a peek inside the fishbowl

18 Jan, 2007

An important PPSA (Parental Public Service Announcement) brought to you by yours truly

Posted by andrea tomkins in: parenting

In prenatal classes, many moons ago, there was a discussion about why babies cry. There are the obvious reasons: hunger, thirst, diaper, fatigue and/or pain. It is up to the parent to find out why the kid is crying and resolve the issue. What freaked me out at the time was the litany of things that could possibly be making our child cry: the mattress might be too cold, or too warm, the room might be too cold, or too warm, the kid might be swaddled too tight or too loose, the room might be too dark or too light … you get the picture.

A lot of this can be chalked up to the temperament of the particular child. Some kids don’t care about the cold mattress, others do. So if you’ve made yourself one of the sensitive kinds you might as well buy some ear plugs and get used to wearing them.

I remember wondering if babies ever get itchy. And if they’re itchy, do they cry? How are we supposed to know that this flailing body is itchy and needs to be scratched?

I also remember someone telling me about her infant daughter, who was crying and crying and the mother could not figure out why she was so upset. The baby wasn’t hungry, or tired, or in need of a fresh diaper. Mom racked her brain and double and triple checked the diaper and tried to feed her and then tried to burp her and then tried to put her down. Nothing worked. It wasn’t until much later that she discovered some tiny threads from the baby sweater had gotten tangled around her fingers. She snipped them off (the threads, not the fingers) and peace was immediately restored to the household.

Emma woke up yesterday with sore toes.

Sore toes? I thought perhaps her foot was asleep, but she assured me that it wasn’t a pins and needles kind of feeling. I couldn’t quickly look at her toes because she was wearing tights under jeans and it would have meant that she had to get undressed right before she had to leave for school. Toe pain is way past my maternal diagnostic skills. I asked her to finish eating her breakfast and get ready for school. “It’ll probably go away,” I suggested. And then I promptly forgot about it.

Most things do go away, and that’s why I was surprised to learn that her toes were still hurting after school. In fact, she was grimacing and practically limping. I asked her to take everything off. I had to look. Upon closer inspection I saw a slice across the top of her two middle toes, right where they connect with the foot itself.

“Did you hit your foot on something?”
“Did something fall on your foot?”
“Did you cut across it with scissors or a knife?” I couldn’t believe I was asking if she’d cut her own toes because it’s so out of character for her to do something like that.

It was obviously hurting because she would hardly let me touch it. I looked a little closer. There was no blood. I suddenly wasn’t so sure it was a cut. I turned her foot around in my hand. She grimaced. I poked at it a little. (“OW! MOMMMY!”) And that’s when I noticed it. It was a HAIR. A hair had figure-eight wrapped itself around her toes. TIGHT. In fact, it was so tight it was cutting off circulation and had made a deepish cut-like indent in her skin. I broke the hair, had her wash her feet in the tub and all was well. My baby could walk again.

My god. I hope you parents out there have learned something today. Because I sure have.

8 Responses to "An important PPSA (Parental Public Service Announcement) brought to you by yours truly"

1 | Marla

January 18th, 2007 at 10:07 am


This happened with Josie one day – one of my hairs wrapped around a finger.

But nothing compares to the entire day we spent listening to “my bum hurts” – and found a stray kernel of corn in her cooch when we finall took her to the walk-in clinic.

2 | Sharon

January 18th, 2007 at 10:10 am


Ok this makes me feel guiltly I sent Nathan off tos chool when he didn’t want to go he kept saying he was feeling sick but he wasn’t acting sick. He was up on time and happy and full of energy,. Maybe he is sick? I’m sure they will call me if there is a problem.

Mom guilt at it’s finest.

3 | Kelly

January 18th, 2007 at 10:13 am


One morning my four year old daughter wouldn’t get out of bed because she said it hurt to move, my husband and I really didn’t take her seriously and thought she was just trying to get a few more minutes of sleep as we of course all like to do. After a few minutes I finally went into her room, she told me her toes hurt. I looked at her toes and her big toe was bright red, a plastic thread from her comforter had become wrapped around her toe and was cutting off her circulation. Ouch. After I cut off the thread she was fine, now I listen when she says she says something hurts.

4 | twinmomplusone

January 18th, 2007 at 2:32 pm


oh poor sweetie, glad she’s better and thanks for sharing

when my baby girl was a little older than one, we took her to the mall for a “walk”. she cried and complained the whole time, one to two hours at least. She had been the colicky baby so we tended to pay less attention to her “whining”

when we finally went home and removed her shoes (and she always gave us a hard time putting them on) we realized that her little toe had been bent backward, ouch, the whole time

oh the mother guilt after that one :(

5 | Chantal

January 18th, 2007 at 6:33 pm


That happened to Erin, now 8 (and I think I just mentioned it recently to someone!). When she was 4 or 5 months old and I went out to a movie she would not settle down. John was freaking out. The next morning (!!) we realized a hair had wrapped around her toe. It was so bad by then she needed antibiotics by IV for a cellulose infection. :(

6 | How to clean the bathroom floor « Javaline

October 22nd, 2008 at 2:49 pm


[…] 22, 2008 by javamom Once upon a time I read this post and it freaked me out. And every since then, I’ve been constantly checking floors for hair. […]


April 30th, 2009 at 12:45 pm



8 | Lilibet

December 7th, 2010 at 6:07 pm


Apparently, this is common and even has a name: a hair tourniquet! I first read about it on a new moms group; babies are especially prone to this. One baby even lost a toe! It can cut off circulation and they can’t tell you. One more thing to watch for (sigh).

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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