'Mother’s Kiss' Can Remove Objects From Kids' Noses

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on October 15, 2012
From the WebMD Archives

Oct. 15, 2012 -- Your young daughter places a bead, seed, or other object up her nose. (It happens as many parents know all too well!)

What do you do?

Who should you call?

New research suggests that a decades-old home remedy of sorts known as the “mother’s kiss” may do the trick. It’s also a lot less invasive or frightening than some of the tools and techniques used in emergency rooms.

What Is the “Mother’s Kiss”?

First described in 1965, here’s how the mother’s kiss technique works:

  • The parent or caretaker places their mouth over their child’s mouth while holding the unaffected nostril closed with one finger.
  • The parent or caretaker blows into the child’s mouth.
  • The breath may force the object out.

The new study analyzed results from eight published reports where caregivers used the mother’s kiss on children aged 1 to 8. All in all, the technique was effective with no complications. The success rate approached 60%. The findings appear in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

First, Do No Harm

Nina Shapiro, MD, of Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA in Los Angeles, says it is fairly common for young children to place items in their noses as well as in their ears and mouths.

“It can work,” she says of the mother's kiss. “It is more important that there were no adverse events such as bleeding or pushing the object further up the nostril.” According to the findings of this study, “the worst thing that can happen is that it doesn't work.”

Robert Glatter, MD, is cautious about where and when the mother’s kiss should be performed. He is an emergency medicine doctor at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Don’t try this without medical supervision, he says. “Children feel comfortable and are not threatened with this removal technique that we commonly utilize in the emergency department,” he says. It’s always best to do this in the presence of a doctor in case the object goes into the lungs. “This is rare, but could occur.”

If it works, there is no need for sedation or hooks, forceps, or suction to remove the objects.

In an emergency room, Glatter first finds out if parents are open to this approach. “The mom has to be brave,” he says. “Some parents want to try it and others are scared of it.”

Discuss the mother’s kiss with your pediatrician for specific instructions and safeguards.

Show Sources


Robert Glatter, MD, emergency medicine doctor, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City.

Cook, S. Canadian Medical Association Journal, published online Oct. 15, 2012.

Nina Shapiro, MD, director, pediatric otolaryngology, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Los Angeles.

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