Kids’ Corner: Common foods that can choke children

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Arguably, it is the joy of every parent to see their child happy and healthy. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), a baby needs to be fed on the mother’s breast milk a minimum of 6 months before the child can start feeding on solid food. 

How can you know that your baby is ready for solid food? Child experts mentioned sure signs such as when the child starts holding the head in a steady and upright position, sit down without support, mouthing the hands, and crave food by leaning forward and opening the mouth. You might believe your baby is ready for solid food, but nutritionists recommended that you start with a half spoonful or less, then, increasing the quantity as your baby grows.

Foods are crucial in your toddler’s development, but they equally can be dangerous when wrongly eaten. Certain foods can be deadly to children because they can easily choke children, especially those under four years. Kids at this age are yet to learn how to chew, and in most cases, they swallow food as a whole. Round and hard foods can be dangerous to your kid’s life, and you should avoid feeding them with such foods. If you choose to give the foods to your child, opt for the grounded ones or cut them into small pieces for easier consumption.

“Children are around one-and-a-half years old before they have their first set of molars, and they don’t have a full set of childhood teeth, including the final set of childhood molars, until age 3. Although 3-year-old children have both sets of molars, they are still learning to chew and grind with their molars effectively,” said Paediatrician Catie Sandberg of UnityPoint Health.

Researchers have discovered that food choking is the leading cause of death in children ages 14 and below. The American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) report shows that one child dies from choking on food every five days. Raw, whole, or foods that are in specific shapes are risky, thus should be replaced with safer ones.

We compiled foods that you should keep away from your baby because they are unsafe. There might be pretty many foods missing from the list. However, the information provided helps to impart knowledge on what is anodyne to your baby. 

1. Whole grapes

There are high possibilities for whole grapes to get stuck in your toddler’s throat either with or without skin. Therefore, there is a need to cut them in half or quarters to make it easier for your kid to swallow. Grapes are smaller in size and round, meaning they can easily block the kid’s airway.


2. Popcorns

Just like whole grains, popcorns can quickly get stuck in your child’s respiratory tract. No matter how your kid likes kernels of popcorns, you have no option but to restrain them from taking grains because they are dry and hard to chew. Opt for rice cakes or puffed popcorn instead. 


3. Hot dogs

Their tube-like shape and compressibility make hot dogs a choking hazard. Cut them long-wise and in small pieces if you choose to feed them to your toddler. Due to their round shape, they could effortlessly lodge the airway. 

Hot dog

4. Raw vegetables

A whole vegetable can pose a danger to your kid. When a piece breaks off or cuts by the child’s incisors, it could stick in the throat. Foods such as carrot, sticks, celery sticks, apple slices, cucumber can become hard to chew. You can either steam or slightly cook your veggies. Besides, you can also shred them instead of serving them as a whole.


5. Larger chunks of meat/cheese

If adults find it challenging to chew thin slices of steak or chicken, what do we expect from toddlers? Go for shredded grounded meat or shredded/crumbled cheese that your kid can bite. 

Cooked meat

6. Peanut butter

Peanut butter sometimes can be challenging for toddlers to move around in their mouths. It is advisable to thin the peanut butter a little with water and feed them using a spoon. You can substitute peanut butter with seed butter.

Peanut butter

7. Chewing gum

Children below five years should be refrained from taking hard gums, according to the AAP. Gums like taffy can obstruct the child’s respiratory tract, causing a choking effect. The best solution is to keep gums away from your baby – even if they are craving for them.

Chewing gum

As much as we all want our children to feed well, we must keep a close eye on them when feeding. Ensure your kid does not run, walk, lie down, and play with food in his mouth. Similarly, your child should sit up and in a safe place while eating. As a parent or caregiver, cook and prepare food appropriately to prevent choking. 

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Choking baby image: