Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Tips to Lower Toddlers’ Choking Risks

Tips to Lower Toddlers' Choking Risks

It’s normal for curious young children to explore their surroundings. But, part of this behavior involves putting food and other objects in their mouths. These objects can stick in their windpipe (trachea) and make it hard or impossible for them to breathe. Choking sends thousands of infants and toddlers to emergency rooms each year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and other experts have worked for years to warn parents and child caregivers and to improve the safety of toys and products.

Monitor mealtimes

Before age 4, children aren't able to grind their food into small pieces. Protect your child by making a safe eating environment and avoiding certain foods until your child is age 4.

At meals:

  • Supervise your child. Don't leave your child alone while he or she is eating.

  • Sit your child upright in a high chair.

  • Discourage eating and talking at the same time.

  • Cut your child's food into small pieces until his or her molars come in.

  • Stop your child from running with food in his or her mouth.

Do not allow a child younger than age 4 to have these foods:

  • Hot dogs

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Chunks of peanut butter

  • Chunks of meat or cheese

  • Popcorn, pretzels, potato chips, corn chips, and similar snack foods

  • Hard, gooey, or sticky candy

  • Whole grapes

  • Raisins

  • Raw vegetables, especially hard ones

  • Chewing gum

If hot dogs are the only food you have, remove the tough skin and cut the meat into small pieces.

Keep small objects out of little hands

While food is the most common cause of choking in small children, other objects are also a threat. Keep small household items and toys with small removable parts out of toddlers' reach. Be sure to remove common offenders, such as:

  • Uninflated or broken balloons

  • Coins

  • Marbles

  • Tiny balls

  • Pen caps

  • Button-type batteries

  • Pins

Balloons are the toys most commonly involved in deadly choking accidents. If a child bites on an inflated latex balloon, it can pop, enter the lungs, and choke the child. Broken pieces of a balloon can also be dangerous if a young child picks one up and puts it in his or her mouth.

Choking emergencies

Choking can happen even if you are careful. If your child has a forceful cough and is crying or vocal, let the child get the food or object out him or herself. If your child can't make a sound, have someone call 911 or your local emergency number, while you do the Heimlich maneuver. Learn the version that's right for your child's age. The American Heart Association provides standard procedures for choking victims of all ages. Once the food or object comes out, take your child to the healthcare provider. A piece of the object may remain in the lung. Only a healthcare provider can tell if your child is OK. 

Reviewed Date: 11-01-2016

Find a pediatrician
Health Tips
How to Bathe Your Baby
Job Safety Critical for Teens
Prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome
Preventing Household Poisonings
Taking Baby's Temperature
Teenagers and Summer Jobs
Tote Your Baby in a Sling—Safely
Your 2-Year-Old Child
Kids and Swimming Safety Quiz
Adults: Be Safe When Biking
Preventing Poisonings: Know the Latest Threats
Diseases & Conditions
Airway Obstruction Index
Airway Obstruction: Prevention
Airway Obstruction—Identifying High-Risk Situations
Bicycle, In-Line Skating, Skateboarding Safety—Prevention
Breast Milk Collection and Storage
Breast Milk Expression
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Baby
Breastfeeding Difficulties - Mother
Breastfeeding Your Baby
Eye Care/Avoiding Eye Injuries
Eye Safety and First Aid
Fire Safety and Burns Overview
Home Page - Adolescent Medicine
Home Page - Burns
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Male Conditions
Motor Vehicle Safety Overview
Myasthenia Gravis in Children
Online Resources - Safety and Injury Prevention
Preparing the Infant for Surgery
Preparing the Preschooler for Surgery
Preparing the Toddler for Surgery
Preschooler Nutrition
Preventing Falls
Safety and Injury Prevention for Teens
Safety for You and Your Child
Sports Safety for Children
Surgery and the Breastfeeding Infant
The Growing Child: 1 to 3 Months
The Growing Child: 10 to 12 Months
The Growing Child: 1-Year-Olds
The Growing Child: 4 to 6 Months
The Growing Child: 7 to 9 Months
The Growing Child: Preschool (4 to 5 Years)
Toddler Nutrition
Toy Safety—Identifying High-Risk Situations
Toy Safety—Prevention
Vision Overview

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.