit. Now you have to know that Ipecac is sickly sweet, which is why kids will take it without any fuss. I thanked the woman, who by the way never uttered a condescending word to me about the incident, and proceeded to drag my baby aspirin thieving daughter into the bathroom.

Let me tell you how great this stuff worked! She took the tablespoon of the Ipecac and within a half a minute, I swear, everything came up! And yes, there was the entire bottle of baby aspirin in the toilet! But the best part was that the kid just went about the rest of her day. There were no side effects, no gagging aftermath… Nope. She acted like that was just something routine!

Of course her father and I had to find another place to stash the medicines and I ALWAYS had that little bottle of inexpensive medicine on hand. I was grateful that I never again had to use it with any of my kids.

Many of us joke that we can get through life with Duct Tape and WD-40. I would add two things to that list if I once again had a toddler (if that happened at this age I would be on the cover of one of the tabloids). They would be…

Neosporin and Ipecac!

Additional info: If you need to speak with someone because you are worried about something your child swallowed, you can call The American Association of Poison Control Centers. Poison centers offer free, confidential medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222.

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