Things Kids Choke On

For small children under 1 year, choking is the leading cause of accidental death. Parents are more aware of the dangers of choking for infants and children under four years old. Choking is a risk for any age when play or exercise is combined with eating. Certain foods such as nuts, popcorn, grapes, carrots, hard candies, hot dogs, or gum are potentially greater risks for choking.

Children under three to four years of age are not yet ready to grind their food with their molars. They use a shearing or biting action which can shoot the food backward into the airway or “windpipe.” This can interfere with air entering the lungs and can be fatal. Hot dogs and grapes should be eaten cautiously after peeling and chopping into small pieces.

Toys can be dangerous, too. Inspect toy boxes carefully. The recommended ages written on the box are a guide to the safety of that item. A toy may be safe for an older sister in the same home but totally unsafe for a younger brother. Manufacturers base recommended ages on the sizes of the toy pieces. Large pieces that are too big to block the throat will be safe for younger children. Toys sold at swap meets may not be marked with the age that can safely play with the toys. These toys are safety hazards and should purchase with caution. Items that frequently cause problems are: watch batteries, buttons, coins, jacks, safety pins, and balloons.

Warning signs of choking are: unable to talk or make a noise, turning blue, gagging, sudden breathing difficulty or high pitched voice. If a second person is present, call 9-1-1. Do not try to dislodge the object if your child is coughing. Coughing is the best defense against blockage of the airway.

Consumer Product Safety Commission is the online location to research your questions on toys safety issues.