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How to prevent choking in children

Tip from the parenting trenches

There are many good websites for learning more about how to prevent and how to help a choking child, including infant and young child pediatric CPR.

† Start with videos produced by the Red Cross on their You Tube channel. † To learn how to perform the Red Cross-approved Heimlich manuever on an infant, go to

† Sign up for a CPR class locally. Learning what to do “in the event of” firsthand will give you confidence. Go to to find a local class.

Updated: February 5, 2013 10:50AM

There is little that is more frightening than to realize your child ­­— or any child — is helplessly choking or has become unconscious. Follow these Red Cross-approved guidelines to prevent and help a choking child:

Keep items small enough to be choking hazards away from children. When in doubt whether or not something can be a choking hazard, picture the size of your child’s esophagus. Some of these items include but are not limited to:

† Balloons

† Coins

† Marbles

† Pen or marker caps

† Button-type batteries

† Jewelry, hair clips

† Small pieces of crayons

† Large pieces of food or food not adequately chewed

† Push pins, tacks, safety pins

† Keep children away from anything that can be made small enough to fit into a child’s mouth. Some soft toys can be compressed or balled up to fit.

† Check for toy parts that are removable or might come off easily, such as buttons or other accessories sewn onto a doll.

† Make it a rule that there is to be no eating unless the children are seated properly: in other words, no playing around while food is consumed. This would include not letting your infant or small child have free access to snacks while in the car seat unless an adult who can observe is sitting next to the child.

Infants and young children should not be given certain foods unless they are cut into smaller pieces, including, but not limited to grapes, hot dogs, popcorn, hard candy, nuts, fruit (careful of seeds), raw vegetables, cheese cubes. Teach children to take small pieces, chew completely and swallow before talking. Peanut butter and chewing gum are also potential choking hazards.

† Learn to recognize the signs of a choking child. Is the child clutching at her throat, unable to breathe, are her lips and or face turning blue, is he losing consciousness? (If the child is making noise or coughing, he is likely getting air).

† If your child is choking, open his mouth to see if you can wipe or pull the offending material out.

† If you believe your child might be choking, do not hesitate to call 911. As a local firefighter told me, “We would rather not be needed when we show because the child has stopped choking, than the alternative.”

Gannett News Service

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