Choking hazards

Children under four years of age have an increased risk of choking.  It is important to carefully supervise them during meals and playtime when children are most likely to use their mouths to explore and experiment with new objects.

Here are some basic rules for preventing choking:

  • No object should be small enough to completely fit into a child’s mouth.  Keep all objects smaller than 3.2 centimeters (1¼ inches) in diameter and shorter than 5.5 centimeters (2¼ inches) in length out of reach of young children.
  • Check toys and equipment regularly for small parts that may break off.  Remove or securely attach these items.
  • Do not give foods that are round, hard, small, thick and sticky, smooth, or slippery to children younger than four.
  • Foods for babies should be cut in small pieces no larger than .6 centimeter (1/4 inch) cubes.  For toddlers, food pieces should be no larger than 1.3 centimeter (1/2 inch) cubes.
  • Don’t allow children to eat or drink while walking, running, playing, lying down, or riding in vehicles.
  • Children should be closely watched while eating.  Watch to make sure the child isn’t storing food in his cheeks.  Also watch the child’s posture.  Slumping promotes choking.  Having a foot rest for children whose feet cannot reach the floor helps them adjust their body position and avoid choking.
  • Solids should not be fed to infants in bottles or feeding syringes.
  • Bottles should not be propped up.
  • Learn proper first aid techniques for a choking infant or child.

These foods can choke children:

  • sausages, hot dogs, and other long, thin foods
  • whole grapes
  • hard candy
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • raw peas
  • dried fruit other than soft raisins
  • pretzels
  • chips
  • peanuts
  • popcorn
  • marshmallows
  • spoonfuls of peanut butter
  • raw carrot rounds

These toys and objects can choke children:

  • Lego pieces
  • beads
  • coins
  • small wads of paper
  • paper clips
  • safety pins
  • loose buttons
  • latex balloons (deflated or broken balloons can choke children)
  • eyes and noses that break off of stuffed animals
  • buttons that break off of doll clothes
  • plastic hats or shoes on dolls and action figures
  • Styrofoam objects
  • plastic bags
  • small button batteries can choke and are also poisonous