If Given the Chance – Kids Will Swallow Anything
Babies and young children put things in their mouths for many reasons – hunger, boredom, curiosity, entertainment, etc. It starts with fingers and toes, and gradually up to any object they can find and pick up. Kids do this naturally as they learn to explore, taste, see, touch, hold, hear, smell and everything in between.
We saw this with Tide Pods with young children and even seniors. Young children and the elderly, with dementia, thought the squishy, colored pod was candy and they tried to eat them. As a result, Pods average 11,568 poison-control calls each year involving kids, since its introduction in 2013.
A new study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission looked at the number of kids under the age of 6 who visited the emergency room (ER) after swallowing an object between the years 1995 and 2015. They discovered the number of ER visits doubled over the 20-year period. An average of 99 kids per day visit the ER and over the 20-year period more than 755,000 children have sought treatment (including surgical removal) in the ER after swallowing something.
The most common items swallowed include pennies, marbles, small toys, magnets, earrings, rings, game pieces, buttons, batteries and more.
Here are some things to do if you believe your child swallowed something:
- Remain calm.
- Call 911 or go to the ER - if the child swallowed something that immediately obstructs their windpipe and they are experiencing respiratory distress or they have any of these symptoms – drooling, gagging, spitting, chest pain or the sensation of an object being stuck in the throat.
- Call or take your child to the doctor if they swallowed something sharp or a battery.
- Call your child’s doctor if your child swallowed something metal like a coin.
- Call your child’s doctor if your child swallowed a non-sharp object.
- Parents or caregivers should never attempt to forcefully remove any objects in the esophagus.
- For help, you can also call Poison Control at 800-222-1222.
- While some foreign objects will pass harmlessly through a child’s gastrointestinal track and stool, they still should be monitored for several days. You should always consult with your child’s doctor about their status.
How to keep your child from swallowing items:
- Watch young children closely.
- Child proof your home by getting on your child’s level and looking for hazards and removing them.
- Keep all small objects, sharp objects and batteries out of a child’s sight and reach.
- Keep small part toys that could be swallowed away from children.
- Do your research and purchase safe toys that are appropriate for the child’s age and show them how to play with the toy.
- Model good behavior and redirect unwanted behavior.
- Tell your kid no, that is it not okay to put that object in their mouth.
- Consider switching the unappropriated item for something that is acceptable – like animal crackers
- Learn to redirect your child to something that they may find more interesting.
- Use products with child resistant packaging.