Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What to Do When Your Child Swallows a Marble {aka Poop Watch 2014}

We have a simple rule in our house...

If it isn't food then it doesn't go in your mouth.

So why, one might wonder, are we on Poop Watch alert?


What to Do When Your Child Swallows a Marble

I had just tucked Rachel into bed last night and had started walking out of the door when she bolted up and started coughing hard.  When her coughing stopped, she said, "Oh no!  I swallowed a marble!"

Silly girl had popped the marble in her mouth as she was lying down and I hadn't noticed it.  Then as we were saying our goodnights and giggling together, the marble must have slipped down her throat.  Fortunately she was not asleep when it went down her throat!

I have spoken with her pediatrician's office and done some research on the web.  Here is what I've learned this morning:


  • When a child swallows a marble, coin, Lego, or other items that is not food, the item is referred to as a "foreign object".
  • The most popular foreign object for children to swallow are coins.  We can check that off our "Been There, Done That" list. Rachel did that one a couple of years ago.
  • Little kids learn about their environment by using their sense of touch with their fingers but also by putting things in their mouths.  Usually babies and toddlers are at the highest risk for swallowing foreign objects because they are so curious and they don't understand the dangers of swallowing these things.  This is also a concern if they get into medicines and cleaning products.  Everything goes in their mouths so parents of little ones have to be sure to Baby Proof their homes!  However, "almost 6 year old" kindergarteners are old enough to understand that a marble is not food and doesn't belong in her mouth.  But Rachel has always been very "oral".  She still sucks her thumb and rubs the edge of her soft "pink baby" on her lip for comfort.  She puts her mouth on playground equipment and has even licked the floor of a public bathroom before I realized what she was doing and freaked out.  We often catch her with things in her mouth even at 5 1/2 years old.  She just likes to see how they feel in her mouth.
  • Most small objects will pass on through their esophagus, stomach and intestine and come out in their poop.  They may experience tummy aches and it may take several days for the object to come out.  Hence, Poop Watch 2014.  We can probably expect no problems with Rachel's marble but I want to know for sure that it has come out so we'll check her poop for the next few days.  Just one of the many disgusting things that only a mom would ever do.
  • Some items that a child might swallow may need medical attention based on the nature of the object.  For example, small batteries are a danger because the battery acid can leak into their bodies.  Sharp objects are obviously a danger for poking or getting stuck in their stomach or intestine.  Also there have been incidents where children have swallowed more than one small magnet and a magnet in the stomach attracted the magnet in the intestine and everything got bound up then.  The marble Rachel swallowed was smooth glass so there aren't any sharp edges and the glass will not be hazardous to her body.
  • What about the foreign object getting stuck in there somewhere?  The marble Rachel swallowed was actually a florist glass bead that they use to fill the bottom of a vase to make it look prettier.  These beads are slightly larger than a regular marble and not completely round but kind of flattened.  I'm a little concerned about it getting stuck in her body.  The most narrow part of the path for a foreign object to travel is through the esophagus.  Once it makes it past there, it is probably smooth sailing on down without complications.  So what should a parent look for to determine if an object is lodged in their child's esophagus?  The child may have chest or tummy pain, difficultly swallowing or just being unwilling to eat or drink, drooling, pain in throat, vomiting, blood in stool, or a fever.
  • What else can be done?  If you have any concerns that your child swallowed a dangerous object or that the foreign object is not going to just pass on through, then get them to a doctor right away.  The doctor will first need to locate where the object is.  They may take xrays, CT scan, or use a metal detector, laryngoscopy, or endoscopy to help them locate the foreign object.  Treatment options will then be discussed.
Girl with tummy ache from swallowing marble

Unfortunately, Rachel is a worrier, like her mama.  She has been talking about the marble all morning and is now saying she has a tummy ache.  Her pediatrician's office has again reassured me that a tummy ache for a few days can be completely normal.  She was just laying on the kitchen floor until I suggested she come lie on the couch with her pillow and blanket to watch some cartoons.  I'm giving her easy to digest food and monitoring her for signs of distress.  So far she's just happily watching "My Little Pony". 


Please keep her in your prayers that this crazy marble passes soon and she gets back to her happy bouncy self again.  And I guess you can say a little prayer for the mama that the Poop Watch isn't too distressing either.

28 comments:

  1. We are going through the same thing with my two year old. How long did it take to come out? We are nearing one week and I'm starting to worry!

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  2. Debbie, this marble came out in about 3 days. However, I had to do this one time when she was younger. She swallowed a penny and it took about a week to come out. It couldn't hurt to talk to your pediatrician's office just to see if they might have any other suggestions. I'm praying that all goes well with your little one.

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  3. My 8 year old has swallowed a marble and it has not passed on through. She swallowed it on New Year's day. We have had an x-ray and it shows it is still there. They are telling me if she doesn't pass it, she will have surgery. Very concerned.

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    1. I'll be praying for your daughter and that the marble passes soon.

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  5. It's kind of funny that I found this page. My 6 year old son swallowed exactly the same thing - a decorative glass "marble" like the ones florists use. I don't actually know what they're called so I searched using the word marble and this Web page was the second choice on the first page if search results. I checked my son over carefully, he's breathing fine, drank some water without any difficulty, and now he's sound asleep. I'm concerned, obviously, but I remember my younger brother swallowing an actual marble at about the same age, and he had no issues. I'll be keeping an eye on my son for a few days but your experience makes me a little less uneasy about it. Thanks for posting.

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  6. It's kind of funny that I found this page. My 6 year old son swallowed exactly the same thing - a decorative glass "marble" like the ones florists use. I don't actually know what they're called so I searched using the word marble and this Web page was the second choice on the first page if search results. I checked my son over carefully, he's breathing fine, drank some water without any difficulty, and now he's sound asleep. I'm concerned, obviously, but I remember my younger brother swallowing an actual marble at about the same age, and he had no issues. I'll be keeping an eye on my son for a few days but your experience makes me a little less uneasy about it. Thanks for posting.

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    1. My 4 year old swallowed the next same thing about 5 days ago. How long did it take your son the pass the glass decorative glass bead/marble?

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  7. My baby MAY have swallowed the same thing at grandparents house. Found one in her mouth I got out and one in her hand, but she woke up crying so I'm wondering if it's teething, nightmare, or tummy ache from this possible florist marble. She is drinking fine and wetting diapers so fluid is going through. I guess I'll be on diaper watch. Thanks for posting

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  8. Must be the time of year...

    My daughter, Sopia, swallowed a glass bead (ladybug) about ten minutes ago. I chose this search as the bead was about the size of a regular marble. She will be 5 on Saturday. Now the waiting game begins for us too. I asked her if she felt that she was ready to turn 5 in light of the current situation, and she told me that she's decided not to.

    Thanks for posting your experience. I read it to my wife and now she feels better.

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  9. My 4 year old grandson just swallowed a blue marble. I made him drink and he was fine. I told him he would have to poop it out, so now he is now on the potty. Funny but not. I did not recall my children swallowing items (they may have) but my daughter did get a ping pong ball stuck in her mouth. I became panicky when after 5 minutes I could not get it out. My husband walked up and squeezed her cheeks and it popped out! Needless to say we will be on #2 patrol. Thanks for posting and easing my mind.

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  10. Thanx so much for posting this, as my 10 yr old accidentally swallowed a marble earlier. It has helped me calm down to where I might be able to get some rest now, and begin poop watch in the morning my self! Ill let you guys know how long it takes. And I will def. be checking in to see if any-body else has found one in the toilet yet,lol. Racheal

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  11. It's been 4 days since my 4 1/2 yr old swallowed a marble! We went to the ER because he said he felt it stuck in his throat even though he was breathing fine. The doctor said that feeling was probably the physical trauma feeling from swallowing the marble. X-ray showed it was in his stomach. Doctor suggested feeding him a lot of grains, cereal, oatmeal, bran, fiber, etc. and it should pass in a day or 2. We are on Day 4 and it hasn't passed yet! Thanks for all the posts. We'll keep watching & hope it comes out soon!

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  12. Thank you for posting, i feel better now.. Im so worried of my son, he swallowed a same thing, praying that the object will come out soon...

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  13. My brother got a marble stuck in his tummy tonight I am very nervous.

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  14. My daughter who 5 years old also swallowed a marble last night hoping it will pass soon so I can be a t peace

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  15. My 5-1/2 year old daughter swallowed a plastic "marble" from a game. It passed through in 4 days. For those reading and waiting for something to appear. I finally was able to breathe a sigh of relief after being on poop watch for 4 days!

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  16. 4yo swallowed a decrative marble 30 min ago. I let him drink 2 oz vegetable oil and then a banana, works immediately. He pooped right away but marble is not out yet. Will try tomorrow again!

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  17. How many of your children had vomiting along with stomach pain? Keeping an eye on my 4-year old marble swallower.

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  18. My son just swallowed marble ty for all the posts poop watch here we come

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  19. my son swallowed a dice yesterday... after seeing the reviews i taught i will wait for 2 days and then consult the doctor...Luckily i found it today in his poop...relaxed... thanks for the posts...

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    1. my son just did the same ....ill be checking the stool

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  20. Enter your comment...my 5 year old jst swallowed a marble drank some water and ate supper. Feelin a bit of panick bt now I can relaxx a little bit.Will be on poop petrol 2morrw.Thanks 4 the post.

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  21. My daughter is 5 and she swallowed a round glass marble she's trying to throw it back up is that safe?

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  22. My little boy swallowed a glass bead thing last night he only told me this evening
    I thought he was choking last night so I did all the right things tipped him upside down banged his back and I panicked, so he didn't tell me what it was until tonight
    I feel awful and anxious
    After reading this I feel much better and I will also be on poop duty!! Praying it will all be fine

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  23. My 13 year old teenage sonm was doing a trick where he drink the marble like a vitamin; teenage craizness

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  24. My 4 year old just did the same thing last night with the same object a florist bead marble I seen her playing with it but she never puts things in her mouth but last night she did and ended up swallowing it she also fine I was so scared when it happen but dad told me it should come out I will give it 4 day to see if she poops it out if not we will be making a trip to the doctor

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