Choking is one of the leading causes of death in children under 1 year of age and the fourth leading cause of death in preschoolers, and in 95% of cases, death by asphyxiation occurs at home!
It’s scary, I know, but let’ s not panic!
Monitoring your child’s feeding and paying special attention to the preparation of the riskiest foods will go a long way in reducing the risk of choking.
I have therefore prepared a top 10 list of foods that I believe are more likely to cause airway obstruction in infants and children.
No. 10 – Nuts and peanuts
Nuts and peanuts in their original form are risky for young children. They are hard, therefore difficult to chew, smooth and often of ideal shapes and sizes to be lodged in the small airways of our children.
Before the age of 4, it is recommended not to offer your child whole nuts and peanuts. Serve them ground, finely chopped, powdered or buttered instead.
No. 9 – Sausages
The famous sausage is a very popular food in Quebec. It is customary to slice them and serve them that way. For children, this is not ideal.
Indeed, the casing holding the sausage meat can be difficult to chew for the child and keeps the mouth in a “ball” which is conducive to choking.
Cutting sausages lengthwise before slicing is a good way to avoid mishaps. Removing the casing and serving only the sausage meat is also a winning option!
No. 8 – Laurel leaves
Laurel leaves, what would we do without them to season our spaghetti sauces? Now, I’m not telling you to stop using them, no no. You just have to be careful, because the dried laurel leaf tends to break into small pieces. These small pieces, which do not chew very well, can be swallowed and stick to the lining of the airways. This can result in simple discomfort, but can also cause severe breathing problems 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 leaves 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 by placing them in your food + Supervise the children during the meal
Your spaghetti sauce will be delicious!
No. 7 – Tough meat
Think of a steak… Personally, I like it from time to time, but it has to be as tender as possible. We have all bitten into a steak and chewed our mouthful for several seconds without coming to an end. Imagine that it is your little one who has to chew his mouthful for a long time before he can swallow. If your child is like mine, he will swallow before he has chewed enough (not to mention that 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 plug.
If you serve red meat to your child, choose it very tender and cut it into small pieces (for the DME pros, do it the right way ;) ) and separate the pieces on the plate.
Keep an eye on your child to make sure they don’t stuff their cheeks like a squirrel ��.
Teach her 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 slip into our airways if we miss our chance to crunch them.
To serve them to children, cut them in 2 or 4 (depending on the size) they will be easier to crush in their mouths
No. 5 – The apple
The apple is a hard fruit. The danger with hard fruit is that a large piece of it will break off when you bite into the fruit and be swallowed “whole”. The peel is also problematic as it can be tough to chew. But what a wonderful fruit, it should not be neglected there!
Before the age of 4, it is recommended that apples be served chopped, peeled, grated or mashed.
No. 4 – Sweets
It is recommended to avoid offering jujubes, hard candies, lozenges and other small and sticky foods to a child under 4 years old. Their shape and texture can cause airway obstruction if they are not chewed properly or swallowed accidentally.
Being slightly fond of sweets myself (Read here: Completely obsessed) I don’t always respect this recommendation with my children.
If I give them candy, I choose the easy to chew candy, ask them to stay calm when they eat it and I keep a constant eye on them. And … I brush their teeth vigorously!
No. 3 – Some raw vegetables
Carrots, celery, broccoli and other hard vegetables should be avoided in their raw form. Too tough for their little teeth, children could swallow them without chewing them evenly.
We agree that it is still recommended to give vegetables to our children!
Serve them cooked, grated or in soup. Yummy!
No. 2 – The 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 esophageal wall.
Do not serve to children under 4 years old. But if you’re like me and you think that a movie without popcorn is, well, supervise your child and make sure he eats slowly and chews thoroughly
No. 1 – Bread
There you go, that’s the top 1!!!
Before at least 18 months, it is recommended that toast be served to a child. It is risky because breadcrumbs are often sticky and if not properly softened in the mouth they can form a ball and stick to the lining of the airways. According to a study by La Presse, among 120 people who died of obstruction, in 23% of cases, bread was the cause. Still!
To serve bread to your little ones, toast it. Thus, 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! Again, the key is in supervision and prevention. Explaining to your child that not to squirrel (to stock up on cheeks haha) and to chew for a long time before swallowing, is a good start!
Bon appetit to your little ones!
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