Lower Your Child's Risk of Choking

Here's how to keep your child safe from choking hazards.

Choking can be life threatening when a child swallows or inhales an object or food that blocks his airways. To decrease the risk of choking:

  • Mash, puree, or blend your baby's food thoroughly before serving it. For toddlers, cut all foods into smaller-than-bite-size pieces.
  • Make sure that your child is sitting down while he eats, and never leave him unattended during meals.
  • Do not allow your child to play games with his food -- filling his cheeks like a chipmunk or catching popcorn in his mouth, for example. Teach him to chew and swallow before talking or laughing.
  • Keep your child away from garbage, especially any kitchen trash that he can swallow, such as eggshells or pop tabs from soda cans.
  • Choose age-appropriate toys that do not contain small parts. If you have older children, keep their toys, which may contain choking hazards, out of your toddler's reach.
  • Purchase Mylar balloons instead of the rubber kind, and never let your child chew on a balloon, which he could inhale.

Copyright © 2000 Daphne Sashin. Reprinted with permission from the April 2000 issue of Parents magazine.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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