That Time My Child Swallowed a Penny

my child swallowed a penny

Last week, my daughter swallowed a penny. I had no idea what to do. First, I cried. Then, I called my mom. Neither option provided me with a solution. So I thought if I shared my story, and it happens to you, you won’t feel as lost as I did! If you have a spunky child, you just might want to bookmark this for the future…

Here’s how it all went down:

I had just buckled the baby and my almost-three-year-old daughter into the car as we were headed to the library and the park. I saw my daughter had found a penny and was playing with it. Since she tends to put things on her chin and her nose and touching her lips, I said “Keep it away from your face.” She’s been a fairly compliant child so far. I thought I could trust her.

About 1/2 mile down the road, I hear, “Mommy, I lost my money in my mouth.” from the backseat. “You what?” “I lost my money.” “What?!?” I pulled over into a parking lot and got out. I was already calling my mom. Why my mom? Well, she had been through this. Also at around 3 years old, my older sister swallowed a penny. She still has it stored in the piggy necklace someone gave her to commemorate the occasion.

My mom’s immediate response: “Go to the ER!” In my typical fashion, I replied, “Seriously?!” I did not want to go to the ER! But that’s what my mom did with my sister. After a few more minutes of discussing this, it was clear to me that 1. My daughter was not choking. 2.The penny was missing. 3. I needed a second opinion. and 4. I needed a quick cry.

I got the cry over with and called my daughter’s pediatrician. I didn’t want to make an appointment but I wanted to talk to someone. Unfortunately, I kept getting sent to the nurses’ voicemail box. So I called the next person who popped in my head: my friend, Kirstin. Kirstin is a great mom. And she is much more relaxed than me. We get along perfectly. (I am highly neurotic, she’s loosey goosey. It just works.) I called her because I thought there might be a chance that one of her kids had swallowed something over the past few years. And I was supposed to be meeting her at the library in less than ten minutes. She, sadly, did not have any experience in the matter but agreed with me that the ER sounded a little extreme.

Since I was still pulled over 1/2 mile from my house, I realized I was also only about a mile away from my kids’ pediatrician. Kirstin so calmly pointed out that I could just go to the office and ask for the nurse. Genius!

Two minutes later, we were at the pediatrician. We went in and I asked to talk to a nurse. The triage nurse came out, and on a side-note, I love her. She’s been at the practice since my son was born and I’ve really just become so fond of her. She knows my kids’ nicknames and treats them like her little buddies. I filled her in on our situation: “My child swallowed a penny.” And there my daughter was, looking totally normal, yelling at the fish tank, “Nemo! Nemo, Mommy! Nemo!”

The nurses pointed out: “She looks fine to me! She’s obviously not choking. It will pass in time.” Relief. Great. Now I can go to the library and the park and just wait for Abraham Lincoln to reappear in a few days.

While I was buckling everyone back into the car, the nurse came back out with a sad face. “He wants to do an x-ray.” She mentioned some things about the doctor’s concerns about pennies and corrosion and getting stuck at the top of the stomach… I was not listening well. I had already started unbuckling the kids again.

We went back in and saw a doctor. He checked her vitals and gave us a slip to go get an x-ray. The x-ray tech was about a mile back, right about the spot where she swallowed the penny. (I love our town. We have one stop light but about 1,000 doctors.)

The x-ray tech was this young guy, Scott. I could tell he was overwhelmed by my daughter (who kept doing twirls in the waiting room), the baby (who was starting to get fussy) and me (who kept taking pictures on my phone because the whole situation was just that ridiculous).

He took three x-rays and showed me them on a screen. There was the penny. In the stomach. It looked giant, like it was too big to fit in there. But, there it was. The doctor looked at the images and confirmed that it was okay where it was. My daughter’s pediatrician called and said the same thing. And that it should pass in a few days but to call if she had stomach pains or got “backed up.”

It’s been four days and we are still waiting. (UPDATE: It took 5 days! But it returned with only a little extra effort in getting it out! TMI? )

In case you are coming back to this bookmarked post because your child swallowed a penny and you don’t have time to reread the whole thing, here are the highlights:

My child swallowed a penny:

  1. If they are choking and cannot breathe, do the Heimlich and call 911.
  2. If it is stuck in their throat but they are still breathing, go to the ER.
  3. If they have swallowed it and seem ok, go to your Doctor anyway.
  4. Get an x-ray to make sure it made it all the way to the stomach.
  5. Wait. Inspect for the penny’s return as often as necessary.
  6. Try not to puke.

Have you had a child swallow a penny? How did you respond? Here is my favorite answer to this question that I received from a text:

my child swallowed a penny

Disclaimer: I am not offering medical advice, just sharing my experience. Always consult your doctor.


Meet Carrie

I am a Mom who loves her kids, loves to write, loves to bake, cook, and create, loves the hubs, loves Christ, and loves to be with people. I tend to do too much and I have a hard time saying No. In my spare time, which comes sparingly, I love to snuggle up under a blanket with some ice cream and some good tv!

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  1. says

    I still remember when I accidentally caused my daughter to swallow a dime. She put it in her mouth, and like you, I told her to take it out, and then I went to take it away, and uh, she swallowed it.

    I probably didn’t freak as much as I should have. I didn’t take her to the doctor. We just watched to see if she was okay for the next few days.
    Barb @ A Life in Balance recently posted…2013 goal check in: love people (relationships)My Profile

  2. says

    Mine got a pea stuck in his nose before and I had a similar freak out moment! But there are blog posts of other children getting peas stuck in their noses that helped me, so hopefully your post will help someone one day too! 🙂

    • says

      I remember a neighbor sticking a Tictac up her nose and it getting stuck! It was one of those moments where a dozen or so little kids were trying to solve the problem without telling an adult. It’s hilarious to look back on but I bet her mom wasn’t laughing when she had to go tell her 🙂

    • says

      Yes. I would argue you couldn’t pay me to do that for any other reason. And all for a penny. But at least my husband is sharing the “duty” 🙂

  3. says

    Oh my goodness. My daughter hasn’t swallowed a penny, but she did stick a raisin in her nose, and we got it out so we didn’t have to go to the ER. Hope she passes the penny soon, and hope it isn’t too gross.

    • says

      Thanks, Jessica! I have had the pleasure of sharing it quite a few times already. I have to make sure I don’t glorify the event around my daughter or who knows what she’ll eat next!

    • says

      A random stranger at the park told me her daughter swallowed a gem and it took 4 days! The digestive system is a well oiled machine… just not sure how long that machine takes to run.

  4. says

    OH NO! I’ve been a teacher for many years and I had preschoolers put beads up their nose in the past but did not shallow anything…thank goodness. My boys were pretty good, didn’t place everything in their mouths when they were younger. I would of been very nervous if that happened to me.
    O’Boy! Organic recently posted…REAL FOOD – Weekly Meal PlanMy Profile

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