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Foreign Object

Here's what you should know

Children love to put objects in places they don't belong. Common examples we see are beads or chickpeas in noses or ears as well as swallowed money (kiddos never remember that they're not piggy banks!). Thankfully, we have a few clever ways of getting these objects out.

Home care tips

  • If your child has a foreign object in their nose, one trick you can try is the Kiss technique.

  • For foreign objects in your child's ear, running water into their ear from the shower while gently tugging up and back on the top part of their ear can help remove foreign objects.

When to contact a medical professional

Most of the time an emergency visit isn't necessary but if your child fits any of the criteria below you should take them to an emergency room.

  • Any swallowed battery (especially button batteries)

  • Any swallowed magnet unless you're positive it was only one magnet

  • Concern for foreign object in the airway or lungs which will usually lead to sudden onset of coughing, wheezing, or trouble breathing.

  • If you're worried your child swallowed something, a same day provider's visit is usually a good idea. An x-ray to verify the position of the object can help you better understand what to watch for and when to seek further care. Most swallowed objects don't cause a problem unless it's one of the "red flag" objects we mentioned above.
  • Signs a swallowed object may be causing a problem are worsening stomach pain or vomiting (that's not being caused by an illness).
Note: If your child is not breathing or is turning blue, start first aid if you know how and call 911!


This illness guide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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If you think your child may have a life threatening emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

Not sure what's going on with your little one?