It's a tragic fact but each year more and more children suffocate from swallowing items that are far too small for them and that they place in their mouth. It also happens due to food blocking their airways and this is the most common form of suffocation death for all age groups around Australia. Particular food that causes problems for under 5 year olds are:

  • Raw carrot
  • Raw apple in pieces
  • Other raw vegetables cut in pieces
  • Small bones found in chicken and fish
  • Nuts, from peanuts to almonds
  • Corn chips and other chips
  • Popcorn
  • Sausages

It has been discovered that children under the age of four have particular trouble chewing their food due to their back teeth not having been fully developed yet so therefore they can't chew their food as much as an average adult can. You will also find a large amount of choking's occur due to children walking and moving whilst eating so a good idea is to firstly make your children always remain still when they are eating their food. Some other preventative measures include:

  • Grating up the food before serving it
  • Mashing the food up before serving it
  • Removing the skin of the food before serving it
  • Chopping the food into very very fine pieces, so small that the child would have no trouble swallowing it and there is no risk of choking
  • Never give them food that can break into small pieces easily
  • Don't give your child raw foods like carrot and celery unless they are extremely finely chopped and have all skins removed
  • Always watch your children when they are eating to make sure they are swallowing ok and there are no issues
  • Ensure your children sit quietly and don't move too much when eating
  • Don't let an upset child eat as they are more likely to choke when in an upset state

The majority of children who choke on items which aren't food all occur when they are under the age of 5. As you will know children have a habit of picking up an item they are unfamiliar with and put it in their mouth as a way of exploring what it is and trying to find out more about it. A good way to know if an item is a choking hazard is to see if it will fit into a small film canister as this is generally the size of an item that can cause your child to choke. Some of these items include:

  • Buttons from clothing
  • Batteries removed from items
  • Coins found on tables
  • Toys that have parts that are small and easily breakable

In regards to toys, always look at the packet to see what ages they are recommended for as you will find a lot of toys will have an age sticker on them or a warning saying if there are small parts capable of choking hazard on them. You should never give a child a toy designed for an older child as these generally aren't suitable due to the small parts they have. The best ways to prevent an incident from occurring are:

  • Supervise! Always watch your children when they are playing with their toys and stop them from putting things in their mouth
  • Always look through their toys and play area and take away items you think are a choking hazard
  • Only buy toys suitable for your child's age and always make sure their toys are in good condition

What to do if your child is choking
It's a scary experience to see your child choking but follow these steps if the worst does happen:

  • Check your child to see if they can breathe properly or even if it can cough or cry
  • If you see your child is breathing then a simple cough may help remove the item from their throat. Don't ever hit them on the back and try and remove it yourself. Sit with the child and see if it's breathing improves, if not call 000 immediately
  • If your child isn't breathing put the child over your lap face down so that it's head is lower than it's chest. Give four blows to the child's back below it's shoulder blades to help dislodge the item. Hopefully this will help remove the item, however if it doesn't you will need to ring 000 to get assistance from the operator until help arrives.

These tips are designed to help choking happen at all and then if the worst was to happen to help you cope in that situation. Always watch over your children when they are with food or small objects and hopefully you can prevent a serious incident from occurring.