What This Mom Wants Parents to Know After Her Toddler Almost Choked to Death at Bath Time

Out of the Nutshell

Nothing was out of the ordinary in the moments leading up to the horrible thought that flashed through Leah Porritt's mind: "I'm going to lose her." Up until this point, Porritt could hear her little girl singing in the empty bath tub as the Maryland mom dried off her younger child across the hall. But then she heard another noise, and this mom's gut instinct went into overdrive as she realized that something was seriously wrong.


"Something did not register right in the noise. It was a noise but too quiet of a noise," Porritt wrote on her blog, Out of the Nutshell. "Loud is always a good sign with kids. Quiet is not."

Porritt explained that she's left her daughter to collect the toys after bath time "a million times before" as she gets her other child dressed. But when she went back into the bathroom this time, she found something that no parent ever wants to see. "She was hunched over in the empty tub, her arms and hands extended in panic, her head thrust forward and mouth open," she wrote. "The noise coming out her open mouth was too quiet. I grabbed her wet body and flipped her over, hitting her back. Again and again. I stuck my finger in her mouth and felt nothing. I could see the distress on her face and it confused me."

Little girl

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Porritt could tell that her daughter was choking but had no idea what was causing it, because the bath toys were too big to fit in her mouth. And it didn't matter because the girl's lips were quickly turning blue. "I'm going to lose her. I ran. I ran with my naked, wet daughter belly down on my arms," she wrote. "I ran without shoes .... I screamed and ran because I knew I needed help. I screamed and ran because I didn't know where my phone was and I needed someone to call 911. I screamed and ran because I needed someone to save my little girl."

In this state of panic, she couldn't stop thinking that her child was about to die, and this thought kept repeating itself on loop as her neighbor grabbed the limp girl in her arms. "It took one more pound on her back and the toy flew out. The toy that was not a bathtub toy," she wrote. "The toy that I didn't even know was in the bathtub. The toy that my 3 and 1/2 year old had played with dozens of times and had never once put in her mouth. The toy that somehow went in her mouth and lodged itself in her throat. The toy that almost killed her."

With that, air made its way back in the child's body and she started coughing -- which was a beautiful sound to this distressed mom. "I didn't lose her. But I could have. It could have ended so differently," she wrote. "It could have been longer before I realized what was happening. My fear could have caused my body and mind to freeze; a very possible bio-mechanical reaction."

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But instead of keeping herself from replaying the worst-case scenarios that haunt her, this mom is revisiting those terrifying moments for an important reason. "I'm writing this because I want you to feel it," she wrote. "I want you to feel the panic I felt, and I want you to do something about it."

Porritt realizes that not all folks are lucky enough to have a neighbor who knows exactly what to do in this type of emergency, or to have prepared themselves for how to save a choking child in that horrifying moment -- even if they think they do. "Not every parent has CPR and first aid training that would allow them to save their child's life .... If you babysit when you are young, you may have it. If you decide to take a parenting class for your firstborn, you may have it. And like me, those ifs may have been 8, 10, 15, 25 years ago," she wrote. "I hope you read this with a racing heart and tears in your eyes. I hope you [breathe] a sigh of relief knowing my little girl is just fine ... and then I hope you move through the rest of your day with my words nagging at the back of your thoughts."

Instead of zoning Porritt's unpleasant reminder out or letting it get lost in your busy day, this grateful mom hopes it encourages you to take action and sign up for that refresher CPR class. "I hope you never need it to use it," she wrote. "But I hope that you know how to, if you do."

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