Did Your Kid Swallow a Penny? When to Worry

The chances are that your child swallowed a new penny, one of those minted from a copper and zinc alloy. If that is what your kid ingested, you are looking at a slew of possible health problems. So, instead of contacting a general physician, you will be better off calling a radiologist. The only time you need to do this is when your child’s health deteriorates after swallowing the penny.

Don’t start with panic after the penny swallowing.

It is hard not to panic when your child swallows a non-digestible metal object. However, it would help if you remained as calm and assuring for the sake of your child. This is because your kid is likely to panic twice as much as you do and then engage in more harmful behaviors. In this day of the internet, panic will result in your child implementing a misguided solution to penny swallowing. Therefore, keep assuring them that everything is okay and that you know what is best. 

You can just wait for the penny to come out, but not always.

A majority of doctors will advise you to wait it out for up to a couple of days. They predict that the penny will go through your child’s digestive system and come out without causing any harm. As a parent, it will be quite uncomfortable to sit there and not do anything about it. 

The anxiety you get after your kid swallows a penny will lead you to try out some do-it-yourself solutions. 

If your kid swallowed a penny, induce poop.

Understandably, you will want to speed up the process because you’re concerned with your kid’s health. Actually, it is more for your reassurance because children will tend to be relaxed about the whole incident. No matter what you do, don’t force your kid to poop because the strain may cause physical and psychological side effects. 

Inducing poop for your kid may not be the best possible option because what happens when the penny has not come out, and your child does any more number twos? Then you will have to go back to waiting out as your doctor said.

You might need to get medical help.

The first thing your pediatrician will do is carry out an x-ray to locate the coin in your child’s body. Then if it is viable, they will fish the penny out with the help of an endoscope. The procedure may be foreign and discomforting to your child, so you need to hold their hand from start to finish. 

The most common symptom of penny swallowing is a tummy ache because of the reaction between the stomach acids and the metal alloy. This chemical reaction may lead to:

  • Internal bleeding.
  • Severe ulcers.
  • Vomiting.

In rare cases, a swallowed penny will cause blockage in the intestines, which could prompt surgery. Surgery is unpredictable and is only chosen as a last resort solution. If it comes to an operation, you have to prepare yourself psychologically before and after signing the consent form. 

When seeking medical help, use services such as insurance to offset the cost so that you don’t end up spending a fortune when there are ways to save costs

Swallowing a penny can make your child choke.

Sometimes when a kid swallows a penny, it gets stuck in their throat, which will make the young one hysterical. Your first reaction to this should be to do the Heimlich maneuver. This is where you use hand blows and thrusts to force the penny from their windpipe. It will be helpful to ask your kid to control their breathing, which will calm them down. 

A swallowed penny may go further into the trachea, which will require immediate medical attention. 

There are ways to prevent this from happening again.

Locking away all of your coins is the best way to avoid an incident where your kid swallows a penny. Another prevention measure is to supervise your child as they have fun around the house. It can be hard to keep an eye on your kid every single minute, but there are useful tools such as baby cams. Or you could educate them on what is edible and what they are not allowed to swallow. 


No matter how you look at it, penny swallowing is dangerous for your kid. Even if the coin comes out without causing any harm, the habit of stuffing things in the mouth may result in a health emergency in the near future. The best thing you can do for your child now is to be supportive when it happens and take precautions to prevent it.