Diseases & Conditions : Safety and Injury Prevention
Airway Obstruction - Identifying High-Risk Situations
Most incidences of accidental child strangulation, suffocation, and choking occur in the home. Parents should take extra care to childproof the house for young children, keeping in mind that the airways of young children are much smaller and easier to obstruct.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children younger than 4 years old should not be fed any round, firm foods unless they are cut into small, non-round pieces. Young children may not chew food properly before swallowing, increasing the risk of swallowing the food whole and choking. Food to avoid or cut into small pieces for children under age 4 include the following:
Chunks of peanut butter
In addition, always supervise your young children when they are eating. Sometimes, choking can occur when an older child feeds his/her younger sibling unsafe food. Young children should also sit while eating, and never walk, play, or run with food in their mouths.
Hot dogs and grapes can be eaten by young children as long as the skins are taken off and the food is cut into small, non-round pieces.
Other choking hazards
Nonfood items that are small, round, or conforming can be a choking hazard to young children. Examples include:
Strangulation and suffocation hazards
Children can strangle themselves with consumer products that wrap around the neck, such as clothing drawstrings, ribbons, necklaces, pacifier strings, and window blind and drapery cords.
Small passages through which a child can fit body, but not the head, can strangle a child, including spaces in bunk beds, cribs, playground equipment, baby strollers, carriages, and high chairs.