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A World of Discovery
If your baby is just discovering how to put things in his mouth, chances are you will be faced with one of the scariest experiences a parent can deal with — the reality of choking.
Babies need to put things in their mouths. It’s how they learn about the world around them, discovering textures and sizes.
But, as choking is the number-one cause of accidental death for babies within the first year of life (1), we have to remain vigilant about monitoring what our babies put in their mouths. In particular, we need to be more careful around meal times and snack times since half of all choking accidents involve food. (1)
Safe Food Tips to Prevent Choking
Given the above correlation between food and choking, let’s review the most commonly associated foods and suggest some tips for keeping babies safe when they're eating.
Safe food tip #1
Remember that children 4 years of age and younger still haven’t mastered chewing, swallowing and breathing at the same time and they require extra supervision while eating.
Safe food tip #2
Public gatherings may present a whole host of choking-hazard foods that your child might grab and shove in his mouth.
Safe food tip #3
Avoid having meals “on the go”. Your child may not be able to tell you she is choking. You need to be watching so you can react quickly.
Cut Foods Smaller
Safe food tip #4
Whole hot dogs, grapes, grape or cherry tomatoes, cheese and other “chunky” foods need to be cut into bite-sized pieces. Hot dogs, for example, should be sliced long ways into fours and then cross ways into pie-piece shaped pieces until the child gets more comfortable with chewing.
Safe food tip #5
Peel apples and clear stringy rind from oranges and grapefruit. Any fruit you serve needs to be cut into small, bite-sized pieces.
Safe food tip #6
Make sure your child has swallowed everything in his mouth before he leaves the table. “Squirreling” can increase the risk of choking while the child is playing. (1)
Some of these things can be hard to do in a busy world.