Plastic mum fail

A lot of people are trying to cut down on disposable plastics, but we recently had a stark reminder why disposable and convenient isn’t always a good thing.

We had nipped in to a Starbucks for lunch and got a couple of cheese toasties for the adults. I was prepared (for once) and my little girl had a tub of omelette I’d made and I gave that to her, along with a bit of my cheese toastie. She was sitting on my knee munching away, and not trying to make a break for it to explore, and we were chatting and it was all very pleasant (unlike some meals out).

She picked up a plastic fork from my plate that the staff had automatically put there. She was eating her omelette with it, and we were so proud that her fork skills are getting so much more proficient. We were even taking photos because she looked so cute brandishing her fork.

Then suddenly I looked down and my heart jumped in my mouth when I saw this….

Plastic fork on table with tip of prong missing
The offending fork

The tip of one of the fork prongs was missing. I searched on the table and floor but there was no sign of it. I searched inside her mouth but there was no sign of it. With a sinking heart I realised she’d probably eaten it.

If there’s one thing I know about plastic it’s that it doesn’t break down, so I wasn’t worried about it poisoning her. I started stabbing myself gently with the fork and even though it was blunt it did kind of stick into me.

It was only a small bit but she’s only got a tiny digestive system. Immediately I started to imagine it scratching and scraping her insides, and hastily took this picture in case we needed to show it to A&E.

Before rushing to the nearest hospital we googled it and realised we’re not the first parents this has happened to. Kids swallow all sorts of things (coins seem to be the commonest). Generally the advice seems to be that they should pass harmlessly through.

We decided the best approach was to wait and see and only take her if she seemed to be in pain.

For the next few days we were on constant guard. Every time she cried we would look questioningly at each other. Was that a cry of pain, or was she just tired? Her crying was always in short bursts so we never ended up taking it may further.

I did suggest to my husband we should check her nappies to see if it had passed through, but he didn’t look entirely enthusiastic. Then when the first nappy change happened in a public toilet my resolve to search for such a small thing with nothing but my hands dissolved. By the next nappy change it seemed pointless as I’d missed one. There was certainly no sign of any obstruction!

Over time we have kind of forgotten about it. Every now and again I see a plastic fork and get a nasty reminder that there still could be a piece inside her, but she seems happy and healthy, and it could have been a lot worse.

The worst thing that makes me feel bad is when this happened I had her own bamboo spoon and fork in my bag. It wasn’t a requirement or a need to use the plastic fork. I didn’t even want it, they just handed it out. It was just a kind of indifference. I think we’ve got so used to being surrounded by plastic we think of it as harmless.

This was a harsh reminder for me that for both environmental and safety reasons we need to be more observant and say no to unnecessary plastics!

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