Choking is a common problem in young children. When a piece of food or a small object blocks the passage of air, that person suffocates. Keep children from choking by teaching them to eat small bites, cut food properly, and chew well. In addition, if you have children under the age of four, you have to adapt your house.
Part 1 of 2: reduce access to small items
Step 1. Customize your home
When you have small children, it is best to store certain items out of their reach. This does not mean that you should eliminate them completely from your home. Instead, you need to put them in closets and consider putting padlocks in them. You can also put certain devices on the handles to prevent access to cupboards or certain rooms. Here are some things you shouldn't drop in your children's hands:
- the magnets
- the figurines
- decorations like garlands or Christmas tree balls
- the Rings
- ear rings
- toys with small parts like Barbie shoes or Lego helmets
- the small balls
- the marbles
- safety pins
- broken pencils
- the staples
- the erasers
- the small stones
Step 2. Check the recommended age on the toys
Toys with small parts are not intended for young children and should carry a warning. Follow the directions for age on the toy packaging. Do not give toys purchased from vending machines to your children because they do not have safety instructions.
In restaurants that offer meals for children, ask for an age-appropriate toy
Step 3. Clean up the mess with small items
For example, if you drop a package of pasta, pick it up immediately. Check under tables and chairs for any bits and pieces you forgot. Anything on the floor is a call for a child to put it in the mouth.
Step 4. Have the older children clean up
When your older kids are playing with Legos or Barbies, ask them to tidy up after. Explain to them that they have to be careful with small objects. Consider presenting it as a game for school-aged children to see which one can find the smaller items.
Step 5. Watch your children when they are playing
Even if you can't watch your children all the time, try to keep your eyes open as much as possible. If you see them playing with something they shouldn't be playing with, intervene immediately. Set up ground rules for the items they can and should not touch.
Part 2 of 2: Paying attention to food safety
Step 1. Cut the food into small pieces
Remember that a child's windpipe is as wide as a straw. Remove the seeds from fruits like watermelon and the stones from fruits like peaches. This applies to both children and adults.
- If you give it a hot dog, cut it in half lengthwise. Then cut it into smaller pieces crosswise. Remove the skin if there is one.
- Cut the grapes into quarters.
- Be extra careful when eating fish with bones (you should only give it to older children, not young children anyway). Try telling your child to take small bites and remove the front ridges. Do not swallow too quickly.
Step 2. Show her what an appropriate bite looks like
Show your children how much food they should put in their mouths. Show them that this piece should be smaller than what their spoon or fork can hold. Discuss with them the need to eat slowly for their safety and also tell them to be polite. Instead of praising your kids for eating quickly, praise them for eating at a moderate pace.
Step 3. Tell them to chew properly
When discussing healthy eating practices, teach them about the importance of chewing food well. They should chew them until they are soft and easy to swallow. You might consider teaching them to count to ten before swallowing the food. After a while, they will have developed the habit of chewing slowly.
- Don't feed your kids solid or soft foods until they have enough teeth or are old enough to be ready. Talk to your doctor to see if your child is ready.
- Children learn by observation. Try to take enough time with meals so that they don't feel rushed.
- Alternate between food and drink. Teach your children not to eat and drink at the same time.
- Encourage your children not to talk and chew at the same time.
Step 4. Eat while you are sitting or not moving
Do not feed young children while they are walking, standing, or moving. Sit them at the table with their backs as straight as possible. A child should never eat and run at the same time. Also, avoid feeding him in the car, on the bus or in the metro. If you stop suddenly, your child could suffocate.
Step 5. Avoid foods that often cause choking
Children under the age of five should avoid several types of foods. If you give them, you should carefully cut or cook them (eg hot dogs). Although older children and adults can eat them, you should feed them to younger children under supervision. Here are some foods you should avoid giving to young children:
- sausage rings
- fish with bones
- cheese cubes
- ice cubes
- spoonfuls of peanut butter
- hard candy
- fruits with the skin (e.g. apples)
- some celery
- raw peas
- throat drops
- chewing gum
Step 6. Cook the vegetables
Instead of serving raw vegetables, steam them, boil or fry them. You want your child to be able to chew and swallow easily. Steaming is a good option because it retains more nutrients than cooking with water.