Little ones love to put just about anything and everything in their mouths. This is their way of exploring the world! While some items are safe to explore, others can pose a very serious and even life threatening danger. Toddlers are typically at the greatest risk for choking, as they are trying new things and still learning new foods, textures, and how to use their body properly. To help you keep your child as safe as they can be, we have compiled a list of the top choking hazards for toddlers and the information you need on how to prevent choking. So, from scrumptious snacks to everyday items, keep reading to find out what is safe for your kiddo and what is not.
Foods to Avoid
The early years after weaning are a yummy time for kiddos to try new flavors and textures. Unfortunately, there are a lot of foods that pose a serious choking hazard for toddlers. And at this age, they are still growing and learning to eat safely. So, be sure to prepare foods in a way that is easy for your child to consume. Usually this means softened through cooking or cut in very small pieces. However, some tasty treats are especially dangerous. Skip the foods on the list below until your child is four to five years old or they are approved by your pediatrician.
- Potato or corn chips and other snacks such as pretzels and popcorn
- Products such as crackers or breads containing nuts, seeds, or whole grain kernels
- Grain products such as wheat germ and those containing whole grain kernels such as wheat, rye, and barley.
- Granola and granola bars
- Nuts and seeds that are whole or chopped
- Nut and seed butters
- Whole beans or legumes such as chickpeas and lentils
- Large or chewy chunks of meat
- Meat or fish with bones
- Hot dogs, or other similar processed meats such as jerky, meat sticks, or sausages
- Chunks of cheese such as cubes or string cheese
- Small round fruits and vegetables that are uncut such as grapes, cherries, berries, cherry or grape tomatoes, melon balls, or corn kernels (cooked or raw).
- Raw, crunchy fruits or vegetables, such as uncooked apples or carrots.
- Fruit from fruit cups or whole pieces of canned fruit
- Dried fruit or vegetables that are uncooked, such as raisins or cranberries
- Hard candies
- Any round or chewy candies such as caramels, gum drops, jelly beans, fruit snacks, gummy bears (or other gummy candies).
- Chewing gum
- Ice cubes or popsicles
- Any chewy, hard, or sticky foods
Items to Tuck Away
With a little one on the loose in your home, it is critical to keep unsafe items out of reach. But households typically have a lot of small objects hiding in drawers or lingering in between the seats of cars and couch cushions. Be sure to keep your home tidy and safely tuck away any of the following or other similar items that pose choking hazards for toddlers:
- Round, hard items such as coins and buttons
- Batteries (especially button batteries)
- Small hair clips, hair ties, bows, etc.
- Furniture or bean bag stuffing
- Stones, beads, and small pieces or parts of jewelry
- Common household items such as detergent pods, safety pins,
- Hardware items like nails and screws
- Office supplies such as magnets, push pins, pen caps, crayons, erasers, and staples
Curious kiddos can’t wait to get their hands on anything they can play with. While they might be drawn to all things toys, they can have small parts that can detach or break. Be sure to keep small toys or toys with small parts away from young children. Always check the approved safety regulations and age ranges for any toys you let your little one play with. Avoid any toys that aren’t age appropriate or that you don’t know the safety of. Stay on the safe side by signing up to receive toy recalls. Here are a few common toys to keep away from your toddler:
- Small toys like marbles, dice, and legos
- Balloons and other blow-up toys
- Toys with unknown safety such as those from fast food meals, vending machines, and inside candy packages or cereal boxes.
- Toys for older children
Luckily, choking is highly preventable. Encourage your child to eat slowly and chew their food thoroughly. To keep your curious toddler away from dangerous items, child proof your drawers, cabinets, and doors to limit their ability to access parts of your house that might contain hazardous items. Be sure to check what items you give to your child are safe for their age range and don’t pose a risk. Assess clothing, electronics, and other items in your household regularly to ensure small parts like buttons, batteries, and pen caps are not missing. Keep your car and the rooms in your house that your child has access to as clean and tidy as possible. This way, they are unlikely to accidentally stumble upon a choking hazard such as a coin on the floor or a stray battery in between the couch cushions.
Even with the most diligent and cautious parents, choking is still a real possibility. While choking can happen to anyone, young children are especially at risk. The best way to be prepared as a parent is to do your research and to undergo safety training. You can take classes to learn about first aid and how to properly conduct CPR. Talk to your pediatrician about the other ways you can be prepared and what to avoid for your child’s specific needs.
At Coastal Kids Pediatrics, our mission is to support parents and caregivers in prioritizing the best health and wellness of the children in their lives. While we hope this guide on the top choking hazards for toddlers is helpful, we know that navigating safety hazards can be tricky. If you have any other questions or would like more advice on how to prevent choking, don’t hesitate to reach out to your passionate Coastal Kids pediatrician. To make an appointment visit us at www.coastalkids.com.