What to do if your child eats a dishwasher tablet or button batteries.

Button Batteries

Button batteries and lithium coin batteries are small, round, batteries you find in toys, cards, watches, key fobs and numerous other everyday objects.

Lithium coin batteries are particularly concerning as they can burn through tissue and blood vessels within hours. Often parents are oblivious to the fact that their child has swallowed the battery and the first symptom they are aware of is their child vomiting blood. Sadly, this is often too late to save the child as irreparable damage has already occurred.

Sometimes, button batteries do pass through the body without a problem. However, if a battery gets stuck, energy from the battery creates corrosive caustic soda and it is this that burns through tissues.

If children pop a battery up their nose or in their ear, this can also result in lasting damage.


Prevention and vigilance is key:

  • Always check battery compartments are securely fastened.
  • If a battery is missing and you think your child may have swallowed it, take them to A&E for an x-ray.
  • Store and dispose of batteries carefully, out of children’s reach and sight.

If you think your child may have swallowed a button battery – act fast!

Take them to your nearest Accident and Emergency department immediately.

  • Do not wait for signs or symptoms
  • Do not try to make them sick
  • Do not give them anything to eat or drink

Your toddler will be x-rayed and, if necessary, be taken for an operation as soon as possible to remove the battery.

First Aid for LifeFirst Aid for Life

First Aid for Life and onlinefirstaid.com provide this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made or actions taken based on this information. The best way to be prepared for action in an emergency is to attend a practical first aid course or do one online.