Choking is a leading cause of death in children. Parents and caregivers should know and discuss the dangers of choking and identify some common choking hazards for children. Here is some advice from expert sources.
When Children Begin to Experience Solid Food
Your baby is growing better at eating by the time they are a year old and may even be able to feed themselves. Although your child can now eat most foods, some will still pose a choking risk. The manner in which food is cooked could make choking more likely. As an illustration, certain meals that are presented whole, undercooked, or in specific forms or sizes may pose choking hazards. Food can be mashed and cut into smaller pieces to assist prevent choking. (CDC, 2022)
For Children Under 4 Years of Age
- Children under the age of four should not be given any solid, round foods unless they have been sliced into extremely little bits. Grapes should be quartered and hot dogs should be chopped lengthwise. This alters the potentially harmful circular form that could obstruct a child’s throat.
- Other high-risk items, such as hard sweets, nuts, seeds, and raw carrots, should not be given to toddlers.
- Never allow young kids to play, run, or lie down while they are eating.
- Always keep little objects, such as coins, out of young children’s reach.
- Before giving them toys, carefully read the warning labels on those products. Use a small parts test tool, which is accessible at many toy retailers, to determine whether a toy part is too small.
- In addition, parents and other adults who are responsible for children should be trained in CPR and first aid for choking.
(Science Daily, 2010)
Special Attention to Button Batteries
A child who has accidentally consumed a battery will go to the emergency room every three hours. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, button battery ingestions have actually gradually increased since 2009, with 6,000 annual emergency visits across the US (AAP).
Remote controls, thermometers, clocks, calculators, hearing aids, flashlights, toys, and even singing greeting cards all need these tiny, coin-shaped batteries. These batteries would not at first glance appear to be a choking risk, but they can become stuck in a child’s upper airway after ingestion and result in significant tissue damage in as little as two hours. Additionally, it is simple for these batteries to get stuck in a child’s nostrils or ears.
Even after being taken out of the device they are powering, button batteries containing lithium continue to have a strong current. An alkalizing reaction that occurs when saliva and the battery come into touch can erode through a child’s esophagus, resulting in severe injury or even death. (Texas Children’s Hospital)
If an open electronic gadget with a dead battery is discovered close to your child, call Poison Control’s battery ingestion hotline (1-800-498-8666) for advice and proceed right away to the emergency room of your closest hospital for additional assessment. In advance, save this number on your phone. (Texas Children’s Hospital)
So, when it comes to choking hazards and children, the best rule of thumb is to use your best judgment. If a food looks like it could cause choking, it probably should not be given to young children. To err on the side of caution, always cut solid foods into small pieces and never give hard candy or gum to children under the age of four.
With a little bit of knowledge and awareness, you can help keep your children safe from choking hazards.
“Choking Hazards.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Feb. 2022, www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/choking-hazards.html.
“Choking Is a Leading Cause of Injury and Death among Children.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 28 Feb. 2010, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100226212559.htm.
“The Dangers of Button Battery Ingestion.” Texas Children’s Hospital, www.texaschildrens.org/blog/dangers-button-battery-ingestion.