If it isn't food then it doesn't go in your mouth.
So why, one might wonder, are we on Poop Watch alert?
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.
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.