What items are harmful if swallowed?
Most nonfood items swallowed by children are coins. Smaller coins (Dimes and Pennies) usually pass though the body easily. Larger coins (and sometimes the smaller ones) can get hung up at a narrow segment of the esophagus.  Dangerous objects are pointed ones such as nails and toothpicks. Swallowed glass, on the other hand, usually passes through the body harmlessly. Button (or disk) batteries are dangerous because they contain acid or alkali, which can erode the lining of the intestines

How can I take care of my child?

Check if eating causes symptoms
If your child does not have any symptoms (trouble swallowing or pain in the throat), give your child some water to drink. If this doesn’t cause any symptoms, your child should eat some bread or other soft, solid, carbohydrate food. If this goes smoothly, the object is probably in the stomach. Swallowed foreign bodies almost always make it to the stomach, travel through the intestines, and are passed in a normal bowel movement in 3-4 days. There is nothing you can do to hurry it along.foreignbody1

Check bowel movements
Normally bowel movements do not need to be checked for small, smooth objects. However, when the object is sharp, long (more than 1 inch), or valuable, collect your child’s bowel movements in a diaper or newspaper. Cut the bowel movement up with a knife or strain them through a piece of screen until the object is found.

When should I call my child’s Healthcare provider?


  • Your child is choking or having trouble breathing. (Call 911.)
  • Your think your child has swallowed a foreign body.

If you’ve already talked with your healthcare provider AND any of the following occur, call again:

  • The stools are being checked AND the foreign body hasn’t passed in 7 days.
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting, or bloody stool develops in the next 2 weeks.
  • You have other questions or concerns.