Preventing Choking in Little Ones
Even very experienced parents may unwittingly give their young child something that is easy to choke on. It happens – you just aren’t thinking.
I never thought twice about giving banana slices or grapes to my toddlers. It’s healthy, right?
Little ones can choke more easily on food than older children and adults for a variety of reasons. They have less experience with food and can take larger bites than they can handle, for one thing.
Believe it or not, choking is a common cause of death in children under age one, and parents are cautioned to be vigilant through age five or so.
Kids don’t have mastery over the grinding motion it takes to chew up things like raw vegetables until age four! Hard, smooth foods require that kind of chewing, the child is more likely to swallow the food whole. That’s one of those developmental stage details that parents rarely hear about.
You probably don’t need to go overboard, but do use common sense when feeding your child.
Some things to avoid are:
- Any large piece of food should be avoided. Doctors suggest that foods be cut into dime sized pieces or smaller.
- Gum and hard candies are on the no-no list.
- Hot dogs are not a good idea because kids may take too large of a bite and the slippery hot dog can slip down their throat.
- Marshmallows dissolve into a sticky mass that can block breathing. It used to be common in Kid’s Church to play a game where older kids had to stuff as many marshmallows as they could in their mouths and say a scripture. That is so dangerous; don’t do it.
- Nuts should be chopped.
- Peanut butter is thick and sticky – hard to manage for little ones.
- Popcorn is coarse and easily swallowed whole.
- Raw fruits and vegetables should not be given to children under one unless they are very soft and cut small. Other fruit and vegetables can be steamed until they are soft and then cut up for your child.
Of course, eating should be done in the high chair or at the table where you can supervise easily. Plus, eating at the table is a good habit for kids to develop from a young age.
As tempting as it may be to let them snack in the car seat on the way to the store or whatever, it is important that you don’t cave to the temptation.
Even small, normally “safe” foods can be a problem if you have to stop fast; plus, you are concentrating on the road and you may not be aware that your child is choking until it is too late. Give them juice in a sippy cup if they must have something while you drive.
Food isn’t the only thing that can cause choking accidents. Let’s face it – babies put every single thing in their mouths. If you overlook something on the floor, you can be pretty sure that they will find it in record time and pop it in their mouths before you can get across the room.
If you’ve had a party, dispose of those balloons quickly. Deflated or broken balloon pieces can cause serious choking problems.
Basically, you just need to remember to be aware of what goes into your kids’ mouths and use caution and common sense.