How many times have you said to your toddler, “Spit that out!”? Babies and toddlers often swallow things they shouldn’t, otherwise known as foreign bodies. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons a child is seen in the emergency room, and usually happens between the ages of 6 months and 2 years.
Pennies are often the culprit – toddlers tend to be attracted to the shiny surfaces and bright color. Other items commonly swallowed include marbles, Legos, Barbie doll parts, watch batteries and magnets. Watch batteries and magnets, in particular, can be dangerous. Batteries can leak acid and damage the inner lining of the esophagus or the stomach, if ingested. Magnets can create holes within the intestine.
Symptoms your infant or toddler has swallowed a foreign body include vomiting and refusing to take a bottle or drink. Children may or may not be irritable; it just depends on the object swallowed and the child’s temperament. Usually the diagnosis can be made with a simple x-ray. Treatment depends on what’s been swallowed and where it’s lodged within the body:
Below are a few tips to prevent your child from swallowing these items:
If you suspect your child may have eaten something inappropriate, a trip to the emergency room for an x-ray is the first step. If a foreign body is found, a specialist will be called to help.