Choking is a real danger for children, especially for young infants. Babies are vulnerable because they have small airways. Aside from that, they haven’t mastered chewing and swallowing yet. They may not also have the reflexes that we have — such as coughing and gagging — that can prevent choking.
A lot can cause choking. Little babies are fond of exploring their environment by putting things like small household items in their mouth. Even innocent-looking foods can pose a choking risk to your baby, so it’s important to always be vigilant 24/7.
But what are the things in particular that you should watch out for? Here are 10 choking hazards that you should keep away from babies and children under 4 years old.
1. Small items like coins and buttons
Beware of the small items that you can find inside your bag and anywhere at home such as coins and loose buttons. These are rather attractive to exploring little hands and can block your child’s airway when swallowed.
2. Small toys and toys with small parts like batteries
You should also practice utmost vigilance and discrimination when buying toys. Avoid small toys that can fit in your baby’s mouth. Also avoid toys with small parts such as buttons, removable parts, and batteries. Steer clear of cheaply made toys that can break easily, too. Instead, go for soft toys made of high quality material like cotton.
Latex balloons pose a serious choking risk when broken or deflated. Accidents happen when a child sucks or chews on a balloon. Because of the latex balloon’s texture, it can easily get sucked into the child’s throat and lungs. Aside from that, the stretchiness of balloons can cause them to mold to a child’s throat, blocking the airway completely.
Hotdogs are a common party food, but you should never give your little child a whole one. The cylindrical shape of hotdogs make it easy for the child to swallow it without chewing and can block the throat. If your child wants a hotdog, cut it lengthwise and then into small pieces.
5. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and healthy oils, but they are dangerous to little children. Not every child can chew and grind food properly; instead, they may swallow hard food items like nuts and seeds whole, causing them to choke.
6. Meat and cheese
Like nuts and seeds, meat and cheese are essential for growth and development, but they should never be given in big chunks. To prevent choking, always cut meat and cheese into strips or tiny bites that babies and toddlers can manage.
7. Small whole fruits like grapes
While you can definitely give your baby or toddler fruits, make sure that it is prepared properly. Any fruit should be sliced into bite-sized pieces. As for small whole fruits like grapes and cherries, remove the skin and cut them in quarters.
8. Hard candy and popcorn
Hard candy and popcorn should be avoided at all costs. The size of candy and popcorn is perfect for blocking the airway. Aside from that, candies can easily be swallowed whole because of its smooth and slippery texture, while popcorn can stick to the throat.
9. Gum, taffy, and marshmallow
It may seem like these soft alternatives to candy are better, but they are actually not. Soft sweets like taffy, gum, and marshmallow are notorious for molding into the child’s throat and blocking the airway completely.
10. Peanut butter
Yes, even something as harmless as peanut butter can be a choking hazard! Similar to taffy, peanut butter can easily mold and stick to your child’s throat. Avoid giving sizable chunks of peanut butter to your child; instead, it’s better to spread it thinly.
Common household items and foods that are usually found in our kitchen and pantry pose a serious threat to babies and toddlers who are vulnerable to choking. It is crucial to pay close attention to your child, and with this list, know the common choking hazards you should avoid.