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Foreign Body Ingestion in Children


A foreign body is an object your child swallowed. Coins, button batteries, small toys, and screws are commonly swallowed objects. A foreign body can cause problems as it moves through your child's digestive system. Foreign body ingestion is most common in children ages 6 months to 3 years. This is because babies and toddlers learn by putting objects in their mouths.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has severe abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Your child's vomit or saliva is bloody.
  • Your child's bowel movements are black or bloody.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • You do not find the object in your child's bowel movement within 2 or 3 days.
  • Your child does not want to eat because of abdominal pain or vomiting.
  • Your child is drooling or hoarse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Prevent another foreign body ingestion:

  • Cut your child's food into small pieces. Remind him to chew his food well before he swallows. Do not give your child hard foods, such as nuts or hard candy. Do not allow your child to run with food in his mouth.
  • Keep small objects out of your child's reach. Some examples include magnets, jewelry, keys, and coins. Handheld video games, flashlights, hearing aids, and cameras may have button batteries. Button batteries and magnets must be removed if swallowed.
  • Teach older children to keep small toys away from babies and toddlers. Marbles are especially easy for babies to swallow.
  • Keep nails and screws away from children. Count them before and after you finish a project.
  • Keep medicines in childproof containers. Do this in your home and also in any purse or bag where you keep extra medicine. All medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements need to be kept in childproof containers.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Foreign Body Ingestion in Children (Aftercare Instructions)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.