Children under the age of 5 are at high risk for choking. 75% of deaths from choking occur before age 3. You should move any hazardous items out of your child’s reach and always supervise your child at meal times.
In addition to removing choking hazards from your child’s space, take a CPR class that includes infant and child CPR. This can be the difference between life and death for your child. When my daughter was 7 months old, she choked on a blackberry (which had obviously not been cut small enough for her). I was beyond thankful that I had taken an infant CPR class and was able to dislodge the blackberry with the Heimlich maneuver in about 30 seconds. I shudder to think what might have happened otherwise.
Below are some common choking hazards look out for, but this is by no means a comprehensive list. The general rule is that any item that can fit in a toilet paper tube is a choking hazard.
Choking Hazards: Food
First, you should be closely supervising your child at mealtime. Do not let them eat while playing or walking or while riding in the car (this is easier said than done, but try to do this as much as possible). Allow them to eat at their own pace, and be sure to cut foods that might be a choking hazard. Some common foods to look out for are:
- Hot dogs
- Nuts & seeds
- Peanut butter or any food that is sticky
- Whole grapes
- Lollipops, hard candy and sticky candy
- Grapes, blackberries, raspberries
Choking Hazards: Other Household Objects
As you’ve probably already found out, kids love to stick things in their mouths. Common household objects that you might not think your child would necessarily eat can pose a choking risk. Here are a few examples:
- Latex balloons and plastic bags (these can get caught in the airway and are difficult to disloge with a cough)
- Pens or marker caps
- Small toys, toys parts or toys that can be compressed into a small shape
- Button batteries
- Hair barettes
Choking Hazards: Recommended Products
Honestly, if you have a toilet paper roll in your house, you don’t really need any choking-related products. If you think an item might be a choking hazard, simply see if it fits in a toilet paper tube. If it does, remove it from your child’s reach.
If you want to go the extra mile, you can purchase the Safety 1st Small Object Choking Tester. This can be a helpful item if you have an older child who has toys with small parts. You can sit this in the playroom and let your older child test their toys in it. It’s a little more durable than a toilet paper roll (and certainly looks better).
- Accurate tester for potential choking hazards
- Unnecessary if you are OK using a toilet paper tube