What should I do if my child swallows a small toy?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
What to do depends on what your child swallowed. If they swallowed a small plastic toy and do not seem to be at all bothered by it, you can first call your pediatrician and ask if they'd rather you make an appointment with them or go to the emergency room. However, if your child swallowed anything sharp, potentially harmful (like liquids), batteries, or magnets, then you should take them to the ER. In addition, if your child has any symptoms of choking or difficulty breathing or swallowing, then you should go to the ER. Often, children also stick things into their nose or ears, and you can use the same rule -- if they're not bothered by it (and it was something non-sharp like a crayon or food), then you can call your pediatrician first. When in doubt (especially if it's something like a bead in their nose that they could potentially inhale), or if you cannot reach your pediatrician, go to the ER to have it removed.  
The number one thing is safety -- make sure your child playing with toys that are appropriate for his age in order to reduce the risk of this happening. However, if this does happen, it depends on the toy and your child's symptoms. If your child is coughing, drooling or having difficulty breathing, take the child immediately to the ER. If the child does not have symptoms and swallowed something that won't break down in his system and does not have sharp edges, you may be able to just watch your child until he passes the toy out in his stool, hopefully in 24 hours. If it is a battery or any toy that is sharp, a visit to your primary doctor is a good idea. And if you have any questions, ask your doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.