With no help from the parents, kids somehow become circus performers by the time they reach the age of 2. They're climbing everywhere and using the toilet bowl (or their mouths!) as a basketball ring. And there is that stage where toddlers feel an urgent need to place things inside their noses! On hindsight, foreign objects lodged inside children's noses are funny, but it can also be serious enough to require a trip to the emergency room.
“If there is something stuck in your child’s nostril, it’s important to act quickly — either try to remove it or take your child to the doctor right away,” according to Cleveland Clinic. “If you delay, an infection can develop.” There’s also the chance that the object gets sucked into your child’s airway, which can lead to choking.
Dr. Purva Grover, the medical director of Cleveland Clinic Children’s Pediatric Emergency Departments, advised parents to make one attempt to remove the object on their own. Older children can be asked to block the unobstructed nostril by blowing her nose.
For younger children who may not be able to do this, Dr. Grover recommends trying to remove the object with the “mother’s kiss” method, which works best for hard objects like beads.
With the “mother’s kiss,” the parent will hold or block the unobstructed nostril, place her mouth on her child’s mouth, and blow. The blow should be a “rapid, soft puff of air,” says the American Academy of Family Physicians. The gentle pressure from the blow forces the object out and is successful more than half of the time, Dr. Grover said.
Again, if the object is not removed after one attempt or is something soft like a piece of tissue or foam, bring your child to a doctor.
If the object still doesn’t come out, seek a doctor’s help. “The more times you try, the less cooperative your child will be when the doctor tries to remove it. This increases the likelihood of needing an operation to remove the object.”
Small toys, pieces of eraser, tissue, clay, food, and pebbles are common items children put in their noses, according to Healthline. “Button batteries, such as those found in watches, are of particular concern. They can cause serious injury to the nasal passage in as little as four hours.” (See how dangerous a button battery can be to a child when ingested or placed inside the ear and nose here.)
Your child may cry because of the discomfort or pain. She may also have a runny nose in just one nostril, which can be accompanied by a foul smell. Prevent these types of incidents by keeping small items out of reach, especially if your child is likely to put something up his nose again.
“Make sure all toys are age appropriate and supervise small children closely… And of course, teach your child that it's a bad idea to put anything in his nose or ears.”