Is It Okay For Your Child To Eat Play Dough?

child playing with colored play dough

It happens almost all the time, and especially with small, curious children who are eager to put just about anything in their mouths: children eating Play-Doh. And now health experts are warning that while eating play dough might not necessarily be life threatening, it should be avoided at all times.

According to a new report by Very Well Family, even though Play-Doh goes contain wheat, it is not a food item and is not intended to be eaten. Play-Doh compound is non-toxic, non-irritating & non-allergenic except as noted: Children who are allergic to wheat gluten may have an allergic reaction to this product.

If you needed another reason to keep Play-Doh out of your child’s mouth, consider all of the toxic ingredients that are used to make the compound. A 2004 patent also reveals that it contains all of the following: a retro gradation inhibitor, mineral oil, a surfactant, preservatives, a hardener, a humectant, fragrance, coloring, a petroleum additive for a smooth feel, and borax.

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Keep in mind though that generally eating any kind of dough is not a good habit and can cause problems. However, you do not need to panic if your child has eaten just a little bit of it. Health professionals say that most likely your child will develop nothing more than a stomachache. But if you see any other signs or symptoms such as lethargy, difficulty swallowing, or vomiting, seek medical attention immediately.

child playdough
Credit: iStock / Sasiistock

Despite the warnings, experts do agree that playing with Play-Doh does help a child’s fine motor skill development. It’s a great activity for strengthening muscle tone in little hands. As a matter of fact, squishing, squashing, rolling, flattening play dough all develop children's muscles and encourage prewriting and other skills such as cutting with a scissors, using a tweezers, holding a pencil and so on. Playing with Play-Doh can also help develop critical areas of physical development for writing, drawing, and other purposes.

The non-toxic, non-staining, reusable modeling compound that came to be known as Play-Doh back in the 1950s by Kroger Grocery. Play-Doh was demonstrated at an educational convention in 1956 and prominent department stores opened retail accounts.

In 2003, the Toy Industry Association named Play-Doh in its "Century of Toys List."

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