Jennifer White told WTMJ that she initially thought her son, Beck, had the flu when he became ill after Christmas. But when he began throwing up dark liquid, she said she knew it was more serious.
An X-ray showed that Beck had swallowed magnets from a toy he received as a gift.
"He had swallowed 13 of them," White said. "He snapped them right open and started to ingest them."
She added: "And of course we had no idea."
Inside Beck's body, the magnets were drawn to each other, ripping holes in the lining of his intestines and wreaking havoc on his digestive system.
Thankfully, Beck is recovering after surgery to remove parts of his intestines at the Children's Hospital in Milwaukee.
But his mother has learned a lesson. "I really thought ... he would be OK. If I had an inkling that this would have happen I would have just got rid of [the magnets]."
The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against allowing young children to play with toys with small or loose magnets that can be easily swallowed.
To keep children safe, the group recommends that if you do buy a toy including loose magnets, make sure the set is small (fewer than 100 magnets), so you can keep track of any that go missing. Also, make sure to closely monitor children playing with such toys.
Signs that a child has eaten magnets can be difficult to spot as they are common to many ailments. They include abdominal pain, fever and vomiting. If you suspect a child has consumed a magnet, take your child for treatment immediately.