Babies and toddlers are notorious for sticking everything into their mouths. Unfortunately, choking has been one of the leading causes of injury and death in children under four-years-old for decades now.
One of the biggest choking hazards, isn’t toys or other knick-knacks that a child might pick up. It’s actually food they swallow whole rather than chewing up. Let’s talk about the foods that need to be avoided (or at least that you need to be careful with) and what to do in the event of a choking incident.
Foods that need to be carefully supervised for children under 4
The main problem with children choking is they don’t fully chew their food, leaving larger pieces they then try to swallow whole. If a food item is round and hard, it can slip down into the windpipe and completely block the airway.
Additionally, food that is sticky and gooey (such as candy or marshmallows) can be difficult to chew which can lead to a choking hazard. If you have a young child (under 4), you need to either avoid these foods, or cut them up into extra small pieces no bigger than half an inch:
- Hot dogs
- Nuts and seeds
- Peanut butter
Supervision is key for young children and certain foods
When you’re feeding a small child, it’s important to supervise them. Don’t allow your toddler to walk around and eat. They should be seated and paying attention to what they’re doing. (A little kid can’t multi-task, so walking and eating at the same time can be dangerous – and messy!)
The real danger is that it only takes four minutes for a child to die from choking and even less time for permanent brain damage to set in. Be really cautious during these first years even while you are in the front seat driving, your child could be choking in the back seat.
What should I do if my child begins choking?
As hard as this may sound, stay calm. Freaking out takes away precious time and can keep you from focusing on the necessary steps to take.
Call 911 immediately and tell them that you have a choking child. Even if you dislodge the food, they can still come take a look at your child to make sure they are OK.
Be prepared by taking a CPR class with your local Red Cross or health organization. This will teach you the proper way to do the Heimlich maneuver on an infant or young child.
Choking is not something to play around with. Pay special attention to the types of foods your child eats and if you have any concerns, skip it and feed them something else. You can also be sure to help them with their digestion by cutting food into very small pieces for easy chewing.
Be Prepared for life’s curveballs!
Bumps, bruises and owies – oh my! Parenthood is never boring. Be prepared with a first aid kit designed exclusively with you and your kids in mind. Check out PreparaKit.com for kits and tools created for busy parents who want to be ready for the unexpected.