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Children's health

27th Jan 2023

HSE issues advice for parents if their child starts choking

Kat O'Connor

The HSE has issued a warning to parents after two children died in choking-related incidents in Ireland this month.

The HSE has urged parents to ensure they know what to do if a child starts choking.

They shared the below advice following the two tragedies.

The HSE stated that it is common for babies and children to put things in their mouths, including food and non-food items.

These items can easily lead to choking, but food most often causes choking incidents.

The HSE stressed, “Never leave your child alone while they are eating in case they choke. Always supervise meals and snacks.”

The best way to feed your child is in a high chair or at a table. An adult should also always be supervising when they’re eating.

Parents have been told to avoid feeding their children when they’re walking or running. They also shouldn’t let their child eat in the car or in their buggy.

The HSE also stressed that you should always keep foods that your child could choke on out of their sight and reach.

Children under the age of 5 should never eat the following:

  • whole or chopped nuts (including peanuts)
  • marshmallows
  • popcorn
  • chewing gum
  • boiled and hard sweets

The HSE is also reminding parents that all food should be prepared safely.

“Always cut up food to a size that your child can chew and eat safely. To make food safer, change the texture – grate, cook, finely chop or mash it.”

“Remove the parts of food that could choke your child. Peel off the skin or remove any strong fibres, seeds, pips, or stones.”

Parents have been advised against giving young children cherry tomatoes, grapes, and nuts.

You can read the HSE’s full list of advice here.