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When young children transition to solid food the risk of choking is a constant source of anxiety for mothers. Foods with the wrong size, shape and consistency pose a greater hazard than you might imagine.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) choking on food is a leading cause of death for children under 14 – claiming one life every five days in the US. What’s more, choking-related incidents send kids to emergency departments at the rate of 34 per day.
The good news is that a small amount of foresight and preparation can greatly reduce the risk to your child. Here is a list of the ten most hazardous foods and how to make them safer for your kids.
1. Sausages and frankfurts
Whilst they are extremely popular sausages and frankfurts are the same size and shape as a young child’s wind pipe and can cause a fatal blockage. It is best to serve them sliced length wise and chopped into small irregular shaped pieces.
Carrots are a wonderful healthy snack but like hot dogs they can easily lodge in the wind pipe. Choking risk can be avoided by either grating them or cooking them until they reach a soft and mushy consistency.
Apples are an ideal snack for on-the-go, but as with other hard fruits, it is important to either slice them into very small pieces or cook them until they're soft.
Grapes present a considerable choking risk when swallowed whole. Make sure you slice them in half and remove the seeds before serving to your young children.
Nuts are not only a grave allergy risk, they can easily get caught in a young child’s windpipe. They should be avoided or young children should be closely supervised while they are eating them.
6. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is marginally safer than whole nuts but large dollops can get stuck in a child’s throat. Provided your child is allergy free, we recommend spreading it very finely on crackers and bread.
Children adore a marshmallow served with their babycino. Sadly these soft, sticky treats can easily block the wide pipe. We recommend cutting them out completely until your children are older.
8. Hard lollies
Hard items like Skittles, M&Ms and chewing gum pieces are extremely dangerous for young children. They can be easily inhaled if your child breathes deeply or laughs.
Whilst popcorn is a reasonable health alternative to chips for kids, it should be kept off the menu for little children. Its size and shape make it a choking hazard.
It’s all too easy to hand a hungry child a biscuit. However, there’s a chance that a small piece could break off and lodge in your child’s throat. Again, we advise chopping them into small pieces before serving.
SAFE EATING TIPS
The following advice can help to keep your kids safe by reducing their risk of choking while eating:
Encourage your children to sit up straight to eat
Maintain that meal times are calm and unhurried.
Don't allow your children to eat while they doing other things like walking, playing or driving in a car.
Offer liquids with food, to encourage your children to take sips between mouthfuls.
Above all, never leave your children unattended with food.