Warnings are issued to parents about which toys and household items are choking hazards to small children. We read the labels, listen to news reports, and do our best to be vigilant about what our little ones are putting into their mouths.
That includes food. Since their airways are so small, young children are at risk of swallowing bits of food that are too large, which can lead to choking. Whether you’re feeding them or they’re feeding themselves, accidents can happen.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, food accounts for half of choking incidents in small children. To help avert this danger, they’ve highlighted which foods pose the biggest risk to children under age 4:
Nuts can easily get caught in a child’s airway due to their size. Additionally, tiny teeth may not be able to handle chewing whole nuts, so avoid giving nuts to little ones. Sometimes shells from the nuts restrict airways too. Wait until they are well over age 4, can sit while eating, and have learned how to chew their food completely.
Besides contributing to cavities, hard candy like lollipops sends thousands of kids to the ER each year. Even a small piece can get lodged in a child’s throat. Avoid giving hard candy and marshmallows to your child until they are over age 5 and can chew thoroughly.
Because of their size and slippery texture, grapes are a major choking hazard. Doctors recommend considering a no-grape policy for kids under 4 or cutting them into quarters (or smaller) before serving them to your child. Similarly shaped foods like cherries should also be avoided at this age.
According to Johns Hopkins, one of the biggest threats to kids under 3 is hot dogs – even if you cut them up! Choking on a small piece of hot dog can lead to hospitalization if you’re not careful. If you want to give your child hot dogs, make sure to cut them into thin strips or tiny, minced bits.
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