The immediate danger when swallowing strange things is that objects will block airways. If it's stuck in the esophagus it can irritate the lining or compress the trachea. In most cases, whatever your child swallows will eventually make an exit. Certain objects cause doctors extra concern - button batteries can erode quickly and sharp items can cause a laceration. If your child swallows more than one magnet, they can spur the intestines to become kinked or twisted. Eating too much of something like sand or loose carpet fibers, can also have consequences.
So if any of these things happen It's okay to wait a day or two for the object to pass as long as you haven't seen symptoms and it's not a dangerous object. If he starts to drool excessively, choke, vomit or have abdominal pain, take him to the emergency room.
There are some precautions you can take to prevent some of these things from happening. Be on alert. Keep objects that can fit through a toilet paper tube out of reach. Offer your baby a pacifier if he has a penchant for sucking on non-edibles. And just in case, take infant CPR.
If something goes up the nose, although there is a slight risk of choking, an infection is the chief concern. An object buried deep in the nostrils can block nasal secretions and the nostrils may then become laden with bacteria. If your child has a runny nose coming from only one nostril, there's a good chance something's up there.
As long as your baby cooperates and you can see what's hiding out, you can try to remove whatever it is with tweezers Just be careful not to push it farther in. If you're having no luck reaching the object, call your doctor or go to the emergency room.
You can avoid these type of incidents by keeping small objects out of reach and explain that they should never put anything up their nose.
Catching a finger is more uncomfortable than dangerous, but whenever a body part is constricted, circulation may be cut off, which can damage tissue. So, if this happens try winding dental floss or string around the swollen part of the finger to compress the swelling so you can squeeze the finger back through the opening. If there are no sharp edges, oil or Vaseline can help too.
To avoid getting a finger stuck store soda cans and other potential sticking points away from small hands. You can also buy special covers for your computer and DVD drive.
Childproofing has to start, ideally, before your baby can crawl, and last until at least age 3. For more information, see our tips at AmericanBaby.
Jessica Hartshorn & Erika Wortham