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More than they can chew: help kids avoid food-related choking
Here in the Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital Pediatric Emergency Department we see children choking on many common foods including hot dogs, grapes, chips, Cheetos and apples, as well as coins, small toys and watch batteries. Avoid an emergency department visit with your child by following these tips:
- Chop food into small, bite-sized pieces, especially common choking hazards like grapes and hot dogs. Watch out for chips and especially Cheetos, which are the same size as a child’s airway.
- Never leave young children to eat unattended. Choking is a silent problem, and parents who leave the room or become distracted by smart phones may not notice a problem until it’s too late.
- Make children sit still while they’re eating, pausing activities fully for mealtime and waiting to resume them until afterward.
- Watch out for siblings – often an older sibling will feed a younger child something that an adult would never give them.
- Parents of children under 2 years old should be extra vigilant, but keep in mind that older children can choke on food as well.
- Every parent should take a basic life support class, and don’t forget babysitters and other caregivers.
If you do suspect your child may be choking, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1. Signs of choking may include coughing, a high-pitched gasping sound, silence, turning blue in the face or fainting.