10 Kids' Party Choking Hazards Every Parent Should Know About
The story of an eleven-year-old girl who tragically choked to death at a birthday party struck fear into the hearts of parents everywhere this week.
It also drew attention to the issue of choking, prompting our readers' to share their experiences and shine a spotlight on many common snacks, items and party foods that seem to pose more of a hazard than others.
Caitriona Carroll said: "There are certain foods that carry bigger risks, yes all food can potentially choke you, but food like whole grapes and hot dog sausages are extremely difficult to dislodge. Other foods because of the texture and shape are easier to get up."
Rhonda Gallagher pointed out that parties can be particularly dangerous, with children eating snacks while running, playing and bouncing on bouncy castles and trampolines.
Reader Mary Shanahan added: "I'm the same with sausages and grapes. I also can't stand popcorn or haribo jellies. We had a close one with my two-year-old recently. He ate a heart shaped jelly and started to choke. I think he thought he could swallow it whole. Never again!"
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), these are the most deadly foods and items in terms of choking risk:
1. Hot dogs
These are the biggest culprits. Their cylindrical shape is just about the size of a young child’s airway. Cut them lengthwise instead of into small chunks, which are actually more dangerous.
Round, smooth and freely available in most homes, grapes are very easy to accidentally swallow whole. Cut into two or four segments for smaller children.
Often seen as a soft and therefore 'safe' treat, one marshmallow can easily fill up a child's mouth, blocking their breathing. The light texture also makes marshmallows easy to inhale.
Choose flat shapes rather than round 'ball' lollipops for small children. If the top comes off the stick, they'll be less likely to choke on a flat lolly.
For some reason, small children seem to be compelled to put these in their mouths. Keep them out of the hands of under-eights and look out for them in Christmas crackers.
6. Latex balloons
Children can easily inhale latex balloons while trying to inflate them or choke on their broken pieces. Latex is a smooth material that can conform to the child’s throat, blocking the airway - even performing the Heimlich Maneuver can be useless because the air that does get through can make the blockage worse.
Nuts are easily aspirated and begins to release oils the minute they become stuck in an airway. It's easy, during a late night peanut snack, for an errant nut to disappear into the carpet or down the side of the couch for a baby to find later.
Light enough to be inhaled and with sharp and irregular edges, popcorn can be dangerous if not chewed properly. Save this healthy snack for older children.
9. Raw vegetables
Crudités are a healthy snack choice for older kids, however chunks of raw carrot, particularly, are too hard for small children to chew properly.
10. Peanut butter
A little bit of this seems innocuous, but add it to soft white bread and a sticky mouthful could easily be swallowed whole and become trapped in a toddler's airway.
My child is choking: what can I do?
According to the HSE:
Turn the infant face down with their head lower than their body.
Support their head, jaw and neck.
Give 5 back blows using the heel of your hand between the infant's shoulders.
Turn the infant onto its back while still supporting their head and neck.
Give 5 chest thrusts by placing two fingers over the lower half of the infant's breastbone, below an imaginary line between the nipples.
Keep doing 5 back blows and 5 chest thrusts until the object pops out and the infant begins to breathe again.
If the infant becomes unresponsive, call for help and send someone to dial 999 or 112.