What To Do When A Foreign Item Is Stuck Up Toddler’s Nose

The first time a foreign item gets stuck up your toddler’s nose, it can be frightening. Foreign object nasal obstruction usually happens to curious kiddos who just happen to think it may be a good idea to see if a bean might sprout up there. Children are naturally curious and will put things where they do not belong. They’ll rearrange the house, put stuff in power sockets, and lodge stuff right up their nose.

Sometimes, your toddler will inform you that she has something inside her nose, and other times, she may forget about it. And as much as you’d like to watch your toddler’s every move, it’s not possible, and there will be times when she takes advantage. At this age, she is testing her limits and exploring all sorts of places, her nose included.


And while this may not count as an emergency, you may need medical help to dislodge the item from her nose. Read on to learn more about removing foreign items stuck in your toddler’s nose.

Objects Toddlers Put Inside Their Nose

toddler picking nose

First, do not blame yourself or panic. If your toddler notices that you’re upset, he may get scared to tell you what he has lodged inside his nose. You need all the details you can get, especially if you didn’t witness him doing it. According to What to Expect, here’s a list of common objects that usually get stuck in a child’s nose. Please note that some of them are choking hazards, too, so you should keep them out of your toddler’s reach anyway if you have them at home:

  • Small toys and accessories, such as Barbie shoes.
  • Sequins, beads, and other tiny craft supplies such as stickers
  • Cotton balls, napkins, tissues, and tissue papers. A good fine-motor activity such as rolling tissue into balls and gluing them into paper can turn awry when your toddler puts the balls inside her nose instead.
  • Playdough, crayons, or clay – watch out for rainbow-looking mucus.
  • Game pieces from a game such as Monopoly are probable culprits.
  • Erasers – these are common for babies in daycare or preschool, or if your toddler has an older sibling who uses them. So, watch your toddler when she is drawing or coloring.
  • Food – Cheerios, peanuts, and other finger foods can easily find their way to your toddler’s nose.
  • Medication– Keep all medicine out of your toddler’s reach.
  • Button batteries– If your toddler has a button battery up her nose (found in thermometers, remote controls, or small toys), rush straight to the emergency room. These can cause severe tissue damage and burns in a short period of only two hours. The higher the battery voltage, the quicker the injury.

RELATED: Why Toddlers Pick Their Nose (Because, Yes, It’s Normal)

How To Know Your Child Has Something Stuck Up Their Nose

You’re lucky if you caught your baby “in the act,” meaning you already know something’s up their nose. But toddlers can be sneaky and may not have the proper wording yet to express that something is wrong.

However, according to Very Well Health, Sometimes the items may be large enough that you may notice them. Other times, they’re too small and will only know when your child informs you. So, how can you tell that something is stuck up your baby’s nose? Here is what to watch out for:

  • Nasal drainage (from one nostril)
  • Foul-smelling nasal discharge (from one nostril)
  • Bloody nose, especially a runny one.
  • Nose pain on one side
  • full breath
  • Nonverbal cues, Such as pointing at his nose as he tries to communicate discomfort or pain.

What To Do When A Foreign Item Is Stuck Up Your Toddler’s Nose

toddler picking nose

Here are some tricks you can try yourself:

  • If your kiddo is old enough to understand, advise her to breathe through her mouth to suck the item up further. Have her blow her nose, if possible, into a tissue while you gently press on her nostril that isn’t runny. It may loosen the item enough for it to get out. Avoid forcefully blowing out or accidentally inhaling through the nose while doing so. One or two trials should be enough if this technique will work. Overdoing it may cause more damage.
  • Try removing the object manually using your fingers, but only if you can reach it easily.
  • Attempt the mother’s kiss” technique. It’s like doing mouth-to-mouth, but studies back it as a good at-home strategy for dislodging an object from a kid’s nose. Start by putting your mouth over your child’s mouth, close the unblocked nostril with your finger, and then blow gently into your toddler’s mouth. That force may do the trick.
  • Seek medical help immediately if you cannot see or remove the object.

What You Should Avoid Doing

mom looking at crying baby

According to Queensland Health, Here is what you should avoid doing:

  • Do not panic – It’s normal to stress out, especially if it’s the first time this is happening to your child. However, try and keep your cool. Having something stuck up your toddler’s nose is not life-threatening unless it causes breathing problems. The main concern is infection from blocked nasal fluids.
  • Avoid removing the item with your fingers, tweezers, cotton balls, or buds – These may risk pushing the object deeper into the nasal passage, only increasing things.
  • Avoid using a vacuum cleaner As it’s not the right tool for this specific job.
  • Do not make a big deal out of it– Your toddler will notice your reaction, and if he can provoke a strong emotion by sticking stuff up his nose, he’ll be tempted to repeat it. More importantly, you don’t want them to be scared to tell you if they repeat it.

Sources: Queensland Health, Very Well Health, What to Expect,

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