Button batteries: 3 - 4 years

Button batteries


How big a problem is it?

Button batteries are a real danger to children, so it’s important that you keep all devices containing button batteries out of reach. As well as being a choking hazard, they can get stuck in your child’s throat and burn a hole in as little as two hours, causing serious illness or death.

Each year, it is estimated, 20 children are taken to the Starship Emergency Department because of button-battery related injuries, or because they are suspected to have swallowed one.

This risk with button batteries is bad because you may not know anything is wrong at first. Children may swallow one and continue to breathe and act normally.

Who does it affect?

Kids under six are at the greatest risk as they are inquisitive and love to take things apart and put things in their mouths, nose or eyes. When a coin-sized lithium button battery gets stuck in a child’s throat, the saliva triggers an electrical current that can severely burn the oesophagus in as little as two hours.

Top Tips


  • Search your home and any place your child goes for devices that may contain button batteries. 

  • Keep button battery-controlled devices out of sight and out of the reach of children. As an extra precaution, put some duct tape over the TV remote and keep loose batteries locked away. 

  • Don’t forget to think about all the items around your home that may have button batteries already installed. ‘Singing’ cards, watches, thermometers, decorations and flashing jewellery for example. 

  • Share these tips with caregivers, your whānau and friends – it could save a child’s life.

First Aid

If you suspect that your child has swallowed a button battery:

  • Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency department immediately. Tell the front desk and doctors and nurses you see that your child might have swallowed a coin-sized button battery. Get medical treatment straight away is the key thing. 

  • Honey can significantly reduce burn injuries from swallowing button batteries. If you have some available, give your child 2 teaspoons before heading to the ER, as long as they are at least a year old and there is no obvious chest pain or fever.

  • Two teaspoons can be given every 10 minutes up to 6 doses .

  • It is best not to make your child vomit. 

  • It is best that your child does not eat or drink anything other than honey until a doctor has seen them. 

  • If you have the identification number of the battery (found on the battery’s pack), take it with you to hospital. This could be really helpful to the medical team.

Links to other Battery Controlled videos:

Links to Safekids’ resources

Button Battery Injury Prevention Resources

Links to other organisations’ information

The Battery Controlled NZ