Foreign Objects in the Mouth, Nose, and Ears of a Child

When it comes to the wellbeing of our little ones, peculiar behaviors often raise alarm bells. Among these, your child may be found inserting foreign objects in the mouth, nose, and ears, displaying an odd fascination for places where toys and food don’t belong. Such actions can include anything from consuming inappropriate items to the simple act of putting objects up their nose. Understanding the boundaries between curious exploration and potential hazards can be a challenge. So, when does this behavior necessitate a trip to the emergency room?

You undoubtedly had visions of cuddling up to your child before bed, laughing together in the tub, and making goo-goo faces as you carried the stroller around town when you daydreamed about being a parent. Not so much, though, checking to see if the coins they swallowed made it out the other end. However, odd events of this nature do occur frequently.

Joseph Wright, M.D., a professor of pediatrics, emergency medicine, and health policy in Washington, D.C., explains that young children are continuously enquiring. They are curious about their body and everything around them, so they are free to investigate anything they can get their hands on.

Most of the time, these odd situations are resolved perfectly, leaving you with little more than a humorous anecdote to humiliate your child when they are older. However, there may occasionally be significant repercussions. For that reason, we wrote this guide to unusual baby emergencies involving foreign items. Enjoy a good laugh (all of our stories ended happily), but keep in mind our advice so you’ll know what to do if something similar occurs to you.

Swallowing Unsuitable Material

Although it is common knowledge that babies and toddlers like learning and calming themselves by putting objects in their mouths, some of the things youngsters swallow can even astound professionals. Leslie Mihalov, M.D., a former emergency department head at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, recalls seeing a child’s digestive tract filled with around 30 little marbles, which is sometimes used to adorn flower vases.

Is It Ever Dangerous?

Naturally, the obstruction of the airway by the object poses the greatest immediate threat. Furthermore, if it is lodged in the esophagus, it may irritate the lining or squeeze the nearby trachea. Whatever your toddler swallows will often eventually pass through their system. As soon as it enters the intestines, Dr. Wright predicts that it will likely just pass through.

Some objects give doctors extra cause for concern: The speedy erosiveness of button batteries can injure the digestive tract’s lining. Sharp objects can cause lacerations. If your child ingests multiple magnets, the intestines may twist or kink, which could result in a blockage.

Overeating anything that isn’t intended for chomping, like sand or loose carpet threads, can have adverse effects. A little child who consumed so much sand that it solidified into a ball and became lodged in his stomach was reportedly treated by Jim Schmidt, M.D. Not quite a day at the beach, though!

What to Do in This Situation

As long as you haven’t noticed any symptoms and your infant hasn’t ingested a battery, magnet, or anything else sharp, Dr. Mihalov advises waiting a day or two for the object to pass. (If you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, you should seek medical attention immediately.)

Having said that, take them to the ER right away if they begin to drool excessively, choke, vomit, or experience abdominal pain. They’ll probably require an X-ray to determine if the offender is stuck in their digestive tract if it doesn’t come out in their diaper.

Keeping Babies Safe from Accidents

You never know what a child might discover to stick somewhere, so it’s crucial to always be on the watch. If your infant has a habit of sucking on non-edibles, keep anything that could fit through a toilet paper tube out of their reach and consider giving them a pacifier. Check the couch at night, and take out any small items that may be lodged in the cushions. Generally, baby-free areas like your home office should be childproofed (staples for snacks, anyone?). And just in case, enroll in a baby CPR course (or study our first aid instructions below as a refresher).

Hurting Their Noses

Amanda Green, of Oran, Missouri, recalls with great clarity the moment Makinzy, then 18 months old, started storing things in her nasal passages. “Parts of the Halloween decorations were first used. We believed we had kept her sister’s beads out of reach, but she then started nibbling on them. Her nose appeared larger on one side so that we could tell.” According to Green, they visited the emergency room four times in one week to have the beads taken out. “In order to prevent her from wriggling, the physicians wrapped her in a blanket before removing the objects with tiny forceps. They once took out three beads. They overlooked one, and I didn’t know until we got home!”

Is It Ever Dangerous?

Choking is a small possibility, but infection is the main worry. According to Dr. Schmidt, a foreign object buried deep inside the nostrils may impede nasal secretions, accumulating bacteria in the nostrils. There is a good possibility that something is going on in your child’s nose if they just have a runny nose coming from one nostril, potentially with a strong odor.

What to Do in This Situation

You can try to remove the item with flat-tipped tweezers if your kid cooperates, and you can see what is hidden in their nostril. Just be mindful to stop pushing it into the nose farther. You might need to use a bulb syringe to remove some items, especially food items like bread or beans because they can expand when damp. Hopeless? Contact your physician or go to the emergency department.

Keeping Babies Safe from Accidents

Keep little objects out of your child’s reach and clearly explain that they shouldn’t ever put anything up their nose if you notice them about to investigate it. Not for stuffing; it’s for smelling!

Placing Things in Their Ears

As Tammy Forrest’s then 15-month-old daughter, Bailey, started putting her toy cell phone to her head and saying, “hello,” she thought it was adorable. However, when other objects started coming close to Bailey’s ear, she started to worry. Whether it’s a raisin or a scrap of paper, “almost anything will make its way in,” claims Forrest.

The next most frequent location for babies to hide their treasures is their ears. According to Dr. Schmidt, “They don’t think twice about stuffing part of their lunch into their ear canal as they’re trying to figure out how different items feel.”

Is It Ever Dangerous?

Pushing on something in the ear canal might make it lodge deeper and even cause the eardrum to be punctured. An infection may develop if the object is left within for an extended period of time and germs accumulate.

What to Do in This Situation

According to Dr. Schmidt, an item in the ear rarely necessitates a trip to the emergency room, except for tiny batteries, which can harm the ear in hours. You can go to the pediatrician, who will remove it using specialized techniques.

Keeping Babies Safe from Accidents

The same precautions you take to avoid choking also apply to your ears. Additionally, watch over your child at mealtime to ensure that finger foods are placed in the proper orifice.

Meaningful articles you might like: How to Train Your Baby to Crawl, Tips for Keeping Your Child’s Toys Organized, How To Keep Medicines Out of the Reach of Children