Toddler Swallowed a Penny? What to Do and Where to Get Help?

One moment it was there, and the next it had disappeared. A quick look around, and you realize what happened: “My toddler swallowed a penny!” You need to stay calm and know what to do. Keep reading and assess the symptoms to see if your child needs medical help.
toddler swallowed penny

It’s an Emergency If Your Child Is Choking or Can’t Breathe

If your toddler swallowed a penny and is now choking or can’t breathe, it’s an emergency. Give them first aid – if you’re trained – and have someone call 911. First aid in the event of choking includes back blows and abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver.

But if you’re googling “my toddler swallowed a penny,” chances are your child isn’t choking and you just want to know what the next steps are. Keep reading for more information on what to do when a child swallows a coin.

Your Toddler Swallowed a Penny: What Should You Do?

The first thing you should do is look at the child and see if they are in any discomfort. Swallowing a foreign object is more common than you might think – especially among curious toddlers. In most cases, the object will eventually pass through the digestive system without any problems. Here’s a list of symptoms that warrant a visit to the ER:

  • drooling;
  • vomiting;
  • coughing;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • neck pain;
  • chest pain.

These are signs that the coin got stuck in the esophagus or is causing an obstruction. If your toddler swallowed a penny and is showing any of these symptoms, head to the emergency room right away.

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What If a Toddler Swallows a Penny and Has No Symptoms?

If your child has swallowed a penny and is acting normal, it’s probably best to wait and see. It can take up to 5 days for the coin to pass through the system. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to ease their discomfort and keep an eye out for any problems.

  • Call your child’s doctor for advice and to let them know what happened. They’ll likely advise you to watch for any symptoms and to bring your toddler in for a check-up if the penny doesn’t pass within a few days.
  • Give your toddler lots of fluids to help flush the coin through their system. Water is always a good choice, but you can also give them juice or milk.
  • If your child develops bellyache, try giving them a warm bath or placing a heating pad on their stomach. Consult your doctor to make sure the penny hasn’t damaged the stomach lining.
  • Keep an eye on your toddler’s poop. This is how you’ll know when the penny has finally passed. It’s normal for their stool to be a little discolored while the coin is making its way through, but it shouldn’t be bloody or black.

Symptoms of an Intestinal Blockage or Tearing

What if your toddler swallowed a penny a few days ago and is now feeling sick? Watch for the symptoms of an intestinal blockage or damage. If the stool is dark or bloody and your child is experiencing stomach pain, vomiting, or diminished bowel sounds, call the doctor right away. These are signs that the coin has caused an obstruction or perforated the intestines.

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When to Call Poison Control

If you’re really worried and want to speak to someone about what to do if your toddler swallowed a penny, call Poison Control. They will give you specific instructions based on your toddler’s age, weight, and the severity of their symptoms. The number for Poison Control is 1-800-222-1222.

Now you know what to do if your toddler swallowed a penny. In most cases, there’s no need to panic – the coin will eventually pass through their system without causing any problems. But it’s always best to err on the side of caution and call the doctor if you’re unsure or your toddler is showing any signs of discomfort.

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