Kids learn about the world by touching, feeling and putting things in their mouths. Ingesting foreign bodies is their way of exploring the world. Swallowing a coin seems a very common incident, and since coins are easily accessible by babies and toddlers, their shining metallic luster appeals the little eyes and as they like to taste everything, the silver metal goes straight into the mouth.
Children find everything as their potential food items and feed themselves with it. Then it may or may not be a food item. If it is small and fits into his mouth, it is definitely being tasted, and then maybe swallowed. Swallowing foreign objects like marbles, coins, mouth full’s of sand and tiny removable parts of toys are common problems for parents of a toddler. A child will happily swallow a foreign object and not even worry about it. Whereas, parents live in fear of “What to do now?”
Symptoms of Toddler Swallowing Coin
If the swallowed coin goes into the stomach, there is a huge possibility that the same will be passed through the colon and get expelled with stool. However, if the penny gets gets trapped in the passage to the stomach, it presents a risky situation and must be taken seriously. If the swallowed coin gets stuck in the esophagus, it could cause distinctive symptoms like –
- The child could drop the saliva continuously from the mouth
- Difficulty in swallowing anything
- Pain in the neck or chest
If the coin gets stuck in the intestine and tears intestinal walls a variety of symptoms might be evident like- blood in the stool due to which it could appear dark, bowel sounds that are not normal, stomach pain and vomiting. Sometimes the coin gets trapped but a child can continue to swallow and eat without any difficulty. In such a situation, the child will cough continuously. The stuck coin can cause inflammation and irritation of the esophageal tissues, which can further rupture the esophagus, causing potential dangerous situations.
How Long It Takes To Pass Swallowed Coin By Toddler?
Now you may be in a panic mode, because your child has swallowed a coin or some other foreign object. 80 to 90 % of times, a coin or a small penny will pass on its own, as it is round with soft edges, and eventually comes out with stool. The coin passes through the digestive system and is expelled within a day or two. However, it is necessary to keep a keen eye on your child. It can be an emergency situation if there are the below mentioned symptoms:
- Your child cannot speak or cry, and has trouble breathing
- He is drooling and cannot swallow
- Your child is coughing or is breathing noisily
- He loses consciousness
If your child is doing well, and does not exhibit any symptoms, then you may as well wait for the penny to pass out through the stools. Though consulting a pediatrician is recommended, do not self medicate by giving laxatives to your child to hasten the process of excretion as it may not help. Neither will forcing your child to gulp food. If you are scared, or feel helpless, the best option would be to seek the doctor’s advice.
My Child Swallowed A Penny And It Is Stuck!
If the coin has passed through the throat, into the stomach, it should pass out from the system in less than 4-5 days, and usually within 2 days. A coin that is stuck will induce stomach or chest pain, drooling, trouble swallowing, vomiting and fever. In any of these cases, take the child to the hospital as early as possible and take the doctor’s advice.
First Aid When Toddler Swallows a Penny
If there are any symptoms of a coin or a foreign object being stuck, you must not-
- Try to make the child vomit
- Give the child anything to drink or eat
You can follow the following steps if your child swallows a coin or something else that is soft, small, smooth and not poisonous:
- Make sure, you check his poop for next two to three days. This can be done by placing the poop in a strainer and spraying hot water on it. By doing this, you will be sure that the swallowed foreign object came out fine and there is no need to worry any further
- In the time period of swallowing coin it is necessary for parents to observe their child minutely
- Feed him food that is soft and fibrous. Bananas are a good option when you want to make things move along faster in your child’s system
- Make sure you feed your child plenty of water and keep him/her hydrated. A hydrated body functions well and your child will have no trouble in passing stool with the coin in it
Swallowed Coin Treatment and Removal
If the coin does not comes out even after following all the steps stated above and remains in the body for more than 48 hours, it is time to head to the hospital even if your child does not exhibit any symptoms of uneasiness. Visit your doctor and take medical help. The doctor may ask you to wait some more, and suggest some medicines for helping your child poop the coin out. Doctor will also help locate the exact position of coin in your child with the help of X-ray, and you can be certain that the object your child has swallowed is a coin only and nothing else. Though, there is no need to remove a coin with surgical methods. However, if the swallowed object is not a coin and something sharp, that can damage or puncture your child’s Gastrointestinal (GI) tract the doctor may suggest endoscopy.
Safety and Prevention Tips
Here are some precautions you must take to avoid happening of such incidents.
- Do not let your child pay with money, not even bills. One of the many reasons for not letting your child to do so is, he/she may digest you hundred-rupee bill and you will be at loss. It is also a bad habit for children to play with money because they are passed through many hands and have thousand different types of bacteria and germs on them
- Do not let your child play with tiny objects. Dolls, cars, and toys that have removable parts can be swallowed and struck in your child’s systems. The chances of things getting inhales are also high, so better be cautious
- Practice extra caution if you are taking your child somewhere outside. For instance if you take your child in a garden and he finds a big fat caterpillar crawling in grass he may feed it to himself
- It is a child’s tendency to observe things using all his/her senses. Your child will examine things with his visionary senses and may want to explore his taste buds all over it. So it is becomes even more important for parents to not leave small tiny things within your children’s reach
Please note that this article is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.