Choking remains a huge risk to small children, it is one of the biggest risks to children under the age of 5. It is not something that can be prevented, but there are definitely steps you can take to reduce the risk.
Make sure your children sit when they are eating, adults can manage to walk and eat, but children struggle with this.
Watch them during meal times and snack times, children do not necessarily make it obvious when they are choking.
Look out for small objects lying around which are likely to appeal to a toddler.
Monitor the food you give them, making sure it is cut into reasonable sized pieces and that food which is round in shape – grapes 🍇 or sausages are cut so that air could fit past them if they get stuck.
Make sure they are sitting down
Toddlers like to roam around when eating, especially if they are grazing throughout the day. Children might be tempted to run around with fruit 🍎 or other things in their hands and this hugely increases the risk of choking.
Try to encourage them to sit at the table / in a high chair or just quietly on the floor when they are eating.
Also try to avoid feeding them on the move, I once gave my daughter satsuma when I was driving and she was in the back, something I don’t commonly do and I suddenly realised she was choking……it was a very stressful situation and luckily she cleared her airway herself.
Watch them when eating
Children do not necessarily make it obvious that they are choking, and severe choking is silent. One lady on a course I did fed back to me that the only reason she realised her son was choking was because he turned blue.
It is important also to watch them at playgroups where there may be small toys / beads / pebbles lying around. Small children explore the world with their mouth so these things may well end up where they shouldn’t be.
A other common culprit for choking is coins 🪙 in my experience.
Cut their food up
Starting weaning cam be a hugely stressful time for most parents as they worry about choking.
Making sure the food you give them is cut into reasonable sized and shaped pieces. We cannot totally remove the risk of choking but we can reduce it. Hot dog sausages 🌭 , grapes 🍇, blueberries 🫐, satsumas, cherry tomatoes 🍅 even popcorn 🍿 can pose a risk.
If your child is given a boiled sweet or lollipop 🍭 try to keep them sitting down when they eat it as the lolly can come off the stick causing a huge risk.
What to do if they choke?
First of all try to stay calm, if they are choking they will be totally silent and panicking. First thing to do is to administer 5 back blows between their shoulder blades with their head tipped forward.
If this doesn’t work and you have a child under the age of 1, press firmly in the middle of their chest up to 5 times.
If you are still struggling to get it out call an ambulance at this stage and keep going.
NEVER put your finger blindly in their mouth to try and sweep something out as you risk pushing it further down.
If your child is stuffing food into their mouth and you are worried, remove the food from their reach and encourage them to spit it out.
If you want to find out more about how to reduce the risk of choking, or what to do in the event it was to happen (it does affect adults as well) please get in touch to boomonto a first aid course.