A choking hazard that many parents will not consider is the one flagged by a paramedic mom on TikTok.
Advanced life support paramedic and CEO of Australian parent organization Tiny Hearts Education, Nikki Jurcutz, gets asked about choking by new parents more than anything else.
He explains that one dangerous hazard to be aware of is balloon rubber debris.
Nikki says: “I hosted a birthday party recently and was cleaning up and found this part of a balloon…they are massive choking hazards and you have to be very careful around balloons.
“As you can imagine, trying to backflip to get it up when it’s stuck would be next to impossible. So be very careful.
As a result, he has also shared some simple tips to overcome choking.
Other elements to consider to avoid suffocation:
In addition to balloons, other small items that children can choke on include:
- Toys with small parts and accessories for dolls
- paper clips
- Marbles and small balls
- Nuts, bolts and screws
- Broken crayons
- Small magnets
- Small bottle caps, such as chocolate syrup, pancake syrup, and soft drinks (kids may try to lick the sweet drops off the caps, which can get stuck in the airways).
The “Squirrel Test”
This helps you figure out which finger foods are safe.
Simply “pinch the food between your index fingers and thumb.”
“This mimics the pressure of a toothless little one’s gums,” says Nikki.
“If the food crushes easily, it means it’s safe and Bub will be able to chew.
“If it doesn’t crush easily, you have to cook it, grate it, or crush it, so it’s soft enough to pass the test.”
The “Choke Control Hack”
Make a hole with your index finger and thumb, then try to drop items through it.
You can try things like a cherry, popcorn, a grape, and small toys.
“This is how I check if food or small items can be a choking hazard for my bulbs,” Nikki explains.
“The circle is about the size of the airways of a 0 to 3-year-old child. If anything fits in that hole, it’s a choking hazard.
The “consistency test”
Nikki says there are three types of food to be careful with: round, slippery and firm items.
When something fits into these categories, you can grate or quarter the food.
“Think grapes, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, nuts, raw carrot, apple, popcorn, chewing gum, coins, marbles and batteries,” he says.
“The greater the roundness, firmness or slipperiness of an object, the greater the risk of suffocation.”
For example, you can quarter grapes and roll slippery foods like avocado in breadcrumbs.
Also, always make sure your child is sitting safely and securely in a high chair within arm’s reach at all times while eating.
Other tips to avoid suffocation:
Keep distractions to a minimum so they can concentrate on eating, for example, don’t watch TV.
- Always have a drink within reach.
- Encourage children to sit when eating and to chew well.
- Teach children to chew and swallow their food before talking or laughing.
- Supervise older children, who may not know that they should not give certain foods to younger children.
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