What to do when your child swallows a coin?

Cheena M Gujral
1 to 3 years

Created by Cheena M Gujral
Updated on Oct 19, 2019

What to do when your child swallows a coin
Reviewed by Expert panel

Toddlers’ age is all about exploring and experimenting with things. The curiosity to discover prompts them to put things in the mouth. They believe in touching new things, picking them to taste and accidentally swallow it. And if that object is in the range of "vulnerable items", it causes trouble. The glares and shine of coin attracts baby well to try hands on it. Young child has undeveloped reflexes because of which she gets more prone to hazards. So what to do if your toddler accidentally swallows a coin? Will it lead to choking hazard? Is it as serious as it sounds? And how will I know whether or not my baby has swallowed something? Well before we answer all these answers let’s see what is choking and how it can put your toddler at risk.

What Is Choking?

When anything below the size of D battery happens to be swallowed by child and it induces distress, is choking. It could be blocking food way (when your child cannot gulp down food/water) or may be choked airway(a situation when child feels difficulty in breathing). It's a very common phenomenon amongst toddlers to put everything in their mouth and lending themselves into choking disaster.


How Do I Know If My Baby Swallowed Something?

Nature has its simple ways to deal with accidents when it comes to babies. I remember once my nephew inserted a coin through his nose and fortunately, it was out with his stool the next morning. But in general there are numerous symptoms that should warn you that your child has swallowed a coin.

  1. Difficulty in breathing: Slipping of coin in the windpipe hinders the passage of air to lungs. Thus making it difficult to breath
  2. Wheezing: The abnormal sounds while breathing are a signal of some foreign material inside. The choked airway brings wheezing sound
  3. Excessive drooling: If your baby is drooling excessively chances are that his or her airway is restricted thus drooling
  4. Chest pain: Swallowing of coin undoubtedly cause chest heaviness and pain. The pain may affect neck, throat or head
  5. Vomiting: In the severe case of coin swallowing the where the child is choking vomiting is the major symptom hence it is advisable to seek medical help immediately
  6. Inability to cry or make sound: If you feel that your toddler is not able to make any sound or is not crying even then it is time to visit the doctor for further investigation as to where the coin is stuck that it is restricting the sound in your baby
  7. Cannot swallow food or water: Since the coin is stuck somewhere in his or her food pipe, your toddler is unable to swallow food or water. It is advisable to rush to the doctor immediately, as the inability to swallow water can lead to dehydration which can further complicate the situation
  8. Abnormal sound of bowel movement: When the coin is stuck somewhere in the oesophagus pipe your baby’s bowel movement will have abnormal sound that needs to get checked by your paediatrician

How Long Will My Baby Take To Pass A Swallowed Coin?

According to the experts if the swallowed coin has not got stuck anywhere it should come out naturally with the stool in 2 to 5 days. Well, yes, it does take that much time to pass from mouth to throat, to stomach and finally through the stool. So you need to be vigilant and keep checking the stool. If you are sure that your toddler has swallowed a coin and it has not yet come out it is advisable to seek medical advice immediately.

How Can I Prevent Accidents Of Swallowing?

While accidents can happen in a blink your eye moment, it always pays to be vigilant and if you ensure these simple tips you can prevent swallowing of coin.

What Is The Treatment For Expelling A Coin?

The first-aid treatments for expelling a coin are as follows—

  1. Never keep the coins or pennies at baby's reach
  2. Don’t encourage them to play with currencies
  3. They can even chew the paper notes and get choked
  4. Also playing with money is not a healthy way in childhood
  5. Avoid placing coins in easily accessible places for child

    Slurping of coin by child shall never be ignored. If you are aware of inhalation, look out for any symptoms and signs as discussed above. In absence of any signs, keep looking for passing in stool. Even if that fails, it calls for assistance.

    Disclaimer: Please note that this write-up is for general information purposes and is in no way a substitute of trained medical personnel advice or treatment. If you think that your child has swallowed a coin it is recommended to take your little one to the doctor immediately.

    1. Check the airway of your child: When your toddler swallows a coin, it will pass through his or her throat and reach the stomach or else it get stuck in the airway. So first perform a thorough check of your child’s mouth. Use a flashlight if you have to but if the coin is not visible then it is possible that it is blocking the airway passage. In that case rush to the doctor immediately. But before you do try this second step and if this doesn’t work then a call to the doctor is in order.
    2. Try to displace the coin: Well yes, you can displace and retrieve the coin even if it is stuck somewhere by holding your child gently on your arm face upside down. Now give gentle pat on his or her middle back. This action will displace the coin and the child may vomit out the coin. But in case if you feel that your child is choking then rush him or her to the doctor immediately.
    3. X-ray to detect where the coin is stuck: X ray is generally done to check where the coin has stuck. The metallic nature of coin is a reason to opt for X-ray method, as it shows up easily in the images. Removal of coin depends mainly on where it has adhered. Surgeries are not a necessary solution always. Don't panic or feel helpless. Just ask your doctor for the suitable treatment.

      In addition, avoid doing these things if you think that your child is vomiting and showing signs of restlessness

      • Don't force to cough or puke, as it may worsen the case. .
      • Avoid giving laxatives which hasten the process of excretion.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Oct 04, 2017

very useful blog. thanks for sharing Cheena M Gujral ! I myself swallowed a coin as a child, still have vivid memories of that day fresh in my mind. since it was a holiday being 2nd October , my parents had a tough time, dealing with that situation.. now we all know what to do in this case as each second counts in such exigencies. thanks again !

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| Oct 04, 2017

Thank you so much mam, i was worried how deal as most of the time my baby keeps things in her mouth including coins and all. Its a great help.

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| Oct 06, 2017


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| Oct 06, 2017

uuuuhbhnnnhyyj . b c i9

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| Oct 06, 2017


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| Oct 06, 2017


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| Oct 10, 2017


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