Choking hazards

What makes certain foods dangerous? Their shape and size. For children under 4 years old, some foods are not appropriate unless they’re cut into small pieces. Foods such as hot dogs, carrots, and grapes can become lodged inside a child’s airway. Also, foods that can change shape, like peanut butter, can form a plug that becomes difficult for children to cough up. (Children under the age of 2 should not be given peanut butter.) In general, children should always be supervised during meal time because a child can choke on anything.

  • Reduce the risk of choking by following the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
  • Cut foods such as grapes and other fruits, meats, cheese, and raw vegetable into small pieces and shapes that won’t block airways.
  • Cut hot dogs length wise as well as width wise.
  • Cook vegetables so they become softer and easier to chew
  • Make sure children are not engaged in high-energy activities when they are eating. If they stumble or get scared, they may gasp and swallow large pieces of food. (Another reason to sit down while eating!)
  • Offer plenty of liquids to children when eating, but make sure liquids and solids are not swallowed at the same time.