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What To Do If Your Child Swallows A Coin

What To Do If Your Child Swallows A Coin

What To Do If Your Child Swallows A Coin

Life is full of discovery for our little ones! They are constantly developing new connections and learning through their senses while exploring the environment around them. Their environment however is your home and preparing your home to be the ideal place for your child to take on life’s adventures, while simultaneously rendering it as a safe environment is by no means an easy feat.

Children, especially those 5 years or under in age, are the most active when it comes to placing items in their mouths that don’t belong there. Putting something in their mouth is as natural to a child as touching or sniffing something and part of it is simply not knowing what can be ingested and what cannot. It’s estimated 20% of children aged between 1 and 3 years old will swallow a nonfood item.

You can baby-proof all your home, install every baby gate or safety barrier you can find and fit them throughout your home, but you guarantee those tiny, curious little fingers will still manage to find something of interest to put into their mouths. 


According to researchers from the from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, they found that 75% of ingestions were in children under 5 years old, and children under 1 made up 21% of this number. They also found the most common objects swallowed were:

  • Coins (61.7%), with pennies being the most common. Quarters were the second most common, and since they are bigger, children who swallowed them were more likely to be hospitalized.
  • Toys or pieces of toys (10.3%). Marbles were the most common culprit.
  • Jewelry (7.0%). This was naturally more common in girls than boys.
  • Batteries (6.8%), with button batteries being most common.
  • Nails, screws, tacks, or bolts (6.0%).

Other common objects included hair products, kitchen gadgets, desk supplies, and Christmas decorations. 


If your child has swallowed any foreign object, or you suspect they may have, urgently check for symptoms that arise. Obvious and immediate reactions include coughing, choking, vomiting, gagging, difficulty breathing, and throat or chest pain. If your child shows any of these symptoms pat them firmly on the back, perform the Heimlich maneuver, or if you notice a change in their color Call 911 immediately and start performing CPR until emergency services arrive.

An issue with babies and small children is you may not know they’ve ingested anything until later. Keep an eye out for serious symptoms that can be caused by a deeply lodged items including abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, and drooling. Promptly notify your doctor if any of these symptoms surfaces for your child. If the item is small enough and harmless to your toddler, it is best to be patient and allow the item to pass naturally. 


In the unlikely event that your child swallows a coin, magnet, or battery you should call your child’s doctor and bring them to the emergency room immediately.

If a battery is swallowed by your toddler, they could experience severe damage within just two hours. Batteries have the potential of burning through the stomach lining if they are not removed or safely passed in a timely manner. Look out for signs of nausea, vomiting, and or fever.

A coin that is swallowed may become logged in the intestinal tract and cause bleeding. To be certain your toddler swallowed a coin, check their stools for dark coloring. This indicates blood coming from deep within the lining of your child’s intestines. If your child swallowed a foreign object and it remains in their system for an extensive amount of time, there is a risk for infection to your child’s digestive system.

If this is a suspicion, look out for signs of wheezing, a fever, and/ or coughing up phlegm. In this instance, call your child’s pediatrician and bring them to the emergency room immediately.

Another, just as dangerous item is a magnet. Swallowing a magnet could cause major disruption in your child’s GI tract. All pennies forged before 1982 contain corrosive Zinc which could potentially cause severe damage to the esophagus. In the case that any of these hazardous items are swallowed by your child promptly call your local medical emergency line.


For any level of severity in symptoms shown by your child swallowing a coin or foreign object, treatment should always proceed once the child’s physician has been notified. NEVER induce vomiting yourself. If the item swallowed is not fatally detrimental to your child, it is safe to allow the item to pass naturally. Give your child meals during their normal eating schedule and keep them sufficiently hydrated.

Studies have shown that approximately 80 percent of the time the item will be out within 4-6 days. Rare cases have shown that the object could take as long as 4 weeks to pass through the system in a safe manner. In any case, this process should be closely monitored by a trained physician to avoid any fatal complications from occurring.

If the situation is severe enough to bring your child into the ER, they will likely take an x-ray of your child or perform an endoscopy. Once these procedures are complete, the doctor will move forward with a treatment that will best remove the object as safely as possible. Keep in mind that the most necessary treatment to remove a swallowed foreign object may be major or minor surgery. 


Precaution is the most effective way to ensure your child’s safety. By installing appropriate baby barriers or safety gates, you are protecting them from the temptation of picking up any objects or items that don’t belong near a little one’s mouth. Creating a safe environment for your child will help them to become more confident in exploring their surroundings without hazards present. To be prepared with the best child safety at home, view Perma Child Safety’s range of baby safety gates here.  

We hope these helpful toddler safety and childproofing tips can provide you a safe course of action in the event of a swallowing incident and ensure the best outcome for your family in a stressful and upsetting time. Primarily, prevention is the most important mindset for the well-being and safety of your family.