One of the most frightening experiences for parents occurs when their child chokes on some food or small toy. At 24/7 Pediatric Care Centers, we understand that these episodes can happen at any time, and not always when emergency medical care is immediately available. That’s why we advise that parents take preventive measures whenever possible.
Younger children especially are prone to putting objects in their mouth with little awareness of how inhaling it may be a danger. They also are more likely to choke on foods that are not cut small enough for them to handle. For those reasons, we have these tips for parents.
Tips to Prevent Choking
- Be alert for small objects – beads, balloons, toy parts, bolts and screws, etc. – in the small child’s environment. Make it a habit to do a “sweep” through the child’s bedroom or playroom daily to ensure these objects are out of reach.
- Follow package warnings when buying toys. Look for warning labels that small parts, beads, dowels, and other objects are part of the toy’s make-up. Reserve such toys for older children.
- Limit your child’s possibility of choking while eating: cut carrots, meat, popcorn, grapes and other foods in very small pieces the child can easily eat without choking. Cut hot dogs in half. Avoid rushing children through meals, having them eat while walking, or encouraging belly laughs or high jinks while eating.
Choking First Aid
If a choking episode occurs, parents may be ill-equipped to respond appropriately. The child may exhibit panic, gasping, wheezing, collapsing, turning blue and other symptoms. Slapping the child on the back or trying to reach down his throat to retrieve the object may be parents’ first response. These measures may make the situation worse.
If choking occurs, the order of correct responses is to (1) call 911 or have someone call for you, (2) administer the Heimlich (abdominal thrusts) maneuver.
We recommend that parents take online or hands-on classes in CPR and Heimlich maneuver for children. Even if a choking event never occurs, such knowledge can give you higher awareness and the confidence that you are prepared if an emergency arises.
Look for classes in your area given by the Red Cross or American Heart Association, community colleges, adult education in local public schools or other resources.
At 24/7 Pediatrics, we strive to educate all of our families and prepare them for any situation. If you have more questions about choking first aid for babies and children, contact us. We’ll be happy to provide more information about emergency first aid classes in our area.