Small, high-powered magnets safety Factsheet


Magnets are objects that pull or push away different types of metal.

Magnets are common in homes and can be found in:

  • decorations like fridge magnets
  • toys
  • jewellery
  • computers
  • cabinets
  • furniture
  • appliances.

Some types of magnets are very small and have a much stronger force than what is allowed in other products that contain magnets. These are called small, high-powered magnets.

Small, high-powered magnets are: 

  • around 5mm wide
  • shiny or coloured
  • in the shape of a ball or other small shapes. 

They are often found in:

  • toys like coloured magnet balls used to build small sculptures
  • adult stress and fidget toys
  • jewellery that mimics face piercings.

Small, high-powered magnets can be dangerous for children and can cause serious injury when swallowed. 

The small size means it is likely that multiple pieces will be swallowed at any one time. 

The high power of the magnets means they can pull together inside the body with enough force to cause serious injury.

Small, high-powered magnets in face jewellery can also get stuck in the nose and cause damage.

 Signs and symptoms

There may not be any immediate signs or symptoms that your child has swallowed a high-powered magnet. Symptoms may take hours or days to develop and can include:

  • gagging or choking
  • drooling
  • abdominal or belly pain and discomfort
  • pain and discomfort around the face and airways
  • cramps
  • nausea and vomiting.

If you think your child has swallowed a small, high-powered magnet, you must act 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 how many magnets were swallowed and where they are in the body.


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

Injuries from small, high-powered magnets 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 small, high-powered magnets

Small, high-powered magnets are banned in Australia. They are commonly found in toys and jewellery bought from other countries or online.

You can prevent serious injuries from small, high-powered magnets by:

  • removing any small, high-powered magnets from your home
  • checking any toys or products for small, high-powered magnets before purchasing from other countries or online
  • not buying magnetic jewellery from other countries or online
  • talking to your child or teenager about why magnetic facial jewellery is dangerous.

You can keep your child safe from choking and injuries from other types of magnets by:

  • only buying magnet toys that are too big to fit in your child’s mouth
  • making sure magnets in toys are securely attached and unable to come loose
  • keeping magnetic toys away from very small children
  • throwing toys away as soon as a part or magnet becomes loose.

Standards and legislation for small, high-powered magnets

A permanent ban on small, high-powered magnets came into effect in November 2012. 

The ban applies to all separable or loose magnets that:

  • are small enough to fit into the small parts cylinder
  • have magnetic flux, the total magnetic field that passes through a given area, of 50 or more
  • are marketed as
    • a toy, game or puzzle
    • a construction or modelling kit
    • jewellery to be worn in or around the mouth or nose.

Consumer protection law states that all toys for children 36 months and under in Australia must comply with the Australian Standard AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2019 - Safety of toys. Part 1: Safety aspects related to mechanical and physical properties.

Last updated Tuesday 16th April 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