What to Do If Your Child Accidentally Swallows an Edible

Weed is becoming more popular, and with edible products becoming more commonplace, there’s more risk for kids.

If your child has ingested an edible, jump straight to the steps below and act fast!

Some of you might also be reading this guide as a just-in-case. Now that many states have legalized cannabis, the risk of our kids breaking into our stash is ever-increasing.

We all know the risks associated with smoking, and so many cannabis users have opted for edibles instead. They provide the same effects but in a delicious form with none of the dangers of smoking. The trouble is that they look just like candy.

It’s all too easy for a child to stumble across a box of edibles and eat the entire tub of weed gummies.

This article will cover the five steps you need to take if your child has eaten a cannabis edible. Plus, there’s information on how to recognize a marijuana ‘overdose’ and advice on how to prevent your kids from eating edibles.

Step #1 – Did They Really Ingest THC?

First off, take a step back from the situation. What really happened? If your edibles are gone, it could be the case that your child has eaten them, or they might have just moved them. Another potential culprit is the dog, which is a whole other problem you need to take care of immediately.

Secondly, what was in your edibles? Was it a pot brownie or a CBD gummy? While it’s not a good thing to let your kid eat an entire tub of CBD gummies, it’s also not life-threatening. It would only be a concern if your child had access to THC.

When working out what happened, bear in mind the time delay. Edibles can take a while to sink in, even in a child-sized body. If you caught them in the act or immediately after they scoffed the edibles, then they might not exhibit symptoms immediately. Just because your child is acting normally doesn’t mean they’re safe.

Once you have determined that they ingested THC, continue with the steps below – even if they aren’t displaying symptoms.

Step #2 – Don’t Panic

It’s hard, but stay calm. Up to now, nobody has ever died from a marijuana overdose. Panicking will only cause distress for your child. So, remain calm and tuck them up on the couch with their favorite toy and a blanket while you handle the situation. It’s alright if they fall asleep, but keep checking to see that you can wake them up.

Another reason to stay calm is that you will approach the situation better. Panic will only make things worse.

Step #3 – Work out the Problem

This step is a more detailed counterpart to step one; you need to figure out what happened. It’s best to grab a pen and paper. Write down what your child ate and when – if you can work that out. Details such as the THC content are super helpful for medical professionals later on.

Critical signs of marijuana intoxication include lethargy, nausea, and lack of balance.

You also need to make a note of any symptoms. We cover the details of marijuana intoxication symptoms below, but critical signs to look out for are lethargy, nausea, and lack of balance. Of course, you’re in the best position as a parent to say when your child is acting out of sorts, so make a note of anything you think is strange.

This step is important because the high stress of the situation can cause you to omit essential details when talking to medical professionals.

Step #4 – Call Poison Control

Next, you need to call poison control, who will help you decide if you need to take your child to the hospital. But, of course, you can also skip this step and drive them to the ER if you’re concerned about anything in particular or are struggling to rouse them.

Step #5 – Take Them to the Hospital

Stay calm, and grab your things. You’ll need any notes you made and any packaging from the edibles. Drive safely; there’s no point rushing and causing an accident that prevents you from reaching the hospital.

The doctors will ask for information, including your child’s medical history. You need to be very honest about the situation. Marijuana intoxication has similar symptoms to other problems, such as meningitis. Revealing the issue ensures that the doctors can work on treatment straight away without conducting unnecessary tests.


Here are some quick ways to recognize acute intoxication in children:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness and loss of balance
  • Red eyes
  • Fatigue and struggling to stay awake

According to researchers from the University of California, lethargy is the primary side effect in kids who ingest weed. Uncharacteristic tiredness is one of the main things to look out for.

Is Weed Dangerous for Children?

Yes and no. Although marijuana can be harmful, it isn’t fatal. Ingesting a lot of THC can be damaging for a child in the short term, even sending some children into a comatose state in very rare cases.

The long-term effects are more concerning. Therefore, it’s vital to keep cannabis out of the way of children and teenagers. Some studies, such as this one published in Neuropsychopharmacology, have found that early use of marijuana can cause long-term effects on the brain. Teenage marijuana use is associated with a delay in cognitive function that sets children back behind their peers.

Of course, a child accidentally breaking into your edibles stash on one occasion is unlikely to impact brain development. Prolonged use is the root of the issue. However, the short-term dangers of massive cannabis ingestion are enough to trigger concern for parents. Sadly, the issue is becoming increasingly problematic.

How Big Is the Problem?

According to local law enforcement, incidents of children accidentally consuming THC are on the rise. In addition, poison control is experiencing a rise in cases of intoxication by pot. Unfortunately, the consequences can be severe.

In Albuquerque, a fifth-grade pupil brought in a box of gummies to share with her friends, not realizing they contained marijuana. The school thought the kids had food poisoning before a member of staff discovered the tub. Thankfully, this was just a mild case.

In other cases, severe damage can occur. For example, a girl from Nova Scotia consumed 15 times the recommended limit for adults when she got her hands on a marijuana chocolate bar. An adult would know to eat one square per day, but the girl ate the entire thing. She ended up in hospital as a result.

According to law enforcement and online reports, cases of accidental consumption are increasing.

Some online reports imply that kids have ended up comatose and in severe distress from edibles. But, of course, you have to be careful what you read and what is just fear-provoking anti-weed propaganda; one thing we can all agree on, though, is that children should not have access to weed.

Don’t blame everything on legalized cannabis. A long-term study revealed a 13-fold increase in accidental cannabis intoxication in children over an 11-year period in France. Weed remains illegal in France, so it seems to be a growing problem everywhere.

Preventative Measures for the Future

So, what can you do to stop your child from accidentally consuming an edible?

Use weed legally: Make sure you only use marijuana if you live in a legal state or have an MMJ card. Regulated cannabis edibles purchased from dispensaries should be child-locked, minimizing the risk of an accidental overdose.

Keep products out of reach: This one is quite obvious, but make sure to store products out of reach. Your pot brownies will survive out of the fridge, so keep them in a locked drawer or high up where small children can’t get them.

Be honest with your children: When your kids are of a certain age, it might be time to have “the talk.” No, not the birds and the bees! Sit them down and explain to them that those gummies in your nightstand are not sweet treats but are a form of medication that they should not be using. Our kids are more intelligent than we sometimes give them credit for, and they are capable of understanding the difference between a normal gummy bear and a THC-laden one if they are told.

Talk with your babysitters: Again, consider talking to any babysitters about the situation. They could accidentally give your kids your edibles, so it’s best to be upfront about it.

Be prepared: Re-read this article and learn the steps like a mantra. You don’t want to waste time googling when the situation occurs. Also, consider writing the number for poison control on your fridge or putting it in your phone in case of emergencies.

Final Thoughts: No, You Aren’t a Bad Parent

Children have been ingesting toxic substances long before weed was legalized. That’s why most medications are child-locked!

Sadly, more and more kids are getting their hands on their parents’ edibles. However, it is a preventable situation, and if it does happen, it’s not the end of the world. Follow the steps in this guide and hand the situation over to the medical professionals, and your child will be fine. The most important thing is to stay calm.

And no, you aren’t a bad parent. Things sometimes happen, no matter how hard you try. So, don’t be hard on yourself if this situation occurs.

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