Written by Janie Leather, Medical Student at the University of Missouri
Babies are born curious. As they grow, they learn how to pick up things, bring objects to their mouth, chew, and swallow. As they develop these new skills, parents start to introduce new foods. Most guidelines suggest waiting until infants are 6 months old before introducing foods other than breast milk or formula. It is important to think about potential choking hazards during this time.
Here are two of the most important steps in preventing choking:
- Properly prepare food. Select the right foods for your young child and cut foods into smaller bites.
- Make sure small objects are put out of reach of children.
Common Choking Hazards
The chart belows show most common choking hazards in children. Be sure to properly prepare and cut fruits, vegetables, and meats. Avoid foods such as popcorn, gum, and hard candy which may cause your child to choke. Put small household objects away such as coins, buttons, marbles, pens, paper clips, and batteries. Supervise your child carefully when they play with balloons or objects with small loose parts.
|FOODS||SMALL HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS|
|Uncut grapes, cherries, berries||Coins|
|Uncut vegetables||Balloons or parts of a popped balloon|
|Chewing gum or mints||Marbles|
|Hard or sticky candy||Pen caps or paper clips|
|Hotdogs or large pieces of meat||Batteries or magnets|
What else can I do to prevent my child from choking?
Additional measures parents can take to prevent choking include having children sit up while eating, avoiding distractions while eating, watching children during meal times, and not letting children eat while in the car.
More resources about choking hazards can be found below:
- CDC Choking Hazards: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/infantandtoddlernutrition/foods-and-drinks/choking-hazards.html
- CDC Introducing Solid Foods: https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/foods-and-drinks/when-to-introduce-solid-foods.html
- American Academy of Pediatrics: https://publications.aap.org/pediatrics/article/125/3/601/72642/Prevention-of-Choking-Among-Children?autologincheck=redirected
- Nationwide Children’s Hospital: https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/health-wellness-and-safety-resources/education-store/choking-hazard-safety