Watching your children grow and learn new things is always a joy. As a parent you want to protect them from harm, but it can be challenging when they start exploring their environment more independently.
One of the most important things you must remember is choking hazards for babies and young children. Choking is a serious issue and can be very dangerous for babies and toddlers. When shopping for groceries, it can be easy to forget that some common foods are choking hazards. You might not realize your child is at risk of choking on certain foods until they start eating them.
What is a choking hazard?
Any food that is small enough to fit inside a child’s mouth is considered a choking hazard. Foods that are hard, sticky, or round can be more likely to get stuck in the airway. Smooth and slippery foods are also dangerous because they don’t break down easily if they get lodged in the throat.
The smaller a child is, the more likely they will choke on certain foods. Babies learning to eat may also have trouble chewing and swallowing certain types of food, making them most susceptible to choking hazards.
Knowing which foods are likely to cause choking is important for a parent. If your child is just learning to eat solid foods, stick with soft and easy-to-chew foods. You can also talk with your doctor about what foods are safe for young children.
Seven common choking hazards for babies and toddlers
Hard candy is a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. They’re small enough to get stuck in your child’s throat, causing serious problems. Hard candy isn’t recommended for children under 3 years old because they might be unable to chew or swallow it properly.
If you want to give your baby hard candies, make sure they’re small enough to swallow and won’t get stuck down their throat.
Peanut butter is another choking hazard you should avoid giving to your baby or toddler. Peanut butter tends to stick in their throat, which can cause choking and other issues. If your child does choke on peanut butter, try to get it out as quickly as possible by having them cough and swallow water.
It’s hard to believe that food as small as grapes can pose a choking hazard, but it’s true. Grapes are the number one choking hazard for children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Hot dogs are a choking hazard for babies and toddlers, so you should avoid feeding them to your baby or toddler. If it’s your child’s favorite, you can cut hot dogs into smaller pieces and cook them in a way that makes them less likely to be a choking hazard.
However, even if you cut hot dogs into small pieces and cook them well (e.g., boiling or steaming), they’re still not recommended as one of the healthiest foods for your baby or toddler because they are high in salt, fat, and calories.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts are a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. Check the nuts before serving them to your baby or toddler—they should be large enough that he cannot swallow them whole but not so big that they may get stuck in his throat. Do not give nuts to infants under 6 months old because their bodies aren’t ready yet.
Popcorn is a choking hazard for babies and toddlers. It can get stuck in the throat and cause an obstruction, which can be life-threatening. For this reason, you shouldn’t feed your baby or toddler popcorn. If it’s your child’s favorite, you can cut the kernels into smaller pieces and cook them in a way that makes them less likely to be a choking hazard.
Raw vegetables are a choking hazard, but they can be an important part of your baby’s diet. When you give your baby raw vegetables, cut them into small pieces and feed them one at a time. If you’re giving your child cucumber sticks, make sure they are cut very thin so they can be easily chewed. Cooked vegetables are fine for babies who are 6 months or older. You can also puree cooked vegetables (like potatoes or carrots) with breast milk or formula for easy digestion.
Tips that can help prevent your child from choking
Supervise your child when they’re eating. It’s the easiest way to prevent your child from eating a choking hazard. Encourage them to eat at the table, with utensils and a plate like yours. If you can’t be near them for their entire meal, put them in a high chair or booster seat and keep an eye on them while they eat.
Don’t let your child walk around while eating. They can’t chew and swallow properly while they’re walking. Don’t let them jump around, either, because this can cause the piece of food to become a choking risk and blow back up into their mouth, resulting in their choking again.
Make sure that your baby or toddler is chewing their food thoroughly. You can tell if they are by looking at their mouth and watching for movement in their cheeks. If you notice that there isn’t any movement for a few minutes, then it’s time to take the food out of their mouth. The longer the food stays in their mouth, the more it’ll become a choking hazard.
Use a soft rubber teething ring if your baby has sensory gagging during mealtime. This will allow them to chew on something while eating and help them get used to chewing food rather than just swallowing it whole.
Consider using a straw. If your baby or toddler eats purees, consider using a straw during mealtimes. This will allow them to suck on something while eating and help them get used to something other than just swallowing it whole.
The most important thing to remember about choking hazards for toddlers is that prevention is the best tool. You can take steps to reduce your child’s risk of choking by keeping him or her away from small objects and making sure they use safety equipment when playing with toys and other items. If you have any questions about your child’s health or the safety of a product, consult with a medical professional at once.