Every year, lives are lost due to babies and younger toddlers choking.
In what follows, we’ll share some tips for how these risks can be reduced.
Tips in preventing choking in babies and early toddlers
Many of these are well-known but they cannot be repeated frequently enough if tragedies are to be avoided:
- the most important tip of all – learn what to do should your child experience choking! This will usually involve taking a short but possibly life-saving course on emergency first aid for babies and toddlers. This is critically important just in case all the precautions below haven’t been sufficient;
- remove all small swallowable objects from your baby’s or toddler’s reach. Children at a young age have an urge to experiment by putting objects into their mouths. Normally they’ll spit it out quickly but sometimes accidents can happen and the object will slip backwards into their throat and airways;
- when switching from liquids to solids, ensure that everything is minced and mashed to a near pulp. When you start to introduce larger elements of food, be certain they’re still small, thin and very soft;
- don’t allow children to put their toys into their mouth (unless it is specifically designed for such, like a dummy/comforter or teething ring). Only use soft cuddly toys, which will probably be chewed, bitten and sucked if they conform to full safety regulations and carry a label accordingly. You won’t want things like buttons or toy eyes coming off in your child’s mouth;
- be cautious with accidental overheating of food. This can happen more easily than you might think if you’re distracted while using a pot or especially microwave to heat their drink or food;
- although strictly speaking not choking, watch out for bedclothes or curtain cords that could easily become wrapped around your child’s neck;
- incline towards purchasing solid-object toys where possible, with no bits that can be detached. Also, make sure they are far too large for your child to possibly get into their mouth;
- do not permit other people to give sweeties or other food items to your children unless you have personally inspected the item and confirmed it does not represent a potential choking hazard. Keep in mind that some people who have not had children may simply not be aware of the danger and others who had their children many years ago, may simply have lost some of that parental awareness and common sense;
- don’t give your child a bottle if they’re laying down. They may accidentally draw fluids into their lungs;
- never allow any baby or toddler to eat other than in a sitting position or at times, standing up – but only if stationary. Laying down and eating should be prohibited, as should running around whilst chewing;
- finally, watch out for plastic bags used for food or toys. Not only might they be a suffocation risk but if swallowed they might expand in the child’s airways.
Try to periodically look around the room with a very critical eye, trying to identify anything that transgresses in terms of swallowing risk. It just might be critically important.