“You did what?” I asked my 4-year-old as calmly as I could after he had just confessed that he stuck something up his nose. “I put a piece of cat food up my nose and I think it’s still in there,” he cries. While I didn’t have any experience in this area until now, I was pretty certain that cat food didn’t appear on the top ten list of common objects kids like to put up their noses. Usually it’s Lego pieces, French fries, raisins, crayons, coins, peas or Cheerios, but I guess any small object will do in the mind of a young exploratory scientist. Turns out cat food is actually mild compared to other items kids have chosen.
At this point, he was scared, and to be honest, I was too. There were many thoughts swirling around my mind at once. Is it still in there? Is this normal? Why would he do that? Cat food? Shouldn’t he know better? Is this going to result in a trip to the ER? Oh please, I hope it’s still not in there. My poor boy! I was afraid to look but once I got a hold of myself, I gave him a thorough visual inspection and had him blow his nose holding one nostril shut, while assuring him everything will be ok. Nothing was happening. We kept searching but nothing was in sight. We finally were able to conclude that it had fallen out because we found the evidence on the floor nearby. He calmed down. We kept a close eye on any additional symptoms just in case, but thankfully none appeared.
I understood his fear. When I was young, I had swallowed my mom’s miniature coin collection. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but apparently there was just something about it that I couldn’t resist! I remember feeling scared after I realized what I had done.
Why on Earth do kids do these things?
“This is how children investigate their environment,” said Dr. Jonathan Powell, a pediatrician with Resurrection Medical Group in Chicago. “When they are babies, they stick everything in their mouth. As they get a little older, they try other places. It’s very common.”
When this had occurred, I wondered what the most common age is for this behavior and it turns out that it’s most common in children between the ages of one and six.
Although we got lucky in this case, children putting objects in their nose can be very dangerous. While not 100 percent guaranteed, there are ways to try to prevent it from occurring such as checking your home from a child’s point of view, storing small objects where they can’t be reached, and avoid buying toys with nose-clogging parts. Believe it or not, Barbie shoes are among the more common items being removed from children’s nostrils!
If this ever happens to your child, stay calm and don’t panic (easier said than done, I know.) Here are some tips on how to handle the situation. Most importantly, teach your children the importance of not putting foreign objects where they don’t belong. My son had never done anything like this before, so it really caught me by surprise.
At the end of the day, we sat down together and had a nice talk about what had happened and how dangerous it could be. I think this one really hit home for him and I don’t expect that it will happen again. At least I hope not!