University of Illinois Extension
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Guard Against Choking

Children are very susceptible to choking on objects and food. The majority of choking victims are less than 5 years old. Foods that children choke on most often are hot dogs, candy, peanuts, nuts, grapes, cookies, meat, carrots, apples, popcorn and peanut butter.

Round foods (candy and nuts) cause trouble because they fit so well into a child's airway.

Pliable or compressible foods (hot dogs, grapes) may form a tight plug in the throat.

Hard or tough foods that are difficult to chew (carrots, candy) may result in large pieces being swallowed.

Peanut butter can block the airway because it is so sticky.

Here are a few extra pointers for parents of children under the age of five:

  • Don't allow your child to walk, run, or play while he has food in his mouth.
  • Never leave a little one alone while he/she eats.
  • Make a rule against eating in the car. If your child chokes while you are at the wheel, you may not have time to take necessary action.
  • Make sure your child is always sitting upright when he/she eats or drinks.
  • Don't prop baby bottles. Instead, hold them for the infant during feeding.
  • Keep in mind that anesthetics applied to the child's gum to numb the pain of teething make it difficult for him to eat foods that require chewing.
  • Know the signs of choking: ineffective coughing, inability to speak or cry, high-pitched noises, and bluish lips, nails, and skin.