Button Batteries

“It turns out this is one of the most damaging and dangerous things that my beautiful boy could have ever swallowed. It does not get much worse than this.” - Mother of an 8 month-old baby boy.

Button batteries, in particular big, powerful lithium coin cell batteries, can badly hurt or kill a small child if they swallow one and it gets stuck in their food pipe.


  • Take them straight to the A&E department at your local hospital or dial 999 for an ambulance.

  • Tell the doctor there that you think your child has swallowed a button battery.

  • If you have the battery packaging or the product powered by the battery, take it with you. This will help the doctor identify the type of battery and make treatment easier.

  • Do not let your child eat or drink.

  • Do not make them sick.

  • Trust your instincts and act fast – do not wait to see if any symptoms develop.

No obvious symptoms

Unfortunately it is not obvious when a button battery is stuck in a child’s food pipe. There are no specific symptoms associated with this. The child may:

  • cough, gag or drool a lot
  • appear to have a stomach upset or a virus
  • be sick
  • point to their throat or tummy
  • have a pain in their tummy, chest or throat
  • be tired or lethargic
  • be quieter or more clingy than usual or otherwise ‘not themselves’
  • lose their appetite or have a reduced appetite
  • not want to eat solid food / be unable to eat solid food.

But these sorts of symptoms vary. Plus, the symptoms may fluctuate, with the pain increasing and then subsiding.

This is why it is really important to trust your instincts and act fast if you if you suspect your child has swallowed a button battery, taking them to A&E or dialling 999 for an ambulance.

One thing specific to button battery ingestion is vomiting fresh (bright red) blood. If the child does this then seek immediate medical help. 

More information

Download and share our top tips for keeping children safe, learn where you can find button batteries in your home, understand why ‘flat’ batteries are still dangerous and find out what to do in an emergency if you suspect your child has swallowed one.