Baby’s first wasp sting

By Liann Bobechko »Liann Bobechko

What do you do when your baby gets stung at the cottage?

July 19th, 2011


Photo by bbaunach


This cautionary tale comes from Michelle Kelly, our managing editor, Style Blogger, and a new mom.

We were on our last day of our 12-day cottage vacation. I was packing Roy’s things while Rich took him out in the Bjorn, in the facing-out position that he preferred. Soon after sitting down on a old wooden bench for a rest, Rich looked down to see a swarm of wasps around Roy’s face! He quickly brushed them away and ran inside. As soon as I heard Roy’s cries I knew he was in pain and got that horrible feeling in my chest that something was really wrong. Sure enough, I could easily see two separate stings, one on his upper lip and one low on his forehead, right between his eyes.

All my years working as a camp counsellor had me fearing that he might be allergic and have an anaphalactic reaction so without even thinking about it we packed him in the car, stopping only to get a bag of ice from the freezer. The closest hospital was a 30-minute drive from our cottage and I hoped that, if he was allergic, the ice could at least slow down the reaction and reduce the swelling, particularly around his mouth. I was most afraid that his tongue would swell up and block his airway so had my finger in his mouth for much of the ride trying to make sure he could breathe. The sting on his forehead didn’t seem as bad as the one on his lip, which was swollen to the size of a walnut.

We made it to the hospital in about 20 minutes and I can easily say that it was the scariest thing I’d ever experienced. They saw him right away, hooking him up to monitors to get his pulse rate, blood pressure, etc. I kept saying—once it was clear that Roy would be okay—that they should be taking my blood pressure too! By this point I was fairly certain that he wasn’t allergic, and thank God for that. The doctor gave him some Benadryl and told me to keep icing it, and that did the trick. After a few hours his swelling was mostly gone and he was his happy self again.

I had heard that reactions to bee stings tend to get worse each time but the doctor said that there was no way of knowing for sure. Either way, we’ll always be vigilant about keeping him away from bees, of course! And we will ALWAYS have Benadryl with us, especially at the cottage. If he were ever to be stung again, or even if he were to get a deer fly or horse fly bite, it would definitely come in handy. The nurse at the hospital told us that every cottager should have some in the medicine cabinet. I also learned that you should ice ice ice these bites; it really does help keep the swelling down.

(As an aside, here’s amazing trick for making an ice pack: Soak a diaper in water and stick it in the freezer. It works beautifully as an ice pack because it remains flexible and can go around your knee, for example, instead of just sit on top of it—and since diapers wick the moisture away from your skin, you can apply it directly to the affected area without that uncomfortable icy feeling.)

Thanks for sharing your harrowing experience, Michelle. Since getting your note I am the proud new owner of a bottle of Benadryl.


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Jul. 28, 2011

8:35 pm

Benadryl is always in my suitcase when we travel. Good tip about the frozen diaper!


Jul. 19, 2011

3:54 pm

Poor little Roy. Glad things worked out ok. My daughter was stung three or four times in one week the summer she was 9. Other than swelling, she too made out just fine. But, we've always wondered if she was ever stung again, what would happen? She's 30 now and we still don't know, but we've always got Benedryl at camp too.

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