Choking Hazards

Choking is the 4th leading cause of death among kids under age 5. Take these precautions to protect your toddler:

  • Check that larger objects don’t have smaller pieces that can detach and cause choking. Look at toys and any household items within your child's reach.
  • Keep latex balloons away from babies and toddlers. They pose a serious choking danger if the child bites them and inhales a piece that then blocks the airway. Babies may also pick up small pieces of popped balloons and put them in their mouths. A Mylar balloon is a safer choice.
  • Cut foods that conform to the shape of your baby’s or toddler’s throat into smaller pieces before serving. Hot dogs and grapes are a good example.
  • Consider keeping a “choke tube” on hand. Use an empty paper towel tube to help you determine if an object is a choking danger. If you can place the object into the tube, it is small enough for a baby or toddler to choke on.
If Your Child Is Choking

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 in 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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