Choking and Ingestion Hazards In Infants And Toddlers

Choking is the leading cause of injuries among young children and infants.  One child in the US dies from choking every five days, and 75% of deaths occur in children under three. Let’s look at common choking hazards in infants and toddlers and what parents can do to prevent it from happening.

Food Hazards

Young children are just beginning to learn how to eat, so parental supervision is critical. Anything that blocks their airway makes it hard to breathe.

The following are tips for parents to avoid food choking hazards:

  • Watch out particularly for grapes, hot dogs, hard sticky candy, popcorn, nuts and seeds, raisins, peanut butter, marshmallows, raisins, and raw veggies.
  • Cut your child’s food into very small pieces no larger than one half inch
  • Keep your child sitting while they eat. Walking and eating is a no-no.
  • Never give your children food in the car.

Always watch carefully as your child eats. Choking is silent and you won’t hear them. If they get something stuck in their little throats and you don’t notice, it only takes four minutes for them to develop brain damage or worse.

baby putting found plastic in her mouth

The CDC recommends every new parent learn CPR and the Heimlich maneuver for children in case of an emergency.

Toys And Household Item Hazards

Young ones are inquisitive, and for some reason like to put anything and everything in their mouth. As they begin to crawl and move around, there are any number of hazardous items they can discover.

Particularly hazardous are watch and hearing aid batteries (button batteries), magnets (especially buckyballs), and Tide pod/detergent pods. These are not just choking hazards, but more importantly are toxic and can cause bowel rupture and death. If a child ingests these things, call 911 right away. It is best not to have these items in your house or at least around your child.

It may sound silly, but pretend you are a toddler. Get down on your hand and knees and see your home from that perspective. Paper clips, tacks, and other small items that may have been dropped are all choking hazards. Do this exercise frequently!

Check under furniture and between cushions for anything small enough to fit into your child’s mouth. Especially be wary of coins, marbles, toys with small parts that can become loose, pen or marker caps, plastic water bottle caps, button batteries, hair barrettes, rubber bands, and latex balloons. Latex balloons can break, and small pieces become a major choking hazard.

Pay close attention to toy packages and the recommended ages.

Teach older siblings to keep their toys in a safe place where little brother or sister can’t get to them, especially small balls and other items they can fit into their mouth. Ask visitors and grandparents to be careful as well. Also keep a close eye on your child to make sure they are not finding items you might have missed. If you need to step away for a minute, put your child in a safe space like a crib.

Handling A Choking Incident

Administering rapid first aid for choking can save your child’s life. Call 911 and do CPR.  Parents are encouraged to enroll in a Basic Life Support class offered by the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association to learn more about choking prevention procedures and CPR for infants and children.

Contact Elmwood Pediatric Group to help you better understand the steps of CPR and identify additional dangerous foods and objects.

As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (585) 244-9720 today.

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