Baby Choking Hazards

You asked and you shall now receive. It’s only fair for us to share all of this stored up knowledge about a baby and what happens once the baby is born until they are no longer called a baby but a toddler! We now will answer, in a very public forum, all of those burning questions about babies and those first 12 months. Each Tuesday, we will tackle a commonly-asked-question from the point of view of a new parent. Chiming in to give her feedback will be an expert who has been there and done that as well as has oodles of professional experience with babies. Earmark, share and add your own input to today’s question; it’s good karma.

What are some food choking hazards I should avoid for babies?

Babies love putting things in their mouths because that is one of the ways they explore their environment and learn new things new things. Once they start to crawl around and then walk independently there is a whole world of objects that they have access to and many of them are choking hazardless. There are many potential choking hazards found in most homes despite our best efforts to make our homes safe for our babies.

Some of the most serious safety and potentially life-threatening dangers are choking hazards which can be found pretty much everywhere by a inquisitive baby even in the most safe and secure home. One such choking hazard is foods. Certain foods depending upon the baby’s age can be choking hazards. From 4 to 12 months babies can choke many different foods like large chunks of foods including carrots, beans, cheeses, chicken, etc. At this age all foods should be cut up to a size no larger than a kernel of corn unless they are purees or soft foods such as mashed potatoes, cooked and mashed squash and sweet potatoes, etc. Foods to watch for choking hazards at this age are ones like grapes, carrots, string beans, chicken, etc. Any food larger than a pea or corn kernel can get stuck in a baby’s throat which can cause choking and lead to respiratory and breathing problems which are life-threatening. Therefore all foods not soft or pureed need to be cut in small pieces.

Another food that is a potential choking hazard is hard candy, cough drops, M&Ms, etc. While parents obviously do not give these candies to babies, babies will often find and eat them when they play with purses, look in pockets, couch and chair cushions, under
furniture (where potentially dangerous common household items can be often found), etc. Also foods with skins such as hot dogs (which I would not recommend giving), grapes, etc are choking hazards too. All foods should be cut up into pieces no larger than 1 inch for toddlers and young children aged 2 years to 5 years. Other food choking hazards are popcorn and nuts. These should never be given to infants under 12 months especially and older babies too. They are serious potential choking hazards which can be life threatening.

Remember babies want to try whatever you are eating or doing. It’s important if you are eating any of these foods to make sure they are out of reach from your baby and probably best not to eat them around your baby. Pocketbooks that mothers, caretakers and visitors
contain many potentially dangerous things including coins, candy, small keys, etc which babies can choke.

Another choking hazard is balloons, which babies can choke on pieces of a balloon that have popped. Once kids ingest a piece of a balloon they easily choke on them because the elastic aspect of the balloon does not allow babies to cough up the material. Additionally the strings also often attached to balloons are choking hazards.

Another potential choking hazard for babies is pet foods and pet toys. Pet foods such as dog and cat food and treats, which are often small and are things that babies can swallow and choke on. Remember most pet food and pet toys are on the floor making them easily
accessible to babies who are often crawling on the floor. Babies can choke on pet toys because these toys have not been approved for babies or children less than 2 to 3 years of age. Pet’s water bowls are a drowning and choking hazard to babies and are readily accessible. Pets also leave pieces of bones they chew, toy pieces, etc, which are potential, hazards all accessible on the floor to babies.

Bathrooms are potential sources of choking hazards as there are small pieces of soaps, razors, etc found there. All medicine pills are potential perilous risks in addition to the life threatening dangers when ingesting medications. Babies should never have access
to bathrooms without being closely supervised. Toilet bowls with water are another source of drowning and choking for babies and should always be secured shut with a toilet lock you can get at any baby store like Buy Buy Baby or Babies’R Us.

Paper can be a choking hazard to babies because babies will bite off and suck and chew pieces of paper, which can become lodged in their throat and choked on. Therefore newspapers, magazines, mail and any other sources of paper around your home are all potential sources of paper. It’s fine to let babies play and tear paper as long as they are closely supervised. We all love doing art projects with babies even if they do make a mess.

The kitchen is another source of potential choking hazards including kitchen refrigerator magnets, small pieces that are parts of appliances such as mixers, etc. Small toy parts are choking hazards for babies and toddlers. It’s very important when giving a baby a toy to see what ages the toy is recommended because one of the things those guidelines are based is choking hazards. Many toys
for children older than 3 years of age are potential choking dangers. The best thing to do is not to have toys with small parts. Babies and toddlers can ingest also small button type batteries, which is a life threatening situations and requires immediate
attention in the Pediatric Emergency Room. The battery acid can seriously damage a child’s esophagus and stomach. Other dangerous materials are marbles, bottle caps, jewelry such as rings and earrings and buttons. Older siblings will often give babies and toddlers objects that can be choking hazards because they do not understand the dangers involved.

Never leave a baby or toddler unsupervised with an older child. Even if they appear responsible they do not have the maturity to
know what is appropriate for babies and toddlers and they do not know CPR if there was a choking or other life threatening situation with your baby. The choking hazards I have discussed are only some of the many choking dangers all around us. Be observant and aware of the environment that surrounds your baby and toddler. Finally remember your baby and toddler must be supervised by an adult at all times who is hopefully trained in CPR.

Expert: Dr. Gina Lamb – Amato MD

Gina is a general pediatrician and developmental pediatrician who works at Village Pediatrics and Agho Medical practices both in Manhattan, NY. She has a masters in child therapy and works with a child psychologist Rosa Vasquez PhD performing office and home consultation for newborns and parents, office and home developmental assessments, school consultations and parent child playgroups where play and art along with baby massage and other techniques are used to help parents bond and support their child’s development. Formerly, Gina was the Director of Pediatric Special Medical Needs before she went into private practice where she cared for medically fragile infants and children. She is also a Early Intervention Pediatrician for Early Intervention which assesses and treats infants from age zero to 3 years. She has extensive experience in Early Head Start programs which work with infants from prenatal to 3 years of age. She is the mother of a beautiful daughter who is 3 years old and the joy of my life. Her husband is an artist, producer and owns Synchronicity Space, a non-profit arts organization that supports emerging artist in fine art and theatre. Finally, she is also an artist who paints mainly babies and children.

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