Kids are so different, it’s crazy. Sophia has eaten slowly and chewed well since she was a baby. In hindsight, when I was pregnant with Ella, I remember having this totally false sense of confidence. 

“I’ve done this before”, I thought. Little did I know that my second would come out and throw me for every kind of loop. I wasn’t expecting her to be the exact polar opposite of her sister… Yet, here she is; beautifully and apologetically herself, and I love every ounce of her being that makes her, her. 

Pin it for later here.

When she started solids, I quickly saw that she expected food S H O V E L E D in. Which wasn’t a huge deal with smooth baby food, but put some lumps in there, and stuff gets scary. 

Let her do it herself when she gets a little older, it gets even scarier.

It didn’t even matter how little I cut her food because she would just grab a fistful and cram it in.

She’s better now that she’ll be 3 in a few days (*sobs*), but I still don’t fully trust her with certain things. 

There’s a handful of choking hazards most people know, but being Ella’s mom, I’ve learned a few not-so-obvious ones:

Marshmallows:

I’ll never forget the first time we gave Ella a s’more… It was around her second birthday. Soph took it, bit it, chewed it; no big deal. 

I looked away for probably 4 seconds, and looked back and Ella’s face was red and a tad panicked. 

Trust me when I say, buy the mini marshmallows when they’re young and save yourself that feeling when your heart drops to your stomach and you think the Heimlech is happening in the next few seconds. 

Sophia’s first s’more! I would have gotten a picture of Ella’s if she hadn’t been busy trying to choke on it…

Bananas.

Ella will be 3 in a few days, and I still slice her bananas in half lengthwise, then in half-circles. If I gave her the whole thing, she’d have it down in less than a minute. 

Possibly whole.

I don’t know what gave this kid the impression that eating is a race and chewing is optional. 

Popcorn.

Both regular and puff. It’s easy to choke on hulls and the puff popcorn is that perfect choking-prone size.

Sausage.

We don’t have sausage a whole lot, but when we do, if we don’t get patties, I always slice links the same way I do her bananas.

Hotdogs.

I don’t give them hotdogs often either, but same cutting set up for them as bananas and sausage, too. 

Sausages, bananas, and hotdogs cut into rounds are perfect chokers as they become the shape and close size of the child’s throat.

Chicken nuggets.

Gulp.

Grapes.

Grapes you’ll want to cut into spear type shapes (half it lengthwise, turn it, then half it again).

Most resources recommend in half lengthwise, which is fine if they’re small grapes and the child is a little older; but in my experience, I’m still not usually comfortable with halves, even with my 4 year old who chews well. 

Just because I CAN do the Heimlich, doesn’t mean I want to practice.

Blueberries.

I half or quarter these, depending on the size of the berry.

Strawberries.

I usually cut the tops off strawberries, then cut lengthwise, then slice into half-circles (or half whatever-shape-your-strawberry-is-es). 

Any nut butter (peanut/almond/cashew).

I would have never thought of this if I hadn’t had Ella. 

Ella had almond butter instead of peanut butter for the longest time (we thought she had a peanut allergy which she turned out not to have), and almond butter is WAY thicker than peanut butter.

Like, you have to be real careful if you don’t like ripped bread or sandwiches on toast, kind of thick.

I’ve seen my kid get down a whole sandwich in less than 3 minutes. She eats like a rottweiler. 

I’ve seen the “panic face” more than once when I put too much almond or peanut butter on it and she had a hard time swallowing. 

Gumballs.

I’ve seen moms give their toddlers gum balls and it scares the fire out of me. 

Personally, I don’t think they should have gum at all until they’re maybe 6 or 7 (or older), but if you’re going to give it, please at least break it in half first. *nervous twitch*

Lindt Truffles.

This probably sounds super snotty but for the record, I don’t usually give my kids Lindt truffles. 

We just happened to go to a Lindt store a few weeks ago and they had way too much fun picking out a few truffles!

When we got home and I gave them one, I broke into 4 pieces for them.

They’re on their way to the Lindt store in that cool yellow car, btw.

Mini Reeses Cups.

Because of their size and peanut butter can make them harder for kids to chew.

Suckers (stick and all).

Yeah, suckers scare me. A lot.

Goldfish.

Yeah, she never chewed these, either. She was terrifying to feed for the first 3 years.

Taffy.

If I gave Ella taffy, I’m positive it would nearly go down whole.

Hard candies.

Okay this feels obvious, but I’ve actually had people offer my toddlers hard candies. Think grandpas and old man mints. It’s happened.

Cake balls.

Okay, story time.

I’ll never forget the time I was in the middle of making cake balls for company I was getting. I had about 40, undipped, on cookie sheets on the dining room table.

I had to take a phone call, and Joey was out here, so I went back to the bedroom for about 5 minutes.

When I came back, half of my cake balls were gone, and 2 little girls that looked like they’d just eaten mud were hiding under the dining room table. 

Kids, man.

All M&Ms, but peanut especially.

Because of the size and if they put several in their mouths.

Jelly beans.

Maybe one of these days, the candy industry will consider toddlers are eating their products. That day is not today.

Mini Oreos.

Size, again. 

Mini Muffins or cupcakes.

Impressively, Ella can one bite these, too.

Melted cheese.

In too big of a blob, and unchewed, yupp. 

Roasted or fried chicken.

Because of the bones that could be in them, I always rip it into pieces before I give it to them. 

Pizza.

When she doesn’t chew, and you combine bread with melted cheese, it’s a recipe for a choking kid.

Animal crackers.

Literally almost anything can be a choking hazard if they aren’t chewing. It’s stressful, but you’ll get through it with some awareness and knowledge on what to do if your child does choke (see resources at the bottom of this page).

Raw vegetables.

Their firmness can make them especially scary.

Apples.

Cheese chunks or sticks.

I cut Ella’s cheese into tiny pieces for the longest time.

Barbie accessories.

Lexi is as fast as the speed of light, and is our first baby to put everything in her mouth within seconds. Barbie accessories are tiny and perfect for this.

Mini erasers.

Terrifying.

Outlet covers.

Like those things you stick in plugs to protect them? If they’re left on the floor, they can be a hazard waiting to happen.

Crayons or small markers.

Lexi makes a B-line for these things if they’re left in the floor.

Scarves, cords, or anything that can be wrapped around their neck.

Obviously this is a little different than internal and would take awhile to get into, but it’s still a hazard.

Bottle propping.

I think every parent has done this at some point, but it can be dangerous with little babies because if they choke, they can’t move away from the flow of milk. Babies shouldn’t be left with a bottle until they can hold it on their own. At the very least, make sure you’re near and able to quickly remove the bottle if they baby coughs/chokes.

Broken pacifiers.

Pepper Jack has been known to get ahold of a passy or two in his time. This translates to holes in the passy, or the baby can chew on them and put them there when she gets teeth. Always make sure there are no holes in them as this will weaken them and make it possible for it to detach.

Dog food.

It’s awful, but I can’t keep track of how many times Lexi has almost put dog food in her mouth.

Water bottle caps.

I’ve picked these up off the floor and cringed because the baby had JUST crawled by.

Balloons.

Even if they’re blown up, they can be popped and shoved into their mouth. Balloons are especially dangerous because the latex can stick to the throat, making the Heimlech useless. Balloons are one of the top causes of choking-related deaths (Choking Hazard Safety).

Plastic bags.

Coins.

Bouncy balls.

What can you do?

  • Be aware of what is on the floor – and check often. Things are going to get left on the floor. It’s life. I’m constantly looking at the floor and picking up things the baby could put in her mouth.
  • Explain to older siblings what choking is and remind them often to pick up small pieces.
  • Stay current on your CPR and First Aid knowledge. See the videos at the bottom of this page. These videos are a little older, but still current as far as I know.
  • Make sure any caregivers who are staying with your child are up to date on infant and child CPR. And teach it to them, if necessary.
  • When a baby starts eating, space out her bites comfortably. I made the mistake of accommodating Ella’s desire to eat at the speed of light as a baby, and I think it taught her what felt like a “normal” speed to eat.
  • Cut up bites small enough that if she swallowed it whole, she wouldn’t choke.
  • Make sure kids sit down to eat. This ensures they’re actually focused on eating and they won’t fall, possibly causing choking.
  • Don’t feed kids in the car. Not only is this dangerous because of car accidents, sudden stops, etc.; it’s dangerous because if you’re driving, it would be easy to go unnoticed. Even if you did see it, it might be hard or take time to stop and get the child out of their seat to do the Heimlech.
  • Don’t allow children under 8 to blow up balloons. And if you do, make sure they inhale before their lips are on the balloon to ensure they won’t suck it down their throat.

So what to you do if a child chokes?

These videos from ProCPR on YouTube take 2 minutes to watch and could be life-saving.

Conscious Child Choking

Unconscious Child Choking

What about if a baby chokes?

Conscious Infant Choking

Unconscious Infant Choking

What would you add to the list?

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