Button battery safety factsheet


Button batteries are small, circle-shaped batteries that are very common and used in many household items like:

  • toys
  • remote controls and key fobs
  • kitchen scales
  • thermometers
  • musical greeting cards
  • children’s books that play sound.

Button batteries are extremely dangerous for children and can cause serious injury and death when swallowed.

These batteries can be very attractive to small children because they are small (about 0.5cm – 3.2cm wide) and shiny.

Button batteries can cause serious injury and death by quickly causing internal burns and bleeding when they:

  • become stuck in the oesophagus - the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach
  • travel through organs in the digestive system
  • become stuck in the nose, eyelids, and ears.

Button batteries cause burns when the leftover electrical current causes a chemical reaction in the body. They can also leak poisonous chemicals.

These injuries can happen in under 2 hours.

Signs and symptoms

Children will often swallow button batteries without anyone knowing. A child who is too young may be unable to tell you what they just put in their mouth. Sometimes, you may hear or see choking as the battery is swallowed. 

Signs that your child may have swallowed a button battery include:

  • unusual gagging or drooling
  • refusal to eat solid food
  • coughing or noisy breathing
  • vomiting or regurgitation of food
  • unexplained fever
  • chest pain 
  • grunting
  • black or red vomit or poo
  • nose bleeds 
  • abdominal pain
  • general discomfort
  • blood in the mouth or saliva
  • bloody discharge from ear or nose.

If you think your child has swallowed a button battery, you must take action immediately.

Call the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for immediate support and information on which emergency department to go to for treatment. 

Do not try to make your child vomit.

Do not let your child eat or drink while you wait to speak to the NSW Poisons Information Centre.


Your child’s treatment team in the emergency department will check your child based on any symptoms they are showing. They may also need to do an x-ray to see where the battery is.


Do not try to treat your child at home by making your child vomit.

Injuries from button batteries are treated in the hospital. 

Call the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 for immediate support and information on which emergency department to go to for treatment.


Keeping your child safe from button batteries

Because button batteries are very common, storing them safely at home is important. Some tips for storing button batteries include:

  • keeping spare and used batteries out of reach in a locked cupboard high off the ground
  • making sure products that use button batteries have a screw holding the battery compartment in place, and placing products that don’t have a screw out of reach.

When disposing of used button batteries:

  • wrap them fully in sticky tape and place them in a glass jar, out of reach of children
  • throw the batteries away as soon as possible in an outside bin or at a household battery recycling location.

When buying batteries or products that use button batteries:

  • replace batteries as needed and avoid keeping extras in the home
  • pick brands that use child-resistant packaging that can only be opened with scissors
  • try to avoid toys or items that use button batteries, especially if the toy is small and can be swallowed – for example, apple air tags.

Standards and legislation for button batteries

The Australian Government has introduced four mandatory standards for button batteries and products containing button batteries.

Under the mandatory safety and information standards:

  1. products must have secure battery compartments to prevent children from accessing the batteries
  2. Manufacturers must go through compliance testing
  3. Manufacturers must supply batteries in child-resistant packaging
  4. Manufacturers must place additional warnings and emergency advice on packaging and instructions.
Last updated Tuesday 26th March 2024


This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024