It happens to the best of them, somehow, one way or another, a surprising number of children end up with things stuck in their noses. Whether it’s a button or a bead, a Polly Pocket purse or a pea, kids’ endless curiosity and lack of thinking things through often results in foreign objects being lodged firmly in the nasal cavity. 


There is usually blowing and prodding and general worry, followed by a trip to the doctor or emergency room to expel that which in embedded. But there’s a little-known at-home technique called the “mother’s kiss” that has been found effective in nearly six out of ten cases of things-stuck-in-the-nose. And now, a systematic review of case reports confirms that the mother's kiss is a useful and safe go-to option for the removal of things that just don't belong in nasal cavities.


“It is actually neat and very safe,” said Cook, lead author of a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.  “In my opinion, the [mother's kiss] is under-used, not just in the ear, nose, and throat world, but in emergency departments and among general practitioners.”


As described in the study, the technique works by having the parent or caregiver place their mouth over the child’s open mouth forming a firm seal. While blocking the unaffected nostril with a finger, the adult blows until they feel the resistance caused by closure of the child’s glottis, at which point the adult gives a sharp exhalation to deliver a short puff of air into the child’s mouth. This puff of air passes through the nasopharynx, out through the unoccluded nostril and, if successful, results in the expulsion of the foreign body.


Potential problems, namely the risk of aspiration of the object, means that foreign bodies should be removed from the nose in a timely fashion. Given the alternatives – hooks, nasal forceps, suction, balloon catheters, cyanoacrylate glue, and various positive-pressure techniques – a simple mother’s kiss sounds like just what the doctor should order.