Do you know which baby foods pose the highest risk of choking to young children? Some of them may surprise you. Make sure to learn which foods are dangerous and keep them off the menu until your child is old enough and has the right teeth and skill to chew them properly.
The AAP has identified ten foods that are the top food choking hazards for children under 4 years old. Most choking incidents involve food, although luckily most of them are not fatal. The risk is not worth taking, however, so make sure that you and everyone who cares for your children knows what these foods are, and avoids them or takes the right precautions when serving them.
The Top Ten Choking Hazard Foods
While some of these might be obvious, others may not have occurred to you. The ten foods most likely to cause choking are as follows:
- Hot Dogs: Their round shape can easily lodge in a child’s small airway, and they are too heavy to easily cough out. Hot dogs can be served, but should be cut up into small bites by quartering each round slice carefully.
- Nuts and seeds: These may seem obvious to some people, but remember that it isn’t just a bowl of nuts that pose the risk. Nuts and seeds can appear in all kinds of baked goods, so keep an eye out for them
- Chunks of meat or cheese: Meat should be cooked thoroughly and served in very small bites. Cheese is best sliced thin or even shredded, and never served in cubes.
- Whole grapes: The skin can be very hard to break through, especially without teeth. Grapes should be cut into quarters before serving.
- Hard, sticky candy: This one isn’t all that surprising to most people, and you might never think of giving your baby hard candy – but make sure well-meaning grandparents and others know the rule as well. As your child gets older, hard candy is still not a good idea – keep candy a rare treat and serve only soft options.
- Popcorn: Most parents are surprised by this one; after all, popcorn is a soft, fluffy bite that melts in your mouth. Un popped and partially popped kernels, however, pose a serious risk.
- Chunks of peanut butter: If you have ever gotten peanut butter stuck on the roof of your mouth, you can imagine how this could become a problem. Serve smooth peanut butter in a very thin layer, and try spreading it on warm toast so that it melts.
- Raw vegetables: Until your child is able to chew very effectively, don’t offer raw vegetable such as carrots which are hard and can pose a choking hazard. Cook vegetables at least partway before serving.
- Chewing gum: You might never offer chewing gum to a baby or young child, but that doesn’t mean they might not get their hands on it. Keep it safely out of reach.
Knowing this list and using caution with these foods is a good step towards avoiding choking hazards. It’s also a good idea to make sure you know what to do in case your child does choke. The Red Cross and other organizations offer training for parents in choking and CPR. Make sure you keep your skills up to par, so that you will be able to provide your child with help if it should be required.