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Babies sometimes bite off more than they can digest

It's a fact of life: Babies and toddlers put things in their mouths. And once something's in their mouth, there's a good chance they'll swallow it.

Luckily, most things that are swallowed pass through safely.

But some things pose a danger.

Most coins shoot safely through a child's digestive system. But if pennies, which are made almost entirely of zinc, become stuck in the stomach, they can eat away at its lining and cause an ulcer, according to If your child swallows a penny and it doesn't show up in the stool within a couple of days, call your doctor, particularly if your child vomits or complains of stomach pain.

Button batteries, which are also potentially corrosive, can do serious damage if they become lodged in the esophagus, stomach or intestines. If your child swallows a battery, call your doctor, poison control or the National Button Battery Ingestion Hotline at (202) 625-3333.

If your child swallows any object before you can stop him, be alert for these symptoms:

Trouble breathing, speaking, crying or swallowing

Wheezing or noisy breathing

Ineffective coughing

Drooling or spitting up saliva

Loss of consciousness

Check to see if the object is blocking your child's larynx or trachea. If it is, clear the airway quickly using the Heimlich maneuver. Call 911.

Excessive drooling may mean that the object is lodged in the esophagus. Call 911.

If your child shows no immediate symptoms, the best thing to do is wait and watch. Check all stools until the object is passed, usually in four to five days. If it isn't passed or if your child has any symptoms, such as vomiting, a loss of appetite or signs of abdominal pain, call your doctor. Sometimes, the object can get stuck in the lower digestive tract.