A cup of coffee burnt the skin off my baby’s arm.

Right so I will just start this by saying it is not a pretty post.. Its actually a pretty terrible one. If you do not want to see pictures of what Violets arm looked like when it was burnt then do not read on, the pics are also not great because they are just cell phone snaps. I do however think that every parent should read this because I really have learnt so much from all of this over the last few weeks. I struggled with the title of this post, what to call such an accident.. I settled with the coffee one because I want people to know the dangers of the one thing us mothers tend to cling to daily… OUR COFFEE!

It has been exactly a month since Violets burn accident and I am sure you have all noticed that I have not really been around much this last month. I just got such a shock and a fright that it half cleared my mind of all the noise in life and put into perspective that we take things so for granted with our precious children.

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On Sunday the 12th November we were camping and enjoying our morning outdoors. The above picture was taken an hour before Violet got burnt. I had dressed her in her costume and was going to take her for a swim after breakfast, my husband wanted coffee so we put the kettle on to boil on a friends gas stove.

You know how they say accidents happen fast, well they really do. I have also noticed that it is called an accident because it is just that.. an accident. It didn’t matter that there were 7 people around all keeping an eye on the kids playing, it did not matter that I am the typical helicopter mom that hovers and hawk eyes at her kids all day. It still happend right under our noses.

My husband does not drink milk in his coffee so I made him coffee with the water that had just boiled on the gas stove and I went and put his cup down on the table right in front of him, Violet had been sitting on his lap and he put her down so he could have his coffee. I do not know how it happened, I did not see cause I had turned to walk back to make myself coffee. But next thing I know Violet was screaming and a switch in my brain clicked and I knew she had burnt.

burn with boiling water

She must have reached up and pulled on the cup with her little hand… the same cup she was playing in the sand with the day before, how could she have known. At the time she was wearing a pull over hoodie and her swimming costume, the boiling coffee burnt her through all the clothes and when I ran to pull her hoodie off… Her skin came off with it. I panicked, I did.. I started shaking while my husband ran to put cool water on her arm, this just made more skin fall off her arm.

There was no first aid kit… none, not even at the camping grounds reception office, no burn shield anywhere to be found. So we jumped in the car and rushed to hospital.

The longest longest 15min drive I have ever had, The sound of her screaming was heartbreaking and she was going wild trying to wave her arms around, I had to pin her down with my arms and legs to hold her burnt arm up and away from her because the more she moved, the more the skin was just melting off.

A piece of my heart broke off this day, and I am still trying to get back to normal. Thank god I am still breastfeeding her because it provided a huge source of comfort for her!!! A few days before it had happened, I had posted to the Le Leche league Facebook page saying that I was busy weaning her.

The Hospital was very helpful when we arrived and got a burn dressing on quickly, so big thanx to the Bayview hospital in Mosselbay, I am beyond glad we rushed there instead of driving back to George.

The next day we had to take her to our local Medi-clinic in George. This was hands down the MOST traumatic day of my life! Never have I ever been so traumatized, confused, unsure, shocked and left with no words as I was this day. The burn shield from the day before was completely dried out and stuck to her burnt flesh and the nurse was pulling at it as Violet screamed in a way I have never heard before, it took me and my husband to hold our poor baby down and my husband eventually had to ask the nurse to first wet the burn shield and get it to come loose because it was causing excruciating pain for Violet. A Dr came about 15min into all of this and then suggested they give her some drops for the pain. This did not seem to help much so we continued to hold her down while she screamed through them taking the burn shield off, cleaning the burn and removing the remainder of the burnt skin from the area and re dressing it. I never went back to the medi-clinic… the below pics were taken that day at the medi-clinic (Day after burn)

The Tuesday morning we got up traumatized, with no sleep and a crying baby that was clearly in pain when I noticed that the bandages that were put on the day before had obviously slipped down and or not applied correctly and now she was bleeding through the top of the dressing and the dry bandage was again stuck to her burn wound. I could not face going back to the Medi-clinic, maybe they do things like that all the time and that is normal, but I needed to find someone that would be more caring and gentle with a baby. So after a follower of mine suggested to me I try the Wound Clinic, that is where we went.

Much better, Loving Caring help!

What followed was a almost every day trip back to the wound specialist to clean, check and re dress the burns. It is traumatic, it really is. She screamed and cried every day when we took those bandages off, to a point where she started crying when just seeing the nurse and new bandaged. She knew the pain that was coming. This whole experience sucked horribly.

Pic below is day 3 after burn.

Baby burnt with boiling water


But her arm healed… in the last few weeks her skin has grown back, it was not easy, but we made it through. I have to send a special shout out to Robyn from Hand Consult SA. Robyn Inboxed me on Facebook and helped me get in touch with the correct and most helpful Dr in George to help check the damage and predict the best option to minimize the scar. It is truly a horrible feeling not knowing where to turn, which option to take and who to contact. We knew nothing about burns and having Robyn to help me was a blessing! Robyn is JHB based so If you are in that area and end up in a situation like this then get in contact with them.

Pic below is 5 days after burn..

what to do when your child gets burnt

Next pic was at 15 days after burnt..

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We are now a month in after the burn accident. shes better, I am slightly better. We are now working on the after care and managing it so that hopefully she wont have too much of a scar left.

Big and special thanx to Klara from MYHRU! You guys have seen me posting about MYHRU before, it is a 100% natural intensive oil serum that is made for skincare, I use it on my face and it works wonders. Klara was kind enough to meet with me and gift Violet a bottle of MYHRU to aid in healing her skin. We have been applying a small amount to her arm daily and it has already made an incredible difference.

Pic below before we started using the MYHRU , 20 days after burn happened.

child burnt badly with boiling water

burns on a child

And then here is today’s picture, she is looking much and is feeling well! She is still a bit grumpy and has taken a lot more to breastfeeding and cuddling and is a bit clingy. But otherwise we are good. Her arm is looking much better and is already less visible. I have faith that this will soon all just disappear.

burnt skin on babys arm

We got lucky!!!!! SO SO lucky. I do not know how, but we did. How did my little girl pull coffee off a high table and manage to just get it on her arm… not her face, not her head, not her body.. just the arm. It is terrible, but it could have been a million times worse, this thought keeps me up at night and gives me anxiety attacks with images of a small burnt face flashing thought my head. I am broken inside, I am scared and paranoid.

Here is my advice to all parents, you can definitely watch your kids around hot water and coffee but accidents are accidents so there is no point in beating yourself up about it when it happens.

ALWAYS keep a burn shield around! or even a full on medical kit if you can. But seriously go buy some burn shield, it is not expensive. Keep it in the house, garage, car, caravan, tent, kitchen. If we had had that with us, it would have been a whole lot less painful and traumatic for her as well as us.

I think burns are one of the worse things that can happen, they are complicated and cause severe damage and pain.

rare diseases south africa

More Thank You’s go out to The Rare Bear Project and Rare diseases South African for the support and adorable Rare Bear that they sent to Violet! It really did put a smile on her face! You can choose to donate a Bear for only R120 or even buy one for yourself for R150! They are beyond cute and really very well made! (Pssst they make Unicorns 😍)
The Bears are given to little patients through the Rare Diseases society of SA, so that the little ones can have a friend with them on their survival journey. I think this is too sweet and I will definitely be donating a Bear to make a little person smile! R120 well spent on doing a good deed! I wonder how many of you will be able to donate one 😊

Last Thanx goes out to LG South African and their lovely PR contact for the cutest little get well soon gift ever! Working with people and brands like this really gives me faith to carry on in this industry and keep doing what I do. I truly appreciate it!

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  1. Ronnae Elliott says:

    Thank you for sharing. Glad Violet is doing well.

  2. Janel Sunderlall says:

    I am so glad to hear that Violet is doing better love that this article is honest.

  3. Aw man. Poor baby :( Burns are the WORST because its virtually impossible to take the pain away!

  4. Chastin Dreyer says:

    I am so glad she is ok these things happen so incredibly fast, my eldest severed his finger in our front door when it slammed shut it was the most traumatic experience of my life and I had nightmares for months the pain, the tears it still makes me sick thinking about it! Every parent needs to be aware that anything can happen at any time and to be prepared, hugs to sweet Violet her arm is healing beautifully

  5. I am so sorry Melissa, for you and your little girl. What an awful experience. I have had one big time scare which turned out fine for all involved. I put my cup of coffee on the counter and even pushed it very far back and my 14 month old son quick as can be grabbed it and it spilled onto his head. I freaked out and it was a very scary few moments. Thankfully the coffee machine my hubby bought me as a gift that Xmas does not make hot coffee, it is lukewarm at best so the coffee did not burn him. Looking at your girl’s arm makes me grateful as can be that we were let off so lightly.

    You are so right these things happen so darn fast and the damage is done. Her arm looks like it is recovering really well, you are all so fortunate.

    Thanks for sharing this post.

  6. Precious Violet, so glad to see that your arm is healing beautifully.

  7. stephanie videira says:

    Oh poor baby, what a horrific experience for you all, gosh it can happen so quickly, glad shes healing and strong’s to you xxx

  8. Khadija Fakir says:

    Thank You for sharing your story. Wishing both of you a complete recovery. Xx

  9. Khadija Fakir says:

    Thank You for being brave and sharing your story. Wishing both of you a complete recovery. Xx

  10. So glad to hear she has healed so well!

  11. Letesha Korasie says:

    Oh wow, tears. I can only imagine. I have no idea what u might have gone through but I can only imagine. My heart just broke for your part.
    Accidents happens so so fast.
    Strong’s, people can be very judgmental but wow. Enjoy your little one. Hugs xoxo

  12. Oh my heart goes out to you mama. These things really do happen so quickly, no matter how careful we try to be. I got burnt as a young child, at a friends house, after running straight into her mom, who was just taking a pot of hot soup off the stove. My face was burnt. But luckily recovered well and healed beautifully. Hope for the same for your little Violet. x

  13. We had the same thing. You learn to have A LOT of grace for others. Our girl burnt her arm and breast with hot tea and we are now 1.5 yrs post burn, she is still wearing pressure garments. The worst part is the itching that comes when it heals. Thinking of you, Mommy. Its só hard seeing them going through this

  14. Matthea Basson says:

    Hi-tears are running down my cheeks nowI can relate to this, as my son, now 36 years of age, went much through the same as your child on the age of 8months old. He pulled the kettle off. He was burnt on the side of his face, his cheek, neck and the whole of his left arm and hand. I just started teaching again. It was actually nobodies fault-just a bad accident. We stayed 15 km from the State hospital -only and nearest-my neighbours took him there immediately. I can write a book about the whole episode, hospital treatment and recovery. He had no voice for a few days as for the terrible crying and screaming of pain. And they then did nit always administer painmeds while cleaning wounds. Was a very bad time in our lives-suffering from burns is now joke. He also devolped lunginfections of the highfever and coolingdown prosesses and had to go for regular fisio to every day. He was like an afraid little bokkie. He would not eat or drink. Today he is a docter himself. In those days there werent burnshield or any of the magic ointments. He has developed ugly burnmarks on his upper arm and around his elbow, and a marks in his neck. The other parts recovered very well. They specialist decided not to do skingrafts as they thought it was not so bad, but in the end it took very long to heal. They saud we should wait until he is about 17 before we do anything about it, but the drs at Tygerberg said that it would make marks again. He has grown into it or acustomed to it, he never really worries about it, can make a joke sometimes and tell his children and the nurses working with him, that his mother threw him with hot water Glad to see your little one recovered so good. Though the trauma is still a very bad episode and it takes time for them and the parent(s) to get over it. Yes, accudents do happen very quickly and easily-sometimes we can avoid them and sometimes not. Today I am the priveliged grandmother of 6 grandchildren and watching them every day playing and gtowing up and also get hurt-you can just pray for their safety every day

    1. Matthea Basson says:

      Sorry for all the spelling-mistakes! Matthea

  15. Rina Warren says:

    Accidents do happen so quickly. My little one was in someone elses arms while I made tea. She was standing next to me. As I poured the boiled water into the cup, little one flopped over and grabbed the tea bag out of the cup. Luckily just the fingers got burnt and my neighbor had burnshield. But I felt like the worst mommy in the world. I’m so glad your girl recovered nicely.

  16. Fatima Hansa says:

    Sorry you had to go through all that trauma with your baba! It really is heartbreaking when our little ones get hurt. She has healed so well! Good call on the wound clinic!

  17. My head is spinning at the thought of my baby and I going through what you and Violet did. I am so sorry that you went through this. I can’t actually fathom the changing of her dressings everyday. I hope that you have a space or way to deal with that trauma. Xxx

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