PARENTS tend to be very careful about the food they give their children.
But when your little ones explore the world around them, chances are they do so by putting things in their mouths.
Sometimes these objects are so small that your child swallows them, causing choking.
And often you are not even aware that these objects could pose a danger to you.
“We often remember crushing grapes and the dangers of button batteries,” explains the pediatric nurse team behind it CPR children – a baby and first aid education site – wrote in a recent article post.
“But the truth is, there are many things in the home that parents and caregivers might not think of as potential choking hazards for little ones,” they said.
The medics have listed as many as 24 items and foods you likely have at home that could pose a choking risk to your child.
Many of these may not have caught your eye or you may have overlooked them because they are tucked away in corners you can’t normally see.
- ear plug – “These are popping up everywhere,” said CPR Kids
- bottle caps
- small magnets
- stones and pebbles
- chewing gum and mints
- hair clips
- spoon of nut paste
- animal feed – especially dry dog food
- children toys, like little Lego pieces
- doll accessories
- sausages and hot dogs – “Cut them into quarters,” said CPR Kids
- Marshmallows – You should tear it into small pieces
- Popcorn – Avoid until your child is five years old
- whole nuts – Do not give it to your child until they are five years old
- raw apple and carrot – Cut these into sticks
- bouncy balls
If you want to prevent your little one from choking, there are four words to keep in mind.
These are the four S’s of choking prevention, according to CPR Kids.
1. Form of food
It’s important to think about what type of food size and shape your little one will be comfortable eating.
“Cutting food into developmentally appropriate sizes is key to avoiding choking hazards,” wrote CPR Kids.
“Round foods like grapes, cherry tomatoes and large blueberries are the perfect shape to lodge in a toddler’s airway and should be cut into quarters, while cylindrical foods like bananas, sausages and carrots should be cut into sticks,” they added.
For young children, avoid foods like popcorn, marshmallows, hard candies, and whole nuts.
2. Sit down to eat
According to caregivers, the risk of choking increases when a child walks around with food or another object in their mouth.
Getting together to eat together is a seemingly simple solution, but not only does it reduce the risk of choking, it also promotes bonding.
Even snack time applied to this rule.
“Encourage your toddler to sit down while snacking (which is easier said than done, right?),” the medics wrote.
3. Supervise when eating
If you turn your back for a moment or quickly jump into another room, your child risks choking.
You’d think you’d hear when something happens, but “choking can be silent,” CPR Kids pointed out.
“Always keep them in your direct line of sight while they’re eating so you can be alert and intervene quickly if a choking accident occurs,” they advise.
4. Search your home
First responders have previously revealed a nifty trick you can use to tell if an object or food poses a choking hazard to your child, which surprisingly turns out to be a toilet paper roll.
“Anything that fits through a cardboard toilet paper tube poses a choking hazard to small children,” wrote CPR Kids.
They also advised you to “get on your hands and knees and crawl through your house” to look for stray items you may have missed.
“It gives you a better perspective of what your child is seeing [and] what small objects are within reach,” they explained.
But the doctors emphasized: “Above all, remember that accidents can still happen – know the first aid for suffocation so that you can help your child with confidence in an emergency.”
What to do if your child chokes
For parents, imagining a situation where they have to save their child from choking is the worst nightmare.
But at this moment you may have to intervene and provide first aid yourself.
The NHS says if you see an object in your child’s mouth you should be careful to remove it as blind prodding could make the situation worse.
If the child coughs, encourage them to keep coughing as they may be able to pick up the object – don’t leave them alone.
If the cough has no effect (it’s silent or the person can’t breathe properly), call for help right away.
If the child is still conscious, apply back blows.
First responders at St. John Ambulance provide the following advice based on the age of the child.
- knock it out:
- Place the baby face down on your thigh and support his head
- Perform five back punches between the shoulder blades
- Turn her over and check her mouth each time
2. Express it:
- Turn the baby face up and support him on your thigh
- Place two fingers in the middle of her chest, just below the nipple line. Push down for up to five powerful chest thrusts
- Check your mouth every time
3. If the item does not detach, call 999 or 112 for assistance
- Take the baby with you when you call
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 until help arrives
- Start CPR if baby becomes unresponsive (loses consciousness)
1. Cough it up
- If possible, encourage the victim to continue coughing
2. Blow it out
- Lean them forward and support them with one hand
- Perform five powerful back punches between the shoulder blades
- Check her mouth each time, but don’t put your fingers in her mouth
3. Push it out
- Stand behind him, arms around his waist, with a clenched fist between his belly button and the bottom of his chest
- With the other hand, grasp the fist and pull it in and up vigorously, performing up to five abdominal thrusts
- Check her mouth every time
4. Call 999 or 112 for emergency assistance if the object does not detach
- Repeat steps 2 and 3 until help arrives
- Start CPR if person is unresponsive (unconscious)
5. Always seek medical advice when using abdominal thrusts
All children are at risk of choking, especially children under the age of three.
Signs your baby is choking
There are some signs to look out for to tell if your baby is choking.
- not being able to breathe, cry, or cough
- I have a red, swollen face
- showing signs of distress
But a child might:
- have difficulty breathing, speaking or coughing
- I have a red, swollen face
- They are showing signs of distress and may be pointing at their throats or grabbing their necks