The Most Common Foods For Toddlers To Choke On

By Janelle Turk

August 15, 2019

I know first hand that there are so many things that we worry about as parents. Choking is definitely one of them. It is a common cause of injury and death in young children and is also recognized as one that is preventable. Choking and suffocation are responsible for almost 40% of unintentional injuries in infants under the age of one in Canada. For every choking related death, 110 are estimated to be treated in hospital. I’m not telling you these stats to scare the pants off you, but I want you to know that the risk is REAL! 

As parents we need to be prepared. We need to know what our babies and toddlers could potentially choke on, be aware of what foods we are feeding them and what toys and household items are around. It is also important that parents, grandparents or caregivers know what to do if one of our sweet babies choke. It is amazing how babies can find things to put in their mouths that we may not have noticed! They can pick up things off the floor quite quickly and love putting all kinds of things in their mouths. 

The most common item that babies and toddlers choke on is, FOOD. Young children choke more easily than adults because they have smaller airways that can become easily blocked. Babies take time to learn the skills involved with chewing and swallowing food. Babies and Toddlers also may not be able to cough with enough force to dislodge what they are choking on. 

There are many foods that pose a higher risk for choking, here are some: 

  • Hot Dogs 
  • Sausages 
  • Carrot sticks 
  • Whole grapes 
  • Cherry tomatoes 
  • Large pieces of fruit or vegetables 
  • Big chunks of meat, or tough meat 
  • Whole nuts 
  • Seeds 
  • Popcorn 
  • Chips 
  • Hard candy, taffy 
  • Bubble gum 
  • Marshmallows 
  • Peanut butter 

There are also items around the house to look out for as well: 

  • Batteries (lithium cell/button) 
  • Coins 
  • Marbles & other small balls 
  • Magnets 
  • Small toys, and big toys with small parts 
  • Beads & buttons 

How Can You Help Prevent Choking?

One way that you can help prevent choking is to wait until your baby is able to sit up in a high chair before introducing solids. Avoid high-risk foods and ensure any larger foods are cut into small pieces. Always supervise your child eating, and discourage walking/running/playing while eating.

Remind your child to chew and swallow before they try speaking. Keep an eye on how much your child is putting in their mouth at one time, if they are feeding themselves independently. As your child gets older don’t let them throw food up and try to catch it in their mouth as this can cause choking. If you have a multiple children it can be difficult to monitor the toys.

If you have older children, educate them on why they need to pick up their toys and put them in a safe spot when they aren’t playing with them, because they have a baby sister or brother. It may be beneficial to have a “safe” play area for your baby and toddlers where there are never any small toys allowed and it is separate from your older children’s play areas. 

Be Educated

The reality is that sometimes no matter how much we try to prevent accidents, they happen. It is so important for parents and caregivers to be prepared with the knowledge of what to do if a baby or child chokes. Find a CPR and choking Class and educate yourself!

Reach out to a Mama Coach near you to do a CPR & Choking workshop for you and your family, in your home! It is so easy for us to think “It’ll never happen to me”, and I sincerely hope it never will, but knowing what to do for your child can make all the difference in the world if the worst ever did happen. 

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