Tips for Preventing Choking

If you are a parent or a care giver of an infant or child under 4 years old, follow these tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Red Cross, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the chances of choking.

At Mealtime

  • Insist that your children eat at the table, or at least sitting down. Watch young children while they eat.  Encourage them to eat lowly and chew their food well.
  • Cut up foods that are firm and round and can get stuck in your child’s airway, such as:
    • hotdogs – always cut hotdogs length- wise and then into small pieces
    • grapes – cut them into quarters
    • raw vegetables – cut them into quarters
  • Other foods that can pose a choking hazard include:
    • hard or sticky candy, like whole peppermints or caramels
    • nuts and seeds (don’t give peanuts to children under age 7)
    • popcorn
    • spoonful’s peanut butter

During Playtime

  • Follow the age recommendations of toy packages. Any toy that is small enough to fit trough a 1 1/4 inch circle or is smaller than 2 1/4 inches long is unsafe for children under 4 years old.
  • Don’t allow young children to play with toys designed for older children. Teach older children to put their toys away as soon as they finish playing so young siblings can’t get them.
  • Frequently check under furniture and between cushions for dangerous items young children could find, including:
  1. coins
  2. marbles
  3. watch batteries (the ones that look like buttons)
  4. pen or marker caps
  5. cars with small rubber wheels that come off
  6. small balls or foam balls that can be compressed to a size small enough to fit in a child’s mouth
  • Never allow your child play with or chew on un-inflated or broken latex balloons. Many young children have died from swallowing or inhaling them.
  • Don’t let your small child play on bean bag chairs made with small foam pellets. If the bag opens or rips, the child could inhale these tiny pieces.

If you are a parent, grandparent, or other care giver, learn how to help a choking child and how perform CPR in case of an emergency.