About button batteries
Button batteries are small, disc-shaped batteries.
Button batteries are used to power many common household objects and personal items, including:
- some toys
- remote controls and key fobs
- digital scales, calculators and thermometers
- singing greeting cards
- flameless or tealight candles and other household decorations
- watches, hearing aids and flashing holiday jewellery.
Risks of button batteries for children
If your child puts a button battery into their nose, ear or eye, there’s a risk of the battery getting stuck and causing injuries.
If your child puts a button battery into their mouth or swallows it, these are the main risks:
- Choking – this is when a child’s airway gets blocked. Anything smaller than a 20-cent piece can cause choking.
- Internal burns – the chemicals in button batteries can burn through the food pipe in as little as 2 hours. These burns can lead to serious injury, surgery or death.
To avoid risks and prevent injuries caused by button batteries, store button batteries and products that contain them out of sight and reach of children. You can also read more about how to prevent children inserting foreign objects.
What to do if children have inserted or swallowed button batteries
If your child has a button battery stuck in their nose, eye, ear or other body opening, seek medical advice. Don’t try to remove the battery yourself because this could cause further injury.
If your child has swallowed a button battery, the signs might not be obvious. It can look like many other illnesses. For example, your child might:
- gag, drool or have problems swallowing
- have chest or stomach pain
- start coughing or have noisy breathing
- vomit or refuse food
- have blood in their vomit, poo or spit, or have blood coming from their nose or ears
- have a fever or feel generally unwell.
If you see the signs above and there’s any chance your child has swallowed or inserted a button battery, call the Poisons Information Centre immediately on 131 126 for advice. You can also call 000 for an ambulance. Don’t encourage your child to vomit, and don’t give your child food or drink.