Now that my baby is picking things up with her fingers and is able to maneuver herself around the house by scooting and rolling, I’m realizing just how vigilant I have to be in terms of choking hazards. I’m constantly on the lookout for small items on the floor and small items within her reach, but I have this nagging fear that I might miss something. She is also eating solids now, so in addition to eliminating choking hazards, I also have to make sure I’m not feeding her any.
From all of my research (because what new mom doesn’t Google everything), I’ve discovered that children under 4 are the most likely to choke, so until she is 4 or 5 I have to be incredibly cautious. She’s only six months now, so it kind of feels like I’m going to have to be on high alert forever. No one ever told me that my biggest worries would suddenly take the form of such tiny objects—buttons, pennies, broken chips on the floor…
Here are some ways to prevent choking in young children both in general and while eating:
- Pay Attention — This seems like common sense, but in today’s mobile and social media crazed society, we don’t realize just how distracted we are. In a matter of seconds, babies pick up things or can choke on their food; and they cannot alert us that they’re choking like an adult can. By paying attention while they are eating and playing, we can help eliminate the hazards of choking.
- Check Your Home for Reachable Small Objects — Until I started paying attention, I didn’t realize how many small objects were within my baby’s reach. I’ve found hair bands and bobby pins on the floor near counters, pennies on the floor near our change jar, large food crumbs, and so much more.
- Don’t Let Your Baby Chew On Your Clothes — My daughter loves to chew on our clothes when we hold her. It’s probably partly because she is teething, but she goes straight for our buttons and zippers. I often have my little one on the floor with me while I fold clothes and she’ll quickly go for my husband’s button-up shirts and stick them in her mouth. Be very mindful of not just buttons lying around on the floor, but buttons on clothing that could easily come off.
- Don’t Give Certain Foods — Experts say that you should not give the following foods to your child until they are at least 4 years old: whole grapes, popcorn, nuts, hard candy, gummy candy, marshmallows, and seeds( because seeds can get stuck in a small child’s airway).
- Soften Food for Baby — Whether you follow baby led weaning or give your baby purees, it is important that food is soft so that your baby can gum or chew it. As your baby ages and is able to eat finger foods, cut them up so that they are pea-sized.
While we can’t live in fear, I think it’s important that we’re well informed and mindful of our surroundings. I think the biggest thing that I can do to eliminate choking hazards is to pay attention. It is so easy to become distracted—even partially distracted—and if I am aware of where my baby is, what’s around her, and what she’s doing it can help eliminate a number of risks.
By Holly M.