Choking is one of the leading causes of death in children under 1 year of age and the fourth leading cause of death among preschool children and in 95% of cases, death or asphyxiation occurs at home!
It’s scary, I know, but let’s not panic !
Supervising your child when he or she is eating and paying particular attention to the preparation of riskier foods greatly helps reduce the risk of choking.
I have therefore prepared for you a top 10 foods which, in my opinion, are more likely to cause airway obstruction in infants and children.
Let's go !
No. 10 – Nuts and peanuts
Nuts and peanuts in their original forms are risky for young children. They are hard, therefore difficult to chew, smooth and often of ideal shapes and sizes to lodge in the small airways of our children.
Before the age of 4, it is recommended not to offer your child whole nuts and peanuts. Instead, serve them ground, finely chopped, powdered or buttered.
No. 9 – Sausages
The famous sausage is a food very popular with Quebecers. We usually cut them into slices and serve them that way. For children, this is not ideal.
Indeed, the casing holding the sausage meat can be difficult for the child to chew and keeps the mouth in a “ball” which is conducive to choking.
Cutting sausages lengthwise before slicing is a good way to avoid incidents. Removing the casing to only serve the sausage meat is also a winning option!
No. 8 – Bay leaves
Bay leaves, what would we do without them to season our spaghetti sauces!? Now, I'm not telling you not to use them anymore, no-no. You just have to be careful, because dried bay leaf tends to break into small pieces. These small pieces, which do not chew very well, can be swallowed and stick to the wall of the airways. This can result in simple discomfort, but can also cause a serious respiratory problem depending on the position of the piece. This is valid for any object of the same shape, such as small stickers, pieces of paper, pieces of plastic, etc.
To enjoy the good taste of bay leaf safely, here are 3 simple tips:
+ pay particular attention to the number of leaves used and remove them all when serving the plates.
+ Avoid breaking the leaves when placing them in your food + supervise children during the meal
Your spag sauce will be delicious!
No. 7 – Tough meat
Think about a steak… Personally, I like it from time to time, but it has to be as tender as possible. We've all bitten into a steak and chewed for several seconds without finishing it. Imagine that it is your little one who has to chew his mouthful for a long time before being able to swallow. If your child is like mine, he will swallow before he has chewed enough (not to mention he will probably have more than one piece in his mouth) . The risk with meat is that your child doesn't chew long enough and swallows a super compact mouthful.
If you serve red meat to your child, choose it very tender and cut it into small pieces (For DME pros, do as it should ; ) ) and separate the pieces on the plate.
Watch your child to prevent him from stuffing his cheeks like a squirrel.
Teach him to chew each bite well.
No. 6 – Grapes
Grapes and other small, round foods are prone to choking. The risk lies in their shape and texture. Grapes, blueberries and olives, for example, are smooth and can easily slide into our airways if we miss our bite while biting them.
To serve them to children, cut them into 2 or 4 (depending on the size) so they will be easier to crush in their mouth.
No. 5 – The apple
The apple is a hard fruit. The danger of hard fruit is that a large piece comes off when biting into the fruit and is swallowed whole. The peel is also problematic since it can be tough to chew. But what a wonderful fruit, we must not neglect it there!
We recommend, before the age of 4, to serve the apple cut into pieces, without peel, grated or pureed.
No. 4 – Candy
It is recommended to avoid offering jujubes, hard candies, pastilles and other small and sticky foods to a child under 4 years old. Their shapes and textures are at risk of causing respiratory tract obstruction if they are improperly chewed or accidentally swallowed.
Being slightly fond of treats myself ( Read here: Completely obsessed) I don't always follow this recommendation with my children.
If I offer it to them, I choose the easy-to-chew candy, ask them to stay calm while eating it, and keep a constant eye on them. Ha and… I vigorously brush their teeth!
No. 3 – Certain raw vegetables
Carrots, celery, broccoli and other hard vegetables should be avoided in their raw forms. Too tough for their little teeth, children could swallow them without having chewed them evenly.
We agree that it is still recommended to give vegetables to our children !
Serve them cooked, grated or in soup. Yum yum!
No. 2 – Popcorn
Oh no! Not the popcorn… And yes, it turns out that popcorn can be dangerous for our minis. Its texture is not uniform. The grain bursts, but is still present under the tooth, so it can get stuck in the wall of the esophagus.
Avoid serving it to a child under 4 years old. But if you're like me and you find that a movie without popcorn is boring, supervise your child and make sure he eats slowly and chews thoroughly.
No. 1 – Bread
There you go, this is the top 1!!!
Before at least 18 months, we recommend serving toast to a child. It carries risks since bread crumbs are often sticky and if they are not adequately softened in the mouth they can form a ball and stick to the wall of the airways. According to a study by La Presse, among 120 people who died from obstruction, in 23% of cases, bread was the cause. Anyway !
To serve bread to your little ones, toast it. This way it will lose its sticky texture. Cut it into strips or very small pieces. You can also brush a good amount of butter, applesauce, yogurt, etc. on it. To soften it before the child puts it in his mouth! Once again, the secret is in supervision and prevention. Explaining to your child that not being squirrelsome (putting reserves in your cheeks haha ) and chewing for a long time before swallowing is a good start!
Bon appetit to your little ones!