Monday, September 5, 2011

Don't Freak Out if Your Baby Eats One Lily of the Valley Berry

Yesterday, I went on a walk with my wife and two kids (4 yo daughter, 1 yo son). On our way back home, my daughter picked a reddish-orange berry off what was likely a lily of the valley plant (we have a ton of them in Natick). My daughter loves picking berries. She does it almost every time we go on a walk. So, when we got home, my wife and I didn't think to be worried about the fact that she'd probably bring it home and leave it on the table in the playroom. Normally, that wouldn't be a problem since as of one week ago, our son wouldn't be able to reach such a berry. But, beginning about a week ago, our son has started pulling himself up. And, he loves exploring new sights and chewing on anything he can get in his mouth. So, the inevitable happened. One of us heard him coughing and came to check him out. Suspiciously, he wouldn't open his mouth. Normally, he lets us see inside with little prodding. We knew something was up. Then, we remembered---the berry!

After we stuck him in a high chair to keep him still, one of us managed to get a finger in his mouth and swipe out the skin and seed of a reddish-orange berry. My wife suspected Lily of the Valley (LotV) and recalled that the berries are toxic. I confirmed online that LotV has such a berry. I called the national poison control emergency line. They recommended going to the emergency room, but recommended that I talk to my local poison control first. The Massachusetts poison control told me not to worry---the berries are technically toxic, but one berry is not a problem for (even) a one year old child. She said we only need to worry if he starts acting strange---lethargic, nauseus, vomiting. Phew! We both heaved a sigh of relief. My wife didn't completely believe poison control and called our doctor. He said we did the right thing and, yes, we should believe poison control---there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Note: When I called the 800-222-1222 number Sunday afternoon, I was transferred to the national center. They gave me the following local numbers, one of which connected me to the local poison control: 800-682-9211, 617-232-2120, 617-355-6607.


  1. Thanks for your story - my 1-year old did exactly the same thing and I couldn't find information on symptom onset in infants on the internet. It is a big relief to hear of your experience.

  2. THANKS FOR THIS! We just had a very similar experience - and poison control said the same thing. I didn't exactly believe them either but this was very reassuring!