Choking is the fourth leading cause of accidental death in children under age 5, according to the New York State Department of Health. The Consumer Product Safety Commissions reports that about 15 choking deaths are reported each year in kids younger than 3. Foods, toys, household items and basically anything that fits into your child's mouth are potential choking hazards. Becoming aware of some of the most common offenders can help keep your child out of harm's way.
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Peanuts, Raw Veggies and Other Hard Foods
Peanuts, raw vegetables and other foods that need to be chewed with a grinding motion should be completely off limits to kids until after age 4, according to HealthyChildren.org, the official website of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Young children may try to swallow such foods whole since they don't typically master more sophisticated chewing abilities until around age 7. Popcorn, celery, hard candy, watermelon with seeds and raw apples are other examples of hard food that should be withheld until after age 4. Completely chopping or slicing hard foods like carrots can help prevent choking.
Hot Dogs, Sausages, Cheese Cubes and Other Soft Food
Hot dogs are the number one cause of food-related choking in kids under the age of 3. “Every food poses a choking risk in young kids but the hot dog has just the right size and consistency to perfectly block the airway, it’s the perfect plug that doesn’t allow any air to get through," explains Johns Hopkins Children’s pediatrician Nisha Kapadia, M.D. Sausages, cheese cubes and grapes can also cause choking in small children. Slicing them into tiny pieces and removing skin when needed can prevent choking.
Marbles, Balls, Balloons and Other Toys
Un-inflated and popped balloons are a leading cause of toy-related choking deaths, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The AAP's HealthyChildren.org website agrees. Marbles and balls are also potentially hazardous to young children, especially little ones who try to put just about everything in their mouth. Toys with small parts and doll accessories like tiny shoes and jewelery can also pose a choking hazard. Always read age guidelines when selecting toys and teach older kids to keep their toys out of reach from younger siblings.
Safety Pins, Coins and Other Household Objects
Safety pins, coins, button-type batteries, pen caps, nails, tacks and paper clips are common household items that are responsible for many choking incidents in young children. Make sure small objects are off the floor and safely out of reach of curious hands. Various kitchen items are also potential choking hazards. Bottle caps, especially sweet tasting ones like those on chocolate syrup and pancake syrup bottles may be be dangerous to little ones trying to lick the drops out of the caps. Refrigerator magnets. Children may also dig into the crash to retrieve egg shells and pop-tops from soda cans, which can pose choking dangers. The American Academy of Pediatrics specifically recommends that objects such as these be kept out of reach for young children under age 4, according to HealthyChilldren.org, AAP's official website.