How to prevent your kid from choking

Watching a child gasping for breath is one of the most frightening things imaginable. Knowing their pain is probably your doing is numbing.

Young children love to put things in their mouths. Every year more than 17,000 children are taken to the emergency room for choking related incidents. Eight out of ten of these are under four years old. Sadly, according to Science Daily, one child dies every five days because of choking on food.

In this blog we’ll look at the common items that cause choking and seven do’s and don’ts that will cut the risk of your child (or one in your care) from choking.

Why are children so at risk of choking?

We’ve all swallowed something that has gone ‘down the wrong direction’, but with children the danger is far more severe. Their throats are smaller, and their impulse reactions haven’t fully developed. The younger the child, the more at risk they are to choke. Not only because they haven’t yet learned what is safe to swallow, but also because they are so inquisitive. Give a baby a toy and it goes straight to their mouth.

Dangerous foods

The majority of choking incidents involve food. The most dangerous list includes some that you probably wouldn’t imagine could be fatal. The American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following as its top ten choking foods:

  • Hot dogs
  • Hard candy
  • Chewing gum
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Chunks of meat or cheese
  • Whole grapes
  • Popcorn
  • Chunks of peanut butter
  • Raw vegetables
  • Raisins

Dangerous objects

Dangerous objects are more easily recognized. Here are the top ten choking objects and toys:

  • Coins
  • Buttons
  • Marbles
  • Small balls
  • Deflated balloons
  • Watch batteries
  • Jewelry
  • Ballpoint pen caps and paper clips
  • Arts and crafts supplies
  • Small toys and toys with small detachable parts

Preventing children from choking – the seven do’s and don’ts

Whenever you give something to young children to eat, always stay with them and keep an eye on them. With this golden rule in mind, stick to these do’s and don’ts:

  1. Do cut all firm round foods into small pieces for children under four years old. Cut grapes into quarters, and slice hotdogs lengthways.
  2. Don’t let children run with food in their mouths. Don’t let them lie down either. Children should sit and eat, not eat and play.
  3. Don’t give toddlers any of the high-risk foods from the list above.
  4. Do keep small items, coins, pens and batteries away from children at all times. A locked cabinet is the best storage place.
  5. Do check if toys or toy parts are removable and too small.
  6. Do always read warning labels – know what you are handing to children in your charge.

And finally:

  1. Do learn the first aid for choking and CPR. You never know when you’ll need the skill to save a life.

As a parent, grandparent, or caregivers, it’s in your power to help get the number of choking incidents reduced. Wouldn’t it be great if together we could prevent many unnecessary deaths every year?

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