What children eat is not a joke. As a matter of fact, toddlers, even children, take a toll on eating the wrong types of food. In the United States alone, an average of fifty-seven (57) children choke to their passing each year. No, we’re not dealing with the fact that a food is healthy, at this point. It’s just a matter of toddlers and children choking on what they munch on. Furthermore, children are sent to emergency rooms on an average of thirty-four (34) on a daily basis.
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According to unitypoint.org, children who are younger than four years of age are the most prone to choking. Because of the fact that they haven’t mastered the art of chewing yet, they tend to grind food in their mouths and worry less about making it digestible first.
Catie Sandberg, a Pediatrician, says that infants might not be ready for foods that require chewing.
Typically, infants may be ready for some foods, such as purees, which require no true chewing. Once they have good head control and can sit well while assisted.”
Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and his team, said that the number of children having injury because of not chewing properly is substantially high.
This is an underestimate. This doesn’t include children who were treated in urgent care by a primary care physician or who had serious choking incident and were able to expel the food and never sought care.”
What are the foods in which children choke on the most?
Dr. Sandberg also says that toddlers around a year and a half year old to two years old don’t have their molars yet. They’ll have theirs when they reach the age of three (3) and that’s when they’ll learn how to chew their food properly.
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So, Dr. Sandberg and Dr. Gary Smith came up with a list of the top food children choke on the most.
The first on this list would be the infamous hot dogs. Other than the fact that this is a choking hazard not only for children, it doesn’t necessarily have nutrients and minerals our bodies would need. Because of its shape, texture, and its compact structure, children, even adults, could accidentally choke on it. The best approach for this is to cut or slice hot dogs into smaller pieces which would be easier to munch on.
Dr. Smith told Reuters that because of the shape and the size of hot dogs, it can interfere with a child’s airway; that makes it lethal and dangerous. Thus, topping the list of the foods that children choke on the most.
It’s common knowledge that hard candy is a nuisance, especially for children. Although professionals are not generalizing it, there are hard candies which are the size of children’s airways. Not being able to consume it properly could lead to choking.
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Hard candies are not a natural type of food which can deliver enough nutrients to our bodies. So, to avoid them choking on hard candies, might as well avoid it. If you can limit them or distract them with a different and a healthier treat, things could go a lot better.
I know, you might be wondering and quite shocked. Why is peanut butter part of the list of the top foods that toddlers and children choke on the most. There are different types of peanut butter which can form globs and can be dangerous. Because of its composition and size, it could possibly block a child’s airway.
Fruits, don’t get me wrong, they’re fine for babies especially with what nutrients it can offer. It’s just that, it should be properly prepared. Whole grapes are healthy, but they can be lethal if they’re incorrectly served. For the best way to feed your children grapes, cut them length-wise.
Furthermore, grape skin can choke children especially when they come off. So, it’s best to remove the skin when you’re serving your kids.
Just like grapes, I know that you’re kind of shocked that vegetables can actually choke children. In fact, vegetables are one of the most common types of food wherein children choke on the most. Make sure to slice and cut vegetables into smaller pieces to avoid choking; make sure to clean them and to remove seeds and skin if unnecessary.
Since a child is still unable to properly chew, popcorn could be a dangerous treat. Because of its texture and it’s powdery substance, children are at the risk of choking by chewing on popcorn. Even adults get the occasional, accidental choking, what makes you think children are safe?
Large cuts and chunks of cheese and meat
For starters, parents might be eager to feed their children with meat and cheese which is good. However, some parents fail to think about how their children would be able to chew big chunks of meat and cheese.
Cut more, smaller, and manageable bites for babies and for children. One recommendation Dr. Sandberg gave is to cut these into small and thin strips. This way, it won’t be a hassle for them to chew and swallow it since it’s already small.
Another thing Dr. Sandberg said is that while babies are locomotive while eating, it hikes up the risk of them choking on what they’re chewing on. If the babies can’t sit still while eating, it might impose a higher risk of choking.
Be sure that the children are not active while eating. Risk increases significantly in children who aren’t focused fully on their food. High activity levels while eating, such as walking, running, or talking quickly increases the risk.
What are the things we can do to minimize children choking on food?
Now that we know the foods children choke on the most, we must do our best to either avoid them or making them possible for our children to eat. We don’t want to deprive them if that’s what they want, right?
So, the New York Department of Health shared a couple of tips to prevent children choking on food:
- Do not EVER leave a child or a toddler unattended while he/she is eating. As much as possible, be with them when they do.Make your children feel like they don’t need to rush what they’re eating. Avoid always putting them in a situation where they’ll hurry to finish their meals.
- Cut the food into smaller pieces.
- Remove seeds from foods that have seeds and make sure to properly clean them.
- If your child wants peanut butter, make sure that it’s in its most liquid form. Give them small amounts of peanut butter and jelly to avoid clogging which can lead them to choking. Remember, peanut butter is one of the foods that children choke on the most; it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- When choosing what to feed your toddler or child, consider the following:
- When an accident happens, know what to do. Learn the proper first aid techniques like abdominal thrusts (Heimlich Maneuver), Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Automated External Defibrillators, etc. Do not panic, call help immediately and do know a thing or two about these.
- Train your children to drink plenty of water because it can easily help with digestion and in grinding the food before it goes down.
Every day, there are children who choke on food and it can happen on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, the figures above is too many and it is alarming to think that people leave children eating by themselves. Now, you’re aware on what food children choke on the most, do your best to keep your children, and even yourself safe from choking on food.