Chewing and Choking

Choking is a leading cause of death among children under age 5, and food is to blame more than half the time.

Be sure to grind meat and cut all of your child’s food into small, bite-size pieces. Hot dogs, nuts, grapes and candy are a toddler’s most common choking hazard. Avoid providing candy. Cut grapes and hot dogs into quarter circles or sections and break nuts into small pieces.

If your child appears to be choking but is able to cough, breathe or even talk, do not perform the Heimlich maneuver (abdominal thrusting). Wait to see if your child can resolve the problem on his own.

In a choking emergency, your child will not be able to talk, cry or make noise, and may begin to turn blue in the face. Call 911 immediately and follow these steps.

Get Trained in the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR.

These are usually taught as part of any basic first-aid course and are life-saving techniques that everyone should know. All parents should be trained in the Heimlich maneuver and cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to help children in a choking emergency.

Find a Red Cross first-aid class near you.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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