Choking Risks for Toddlers: How to Be Prepared

smiling doctor

I will never forget that moment. Rarely does a doctor, or anyone else, get to do something so dramatic that saves a life. This boy was a little older than a toddler, but not old enough to know not to put a coin into his mouth. This could happen to anyone’s child.

Do not use a lot of peanut butter when preparing food for toddlers, and give children plenty of fluids to help wash food down.

Toddlers, in particular, enjoy putting things into their mouths. This means that toddlers can choke on small objects – usually food – but also toys, coins, and even balloons.

Of accidental deaths (also called unintentional deaths) in children less than five years old, choking is the fourth most common cause. Not all choking is fatal, and not all children who choke get medical care. The information on choking usually comes from instances where a child was affected enough to visit to a doctor’s office or emergency room.

It is estimated that more than 10,000 children are seen in emergency departments every year for choking because of food; however, there are many more who choke on other things.

Prevention of Choking
Prevention of choking in toddlers means trying to keep them from getting their hands on food, household objects, and toys that are the size and shape that can choke them. Anything that is round in shape and similar in size to the child’s windpipe can enter and get stuck there. The size of a toddler’s windpipe can be compared to that of a drinking straw. Clearly, there is not a lot of room there.

Common foods that cause choking include, but are not limited to:

  • Hot dog pieces (especially round)
  • Pieces of cut-up vegetables, like carrots
  • Grapes, cherries
  • Peanuts, nuts, seeds
  • Popcorn
  • Smaller candies, like jelly beans and M & M’s
  • Cubes of cheese, cubes of ice
  • Gum

Very sticky food, like peanut butter, can actually choke a child too. Do not use a lot of peanut butter when preparing food for toddlers, and give children plenty of fluids to help wash food down.

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Choking Risks for Toddlers: How to Be Prepared

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7 comments

  1. mommy nhoj says:

    This scares me! But very helpful reminder.

  2. LIZ says:

    im so afraid of this, i vacuum every day

  3. Rebecca says:

    I did not know all of these objects that can be choking hazards. Thank you for getting me thinking about this topic.

  4. shawn says:

    very good article knew how to perform the hemlick but gave me a "refresher course" i also learned hot dogs are very bad for a toddler does this mean sausage as well?my boy loves him some jimmy dean with his scrambled eggs ugh help

  5. monsue87 says:

    Every parent needs to know what to do when a child is choking. It may not be your child that needs help.

  6. TonyHowarth says:

    A good overview of the topic, but I can’t tell how long ago it was written. It’s now accepted practice (at least here in BC, Canada) to use back blows before trying the abdominal compressions. However this practice comes in & out of favour, so keep up to date with a course like the author says!

    As a Red Cross instructor, I’ve written some more about back blows and provided a free PDF on choking at the link below. Hope you never need it!

    http://blog.sea2skyservices.com/2012/12/20/choking-at-christmas/

  7. Hipmom808 says:

    Great article. This is one of my worst fears.When I was small I choked on spaghetti and a big gum ball. Both times my mom had to do the hymlic remover on me. So scary!

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