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According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, choking is the leading cause of mortality in children under the age of three.
While any small items, like toys and coins, can present a choking hazard, food is also a major cause. The AAP says that 1 child dies every 5 days due choking on food. (source)
This is super scary for parents. Your child has to eat for nourishment, after all. So how can we reduce the risk? Monitoring your young child while he or she eats is one important way. Avoiding the main foods that pose a choking hazard is another.
Here are common foods that can present a problem. Keep in mind that there may be others. Supervision and CPR training are recommended.
These are so healthy for baby, right?! Yes, carrots are a nutrient-packed food. Don’t worry-you can still feed your baby carrots. Just make sure to cook and mash them or shred them very finely if given raw. Carrots are a hard food when not cooked and even small, uncooked pieces can get stuck in Baby’s little throat.
Because they are round and easy to grab, Baby may be tempted to swallow them whole. This is no good. Be sure to cut grapes in half to ensure that they can slip down babies throat easily even if he or she does not chew well.
A great lycopene boost for babies, cherry tomatoes seem like an easy grab and go option. But, like grapes, they are round and tempt baby to swallow whole. Cut in half, or even quarters for the larger ones, to be safe.
Sticking with the round theme, it can be fun to use a baller to make round pieces of watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew. Babies love melons! But, again, these are too easy to swallow whole unintentionally. Feel free to make those balls. Just cut the balls in half or quarters afterwards before presenting to Baby.
Celery is another food that is healthy but can be dangerous. Cut celery into very, very small pieces. The strings can irritate the throat when given in larger chunks. Even better, cook the celery to be safer. Celery is best left for babies 8 months old and older. See Celery For Baby, Baby Food 101.
Apples, like carrots, are also be a hard food. You have two options: cut them up in very small, manageable pieces or cook them. You can make delicious applesauce for baby and avoid the sugar-filled, store bought brands.
Nuts are not a good shape for baby’s little mouth. They also have a dry texture which can dry out the throat and cause a choking issue. Experts do not recommend introducing nuts to babies under 24 months, not only because of choking hazard but also the allergy potential.
So far this list has been healthy, natural foods, but let’s not forget about the treats. Marshmallows are soft so they seem safe, but they can easily get lodged in your baby’s throat. It’s best just to avoid them with younger children.
It is also important to train yourself as a parent in CPR and First Aid, just in case. We recommend getting trained by a professional. The Red Cross that offers classes often. You can check online for class times and fees.
CPR Kids TV has a video to get you started:
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